Tuesday, September 11, 2018

The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle

The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle
Release Date - September 11, 2018
Publisher Website - Raincoast Books
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages -  288 pages
My Rating - 5/5
**received from the publisher for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
For fans of Me Before You and ONE DAY comes a wondrous novel of first love, loss, and the dinner of a lifetime.

When Sabrina Nielsen arrives at her thirtieth birthday dinner she finds at the table not just her best friend, but also her favorite professor from college, her father, her ex-fiance, Tobias, and Audrey Hepburn.

At one point or another, we’ve all been asked to name five people, living or dead, with whom we’d like to have dinner. Why do we choose the people we do? And what if that dinner was to actually happen? These are the questions Sabrina contends with in Rebecca Serle’s utterly captivating novel, The Dinner List, a story imbued with the same delightful magical realism as Sliding Doors, and The Rosie Project.

As the appetizers are served, wine poured, and dinner table conversation begins, it becomes clear that there’s a reason these six people have been gathered together, and as Rebecca Serle masterfully traces Sabrina’s love affair with Tobias and her coming of age in New York City, The Dinner List grapples with the definition of romance, the expectations of love, and how we navigate our way through it to happiness. Oh, and of course, wisdom from Audrey Hepburn. 

Delicious but never indulgent, sweet with just the right amount of bitter, The Dinner List is a modern romance for our times. Bon appetit.
Plenty of us have often wondered who we would invite to our dream dinner. You know the question, the one that ask what five people living or dead that you would want to have at a dinner party. The Dinner List takes this premise and adds a extra dash of something special to create a whimsical feeling read that packs a lot of emotional heft.

Rebecca Serle is known for her young adult novels. The Dinner List presents her first foray into the world of adult fiction. I believe that adult novels may end up being an even better fit for her as The Dinner List completely captivated me. You get a sense of ease and comfort within the genre that worked its way into all of the other elements of the story. I am hopeful we'll get more adult reads from her as I truly think she shines in this one.

There is an ethereal, magical quality to not just the writing but the book itself. Part of this is the inclusion of Audrey Hepburn at this birthday dinner that is being thrown. A certain amount of disbelief has to be suspended to fall into this story. Give yourself over to the story being told and you'll be richly rewarded. This inclusion of Audrey doesn't feel jarring in the slightest, but rather adds to the atmosphere and tone. All of the characters included in the dinner are there for a reason and so much of that ties into the feeling that is captured within the pages. There is an effervescence that is only matched by the sorrow that is also found  here. It ends up capturing the feeling of something real that also feels magical.

Sabrina is imperfect and I adore that about her character. She's messy and flawed in a way that feels realistic. This bleeds into the relationships she has with the other characters. They are messy in the way that real relationships are. They are not always easy and people hurt one another. The real beauty of both Sabrina as a character and this book is that it reminds you to bask in all of the moments. Those that are good and bad along with everything in between.

The remainder of the guests are not something I will spoil. Part of the charm of this book is discovering things along the way and that means allowing them to happen at the exact time they are meant to. Every single character is there for a reason and many of the characters are not just there to flesh out Sabrina's story arc. There are those that require their own closure, or have their own journeys to take during the course of this dinner and that made them feel more developed. Having characters that are not just there for the benefit of the main character is key and Rebecca Serle captures that here.

There is a major plot point that makes up what is the heart of this novel that is impossible to discuss without getting into spoiler territory. It also feels incomplete to discuss this novel without mentioning it. I've decided to include some spoilery thoughts under a tag so that those who have not read this wonderful novel yet won't be spoiled. This reveal is perfectly timed and stole my breath for a moment so please do not ruin it for yourself.

Those who love beautifully written, engrossing reads that leave you emotionally exhausted but full at the same time will want to pick this one up immediately. It's a perfect blend of whimsy, heart, and that undefinable thing that makes something unforgettable.

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