It's a summer's evening in Amsterdam, and two couples meet at a fashionable restaurant for dinner. Between mouthfuls of food and over the polite scrapings of cutlery, the conversation remains a gentle hum of polite discourse - the banality of work, the triviality of the holidays. But behind the empty words, terrible things need to be said, and with every forced smile and every new course, the knives are being sharpened. Each couple has a 15-year-old son. The two boys are united by their accountability for a single horrific act; an act that has triggered a police investigation and shattered the comfortable, insulated worlds of their families.
As the dinner reaches its culinary climax, the conversation finally touches on their children. As civility and friendship disintegrate, each couple shows just how far they are prepared to go to protect those they love.
Tautly written, incredibly gripping, and told by an unforgettable narrator, The Dinner promises to be the topic of countless dinner party debates. Skewering everything from parenting values to pretentious menus to political convictions, this novel reveals the dark side of genteel society and asks what each of us would do in the face of unimaginable tragedy.
©2009 Herman Koch; Translation © 2012 by Sam Garrett (P)2013 AudioGO
I would say in the top 1/2.
My favorite character is Paul, who is the Narrator. He believes is is living an amazing happy life. However, in an instant, everything changes. He is caught between doing what he knows is right, and what is right for the family he loves.
No, it was good! A bit different, but I liked it!
"Good Brother, Bad Brother?"
This shows that there are two sides to everyone.
Riveting story about human choices, biases and how far people will go for their children.
Serge and Babette Loehman
People will really do unimaginable things for their loved ones. This book presents an easy slippery slope of rationalizations othewrsie normal peple would make when pushed to the wall.
Yes, but only because it made me think and it got my moral fortitude bubbling. This would be a great storyline for the TV show "What Would You Do", and I truly hope I would not handle the situation the way these characters did.
Yes, even though the book left me frustrated, I was entertained.
If I were reading the book, I would not have finished, just because I got aggravated with the characters. Clive's narration was easy to listen to and kept me listening.
Yes and no.
Possibly but doubtful. And definitely not with the same narrator.
Most likely not. I don't think I'm a fan of this writer's style. The book had great reviews, which I generally relate to so I gave it a try. If anything, I'll go with a paperback version next time.
Not all books are made for Audio, and this is one of them. The narrators voice made the main character sound so whiny and over-analytical that it honestly just got on my nerves. (Not to mention I couldn't stand the way he drew out the name "Serge" like "Searrrrrrge.")
In my opinion, no. Each "course" just seemed to drag on and on.
I really wanted to like it but honestly it just felt like the longest dinner of my life.
There is no Frigate like a Book To take us Lands away Nor any Coursers like a Page Of prancing Poetry – Emily Dickinson
This book was billed as a “European Gone Girl, “ and at first I could not see why. However, as the plot evolved and the dinner went on, the comparison became clear.
(Spoiler alert - this paragraph :)
As in Gone Girl, the narrator starts out innocently enough. It seems he doesn’t care much for his famous brother and he has lots of musings and philosophies that seem interesting and make it seem like his goal of being a happy family is an innocent one. However, again like Gone Girl, the plot seems to take a turn after one particular incident in the book, and then the narrator becomes more and more “unreliable.” Whatever disease or condition he has makes him crazy, basically. It was annoying to not ever know what the name of the condition was supposed to be. Also, the way that the narrator won’t reveal what was wrong with his wife when she was in the hospital is annoying, as well. I wanted to know more about his wife. By the end, she seems as crazy as he is, but it is not clear why. She seems the more logical of the two, but in the end, she is not. Her evolution to this state is too unclear, in my opinion.
The book was like a manual in how NOT to be a good parent that is for sure. This father did everything possible to screw up his son, and it worked!
I really liked the structure of the book. It was built around one particular dinner, but in fact the plot ranges far back before this dinner. With each course, more is revealed. It is tantalizing in that way, and interesting to see what will come next.
In both books, though, the extreme actions of the characters seemed unbelievable, as did the endings. Overall, though, The Dinner wasn’t quite as exciting, or edgy, as Gone Girl.
The story starts out well. You are inside the head of the narrator but still getting an interesting view of the rest of his family. But as the narrator's character is developed, I began wanting to be anywhere except inside his head. There was "Too Much Information" as far as I'm concerned. His thoughts were disgusting. I didn't want to know any of them. I had to quit about an hour into the book because it just got gross. Bad language, vile thoughts. I didn't care enough about the story to keep going.
Frist off my name is Cynthia. My husband is Mike, but he has never been a member.
Yes. very intersting story told in a creative way.
The story of what happened with the sons.
The way he was reading about his brother it seemed that he was really talking about his brother.
when I had finished the story I kept thinking about the way each person in the family handled
what had happened. I think the two women were very much in tune with one and other.
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I think a large part of what made this book such a hit for me it was the narration. It was terrific, he was excellent! Pitch perfect! he perfectly conveyed the mood of the main character: annoyed, moody, irritated, sarcastic… His female characters were not as wonderful, but so what – they were just secondary.
I loved the restaurant setting in general, restaurants are probably my favourite place to be and the descriptions of the atmosphere and the food just put in me in the mood go out. The exchanges with the hoity toity waiter (and his pinky) were very funny… I wish I had been there too!
The story unfolds veeeeeeerrryyyy slowly, but because the people were so interesting to me I didn’t mind – I was happily wrapped up in the minutia of their evening.
I don’t like comparing books to each other (I get on a rant when people start comparing every sick drama ever published to Gone Girl) but I would be lying to say that this book did not remind me of Defending Jacob by William Landay. I think if you liked that one, you’ll love this one.
If the restaurant dinner scene appeals to you like it does to me, then I also recommend: Last Night at the Ritz by Elizabeth Savage.
I have to confess that for me, the ending was lukewarm… in fact I forgot what it was the next morning and had to go back and listen to the last 45 minutes to remind me of what just happened. Still, it did not ruin the fun journey I had while enjoying the story.
I would listen to the first couple chapters again. The book started off funny, clever, and amusing. I really enjoyed listening to the main character's slightly perturbed dialogue about all the little things that peeve him. His complaints and grumblings were not annoying but rather amusing. I found myself laughing out loud often. As the story developed however, the book took a bit of a turn to the darker side. Don't get me wrong it was still an entertaining story but I just found myself wanting some more of the witty humor that was present at the beginning of the story.
I would likely try another book from this author.
Clive Mantle's performance was very good. His accent (English?) seemed very fitting for many of the characters portrayed.
I laughed out loud several times throughout the beginning of the story.
The story was well done. I had a little trouble at times figuring out the chronological order of some of the story but otherwise it mostly made sense. Although I did find myself wishing that the story could maintain the humorous tone that it had in the beginning, it probably would've seemed out of place with the events that unfold later in the story. Although the reactions of the characters seemed a little unbelievable at times, it wasn't so far fetched as to detract from the story. Overall, it was a pretty good story with good narration.
I listened to it twice in a row. Such a fascinating, perverted, upside down story. And Mr. Mantle was perfection itself in characterizing the narrator of the story - breezy, disconnected, sure, and clueless all at the same time.
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