Book Review: The Dinner

Why I picked it:  I spotted this on Bibliophile by the Sea and then several commented they loved it, so I pushed it to the top of my list.

Synopsis: Over one meal, two families struggle with the hardest decision of their lives. On an Amsterdam summer evening, two couples are united by their sons, aged 15, their horrific joint deed. Behind banal polite discourse in a restaurant, knives are sharpened, friendship disintegrates. How far will adults go to protect those they love?

Quick Take: Strange. I'm not sure what to say about this book. As I read it I wondered if I was reading something similar to 'We need to talk about Kevin' but this book didn't scare me like Kevin did (thank goodness, I never need to read anything like that again).

I knew the characters were going to be unlikable; sadly I wasn't invested in the outcome and kept waiting for something big to happen.  When the cliff hanger is revealed, it's shared slowly.  It is disturbing but could have been explored more.  I'm not sure I want to know why the boys did what they did, but hearing from the children or having a mother's perspective may have enhanced the story.

Would I recommend this to book club?  I can't see myself recommending this book to anyone but there is a LOT to discuss. The writing is good, I listened and didn't feel compelled to stop listening.

Have you read it?  If I took the time to read a few reviews before buying this book, I might not have read it.  A lot of people gave the book just one star; people either love it or hate it, so it's odd to fall in the middle.

Rating: 3 stars
Source: personal copy (audio)


  1. If this is a love or hate book, I fell on the love side. I could not put it down and I wanted to talk about it with everyone i met. But, not all books are for all people. You win some, you lose some.

  2. Too bad -- I liked it, and yes no quite as horrffic as We Need to Talk About Heaven.

  3. It definitely sounds different. I may check it out because it sounds so odd. Ha ha. Of course, I am in love with Tom Robbins and his off the way weirdness so this might be up my alley but I may be like you and absolutely hate it.

  4. I loved this book! I read it twice (with some years in between) and loved it twice. Maybe it's because I'm Dutch, like the writer? What I liked especially was the way the narrator commented on events. I loved his observations. The story itself is a bit less strong maybe, but still a very good read for me.

    1. awe, sorry I didn't like this as much as you did. Always tough to love a book and someone else doesn't enjoy it much, I'm all to familiar with this since I tend to read books not everyone reads. For me the details became a distraction as I kept waiting to hear the boy's story.

      This is the best part of blogging though, right? Discussing books, likes, dislikes, etc...

  5. I was surprised to see this one pop up on my reader for you - it's definitely not one I would have imagined you liking. I'm not sure I would, either.


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