The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle was my Book of the Month pick for August. Moment of truth: I only ordered The Dinner List because it had a yellow book jacket. I didn't care about the genre or what the judges said. And to be honest, I barely even glanced at what it was about. Now that may sound ridiculous to you, but I have aspirations of taking an amazing book rainbow photograph (as well as a few color themed ones) and so yellow was high on my must-have list.
For a book judged solely on its color, The Dinner List did not disappoint.
If you could have dinner with any five people, dead or alive, who would it be? We've all asked, answered, or heard this question in some form a thousand times before. It's all in good fun because we know it won’t ever happen. We can sound as philosophical as we want filling hypothetical seats with Gandhi or Plato. I probably couldn't pick just five but I know for sure Zora Neale Hurston is invited. George R.R. Martin can come and explain where is book six in the ASOIAF series (aka Game of Thrones). And I have several questions for Eve!
In The Dinner List, Rebecca Serle brings this cliche to life in a 4 and a 1/2 hour birthday dinner. Sabrina Nielsen"s 30th birthday is one she won't forget. Sabrina goes to dinner to meet Jessica, her best friend, and gets the surprise of her life. Audrey Hepburn is there. In the flesh. At the table. Waiting for her.
This dinner is presumably taking place in 2018 which means Audrey is very, very dead.
Sabrina's other surprise guest:
Robert- her absentee father
Mr. Conrad- her former philosophy professor
Tobias- her ex-boyfriend.
Dead people party too
Sabrina is taken aback by Audrey's presence (obviously) but she also isn't expecting the others as well. But they were all on her 'list' so she just goes with the flow. No one knows how it works. No one can understand how Audrey Hepburn is young again and drinking wine across the table but everyone just goes along with it.
Now I will admit that, usually, I'm a stickler for things like this. I need all the details. Tell me how it works. Why it works. I mean really make me believe I can invite a dead person to dinner. But The Dinner List gets a pass because at some point I started caring about what was happening more than why it was happening.
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OK, maybe intervention is a strong word but you start to feel like maybe Sabrina needs one. First, She has obvious daddy issues. Understandably so, but issues none the less. Secondly, Her and Tobias are on the downside of a ten year romantic epic for the ages. Throw in something kind of strange happening between her and her best friend and Sabrina is a full out mess. In the middle of her own quarter-life crisis, the only two people at the table who can help are the philosopher and the dead woman.
Let me tell you that Sabrina and Tobias have the kind of love story you either want to wrap yourself up in or run away screaming from. When its good its so good. But when it's bad....well you know how that goes. Those two love each other with a kind of aching that will rip your heart out. I couldn't tell you whether I was more hurt when they were together or apart. Sabrina's relationships aside from Tobias pale in comparison to her yearning for Tobias. It's almost sickening. Their roller coaster ride of a relationship makes you forget that they are having dinner with their favorite dead actress.
The Dinner List is fairly short and a pretty quick read. That may or may not have to do with the fact that I thought something dark and gruesome was going on and I really wanted to get to the end to find out. PLOT TWIST. There's not too many of them. Trust me, this is not another plot twist horror story like Ghosted (my review here). There are just enough to twists and turns to break your heart repeatedly. Rebecca Serle makes Sabrina's dinner a group therapy session and each short chapter moves between dinner/therapy and the past.
This is a judgment-free zone (for me, not the books) so I have no trouble divulging that I cried REAL rolling down the face tears for at least (AT LEAST) the last 20 pages. It was probably more, all those tears made the page numbers blurry.
It wasn't a Me Before You level ugly cry but it was close. If you are into love stories, tragedies, or you just need a good cry The Dinner List is a good pick for you. If you are a hopeless romantic or a cynic The Dinner List is for you.