Top positive review
34 people found this helpful
Dark, compelling and full of surprises
on 2 May 2013
On an evening in Amsterdam a couple approaches a restaurant, intending to meet another couple for dinner. The couple, our narrator Paul, and his wife Claire, seem a bit distracted and apprehensive about the evening. We soon learn that they are meeting for dinner with the Lohmans - who turn out to be Paul's brother Serge, and his wife Babette. Serge is a very successful politician, who inevitably draws many stares and whispers from the other diners in the restaurant. Paul doesn't seem to like his brother Serge, so why are they meeting for dinner? It soon emerges that they are there to discuss their teenage sons, who have committed a terrible crime...
The Dinner is truly unlike anything I have ever read before, but in a good way. I was intrigued by the description but as soon as I started reading I immediately got the impression that all was not as it seemed, and so I was drawn into the story, keen to know more.
The book takes place over the span of one evening, more specifically, the dinner that the two couples are attending. The novel is split into `courses', with each section of the book relating to a certain course in the meal. I really loved this idea, because as the courses progressed, a little more of the story was unravelled and the reader could digest this the way they would a meal. I was very curious to see how Herman could keep up an entire book over the course of one dinner, but he did it and it worked! Our narrator Paul takes us through his thought processes, from what he thinks of his brother, to the actual dinner and how it seems to be more of a performance with the waiter pointing out the finer details of the food, to the revelation of what their sons have done. There is a lot of detail in the book, which could put some readers off, but I actually found it added to the story, it made the narration seem more realistic as our thought processes can be quite detailed. As well as the narration during the dinner, there are also flashback scenes which I found particularly interesting, though I won't give away too much about them so as not to spoil it for anyone.
The tension in The Dinner was brilliant. I had no idea where the book was going to go next, every page surprised me and I was constantly unsure of who to trust. As the courses in the meal progressed I could feel the atmosphere changing and the tension constantly building, and this compelled me to read on further.
The Dinner would be perfect for a book club read because there are so many elements to explore and discussions to be had. It certainly had me thinking throughout and even after I turned the last page, I still keep going over the events in my mind.
The Dinner is a dark, compelling read full of secrets and surprises that unravel over the course of a dinner. It is gripping, with lots of suspense, and will have you turning the pages wanting to know what will happen next. I would definitely recommend this.