Strangers at the Feast
By Jennifer Vanderbes
Simon & Schuster
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.