Two couples meet for dinner in a fancy restaurant in Amsterdam under superficial pretenses. The real topic at hand are the respective couples’ 15 year old boys who are caught up in horrible incident that has brought on police & media presence. The story and their lives unfold as each dinner course is brought out to the table culminating to a test of each individual’s resolve in protecting their family.
This book has been touted as a great read for fans of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, so perhaps I had certain expectations about the book going into it. Based on other people’s reactions to the book, I was expecting a mind-blowingly shocking read. It had some of that, but personally, not to the scope and scale that Gone Girl was. Where it could be looked upon as comparable might be that The Dinner also deals with a seemingly normal group of people on the surface but yet have a much darker, twisted side to them.
It’s a bit slow moving at times, but I really enjoyed how the narrative was laid out, with each segment being marked by each of the dinner courses – from Aperitif right through to the Dessert. The awkward & mundane small talk is so well done that it makes the reader feel just as uncomfortable, as if you’re sitting there at the table with these four people who are on the verge of coming apart at the seams. At its core, the unfolding tale told a story about the resilience and breakdown of individual character as well as the relationships among each other.
A lot of the time I felt like this could have been a play. A small set, possibly even just the one location at the restaurant but there were certainly many aspects of it that felt dramatic and theatrical. I definitely wouldn’t be surprised if this gets adapted for theatre eventually. It’s hard to review this without giving away too much about the plot. The Dinner is an intense and dramatic novel about family tension that comes out over a seemingly innocuous dinner.