The Dinner by Herman Koch: A Book Review

9780385346856An internationally bestselling phenomenon: the darkly suspenseful, highly controversial tale of two families struggling to make the hardest decision of their lives—all over the course of one meal.

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 scrapings of cutlery, the conversation remains a gentle hum of polite discourse. 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 fifteen-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 show just how far they are prepared to go to protect those they love.
     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.

My Review: I wanted to read this book because the premise sounded very intriguing. I always enjoy a story that can be told over the course of one event, or take place in one room. I think it’s incredibly fascinating when an author can captivate an audience with a dialog-driven plot. However, this story left me feeling very disappointed and a little depressed.

The book is about two brothers and their wives who meet to have dinner and discuss some serious issues involving their children. The story is told from the perspective of one of the brothers. I really wish I could have liked this book, because it had a great premise. From the beginning, the story is slow and mundane, and I found none of the characters likable. As the story progresses, we discover that Paul (The brother sharing the story with us) is a deeply troubled individual with some sort of mental condition. As the story continues to unfold, I am convinced that he is nothing more than a complete psychopath. For that matter, all of the characters lack any sort of moral compass and the ideas weaved throughout this book are rather frightening and depressing. After reading this book, one is left with the feeling that humankind is hopeless, heartless and horrible. Although I know there are some genuinely horrible people in the world, I am comforted to know that the majority of the world does not think and act like these characters. I am all for a dark, suspenseful and intriguing novel, but this was just depressing, boring and disturbing.  Skip it.


*I received a copy of this book free of charge from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.


HERMAN KOCH is the author of eight novels and three collections of short stories. The Dinner, his sixth novel, has been published in forty countries and was an international bestseller. He currently lives in Amsterdam.

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The Girls of August: A Book Review

16131115Every August, four women would gather together to spend a week at the beach, renting a new house each year. The ritual began when they were in their twenties and their husbands were in medical school, and became a mainstay of every summer thereafter. Their only criteria was oceanfront and isolation, their only desire to strengthen their far-flung friendships. They called themselves the Girls of August. But when one of the Girls dies tragically, the group slowly drifts apart and their vacations together are brought to a halt. Years later, a new marriage reunites them and they decide to come together once again on a remote barrier island off the South Carolina coast. There, far from civilization, the women make startling discoveries that will change them in ways they never expected.

My Review: I love the premise of this book. A group of women who even though life has taken them different directions, they continue to make their friendships a priority and gather together every summer to spend quality time together and strengthen their bond. Sadly, after the tragic loss of one of their own, they drift apart for a few years, only to be reunited again with an new addition to the group.

I really loved the idea of this book, but I had a hard time loving any of the characters. I tried really hard to get to know them and to care about them, but they weren’t nearly as developed as I would have liked. Even though there were only four girls in the group, I kept getting two of them mixed up for the first half of the book because none of them really stood out.

What I enjoyed about this book is that it was a light, summery read and it didn’t take long to finish. I enjoyed reading descriptions of their daily meals and activities, but I really would have liked to have seen more character depth. Two of the ladies were very catty and mean toward the newcomer to the group and it felt overly dramatic. The newcomer, whose nickname annoyingly was “Baby” was a very strange character. She did and said some rather odd things throughout the book, and yet she was more likable than most of the others.

About halfway through the book, the author attempts to add character depth by giving each of the girls some “situation” she is dealing with. Instead of adding depth, it made the story more predictable and rather depressing. If the characters were going to be so one-dimensional, I would have preferred the story-line remain light as well.

There were some odd moments in this book and the ending was rather strange as well. This is one of those reads that is good if you want something light and predictable and quick to get through, but don’t expect it to leave any lasting impressions.

  • I received this book from Goodreads Firstreads program. My review was optional and all opinions are my own.
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The Curse of Crow Hollow: A Book Review

_140_245_Book.1654.coverStories are told of a witch who lives in the woods outside of town. But where does truth end and legend begin?

A group of teenagers find strange prints seared into the ground around their campsite. They follow the tracks, thinking it will lead to fun.

But it doesn’t. They eventually arrive at the edge of Alvaretta Graves’s property-house of the legendary Riverwood Witch. When an agrument that arises turns violent, Alvaretta places a curse on them. The sickness comes the next day, gripping residents one by one. Fear overtakes the town, and panic soon follows. 

The posse that makes its way back to the witch’s home is armed with guns and Bibles and is searching for an end to the sickness and violence. But they are in no way prepared for what they discover there.


My review: This book has so many thoughts rolling around in my head, I’m not sure where to start. I think it is one of those books that could spark many an interesting conversation. It is a very well written story, but there is a lot to digest in it. The biggest problem I had with this book is that it introduced so many characters, that I felt bombarded and distracted trying to keep them all straight. By the time I really got a good grip on who everyone was, I was halfway through the book and felt like I missed out on a lot because of that. Now that I’ve finished the book, I almost feel like re-reading it so that I can better comprehend the story.

And, what a story it is! The story is told by an unnamed narrator, who is revealed at the very end. On the surface, it’s a story about a town full of people, a history full of secrets and a curse that affects them all. At it’s very core, it’s a story about human nature, sin, good vs. evil, God vs. the devil, lies, deceit and betrayal.

This book and it’s author do an excellent job at depicting how things can spiral out of control when people let sin, guilt, shame, fear, paranoia and judgement take over and don’t look to God for guidance. People have a tendency to blame God and each other for things they can’t control or understand. The author has created a town full of multi-dimensional characters, and it was really interesting seeing the layers of each character unfold. This book showed how our own sinful nature works against us and how easily we can be led astray if we aren’t careful to be aware of it, and to remain close to God when life starts to unravel.

Once I got to know the characters, I really started to understand and relate to certain ones. My favorite characters were Bucky, Scarlett and John David. I also thought Chessie was an interesting and strong character. I don’t know if the author will revisit these characters in future novels, but I would love the opportunity to get to know them better.

This book is dark, complicated and chilling. It serves the reader to make them more aware of their humanity, natural inclination toward sin and ultimately their desperate need for God. It’s a sad tale, but a satisfying one, and one that thankfully, does not leave the reader without hope. I am definitely curious to read more by this author in the future.

* I received a copy of this book free of charge from Thomas Nelson and BookLook Bloggers, in exchange for my honest review.


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