Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Dinner Party (Brenda Janowitz)

Don’t let the title confuse you -- Brenda Janowitz’s The Dinner Party only features an actual “dinner party” for half of the novel.  The other half is all about the repercussions of the drama-filled evening, where the amount of secret-keeping borders on the ridiculous.

Sylvia Gold is having the Passover Seder at her house, which she knows will be attended by two of her three children and their significant others -- Sarah and Joe and Becca and Henry.  Sylvia doesn’t think that Joe is good enough for Sarah. He has just taken over his father’s mechanic shop, and Sylvia wants more for her daughter.  To make matters worse, Joe’s overbearing mother, Valentina, will also be at the meal.  Henry is Becca’s new boyfriend, and he is a member of the Rothschilds, a very important bank-controlling family.  Sylvia whips herself into a frenzy making sure that everything is perfect for the dinner since Henry’s parents will also be attending.

During the meal, there are surprise guests, and the secrets come out fast and furious.  It’s like one giant episode of Days of Our Lives.  The night ends with Sylvia being infuriated with her children, and the reader can see the ending coming from a mile away.

There are books like Cutting for Stone and Middlesex that are multi-layered and thought provoking.  The Dinner Party isn’t one of those books, but it really wasn’t meant to be.  However, the plot and writing are filled with clichés that don’t need to be in any book, even a chick lit novel.  Your time is probably better spent elsewhere.