Review: Strangers at the Feast

Strangers at the Feast Book Cover 

Strangers at the Feast
By Jennifer Vanderbes
Simon & Schuster
August 2010
352pp 

*No Spoilers* 

The Short of It: 

Just like a runaway train, Strangers at the Feast picks up speed and hurls you toward its dramatic conclusion. You won’t be able to put this one down. 

The Rest of It: 

It’s Thanksgiving day. Ginny, has invited her parents, her brother, his wife and their three kids to enjoy dinner in her new home. Ginny, single and an academic sort at that, is not well-versed in the kitchen, but is excited about hosting such an important meal. The others are excited about the prospect of seeing her new home, but they have their doubts over how successful the dinner will be. 

While waiting for dinner, each character has time to reflect on the past.  The story is told through alternating points of view, whereas each chapter is dedicated to a character in the story. As the story progresses, it’s clear that the meal is anything but traditional and that there are larger issues to consider. 

The mere mention of Thanksgiving brings many images to mind. The glistening bird, the mounds of mashed potatoes, the gravy boats and…the drama. You know what I am talking about. Where Aunt Jolene drank a little bit too much wine and ended up out by the trash cans, or how that bird may have looked perfectly roasted on the outside, but really wasn’t.  It happens. As much as I love Thanksgiving, there is also a little piece of me that dreads it as well. Vanderbes has written a novel that somehow encapsulates that exact feeling of dread. Family dynamics, intimate secrets, it’s all here. 

As the tension mounts, you know something is going to happen, but what? Well, I won’t share anything else because I want you to read it for yourself but Vanderbes does not disappoint. The writing is tight, the pace is gripping, and the characters are worth remembering. I was very excited to receive this book and once I cracked it open, I could not put it down.

What I especially admire is that this isn’t JUST a page-turner, this is a book with a message. If you’re a fan of well-constructed stories, ones that unfold like a three-act play, are page-turners and include well-developed, conflicted characters, then there is no doubt in my mind that you will enjoy Strangers at the Feast.

I’m adding this one to my list of faves for 2010.

Source: This review copy was sent to me by the publisher.

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22 thoughts on “Review: Strangers at the Feast”

    1. You’re not kidding about zipping through it. I opened it, got into a spat with The Hub (which actually allowed for more reading time because of self-imposed silence) and didn’t sleep until I was done with it.

      It’s not gripping like a thriller would be, but just really interesting to read. I definitely wanted to know more about the characters. Strangers at the Feast is available now!

      1. Well, I guess that’s one good thing that comes from a spat — reading time! Haha. Wow, no sleep until you were done? Sounds like an unputdownable to me. 🙂

  1. I know what you mean when you talk about a thriller without murders and explosions. Just knowing that something BIG or UGLY is going to happen is enough, in the hands of the write author. Oh, I so wish I could just drop everything and read this one!

  2. Just reading your review has gotten me all excited about this book. I’m so lucky that I have a copy waiting for me!!! Excellent review Ti!!!!

  3. I recently read this fine novel. The tension built up by the author makes this one unputdownable. Is going on my table of favs at work.

    1. Fave table at work? Do you work in a bookstore? I think Strangers at the Feast is the perfect book. It’s a page-turner and provides some food for thought. Can’t beat that. So glad you liked it too.

    1. I would have waited until closer to Thanksgiving as well but it was a review copy and it already came out so I pushed it up the reading chain. Now you have something to look forward to 🙂

  4. I just finished this and loved it too. Couldn’t put it down because of the suspense of knowing SOMETHING was going to happen. I wanted to know what!

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