Reviewed by Kat Harrison
If you’re looking for a book to read this summer, perhaps a companion for pool or beach, then I’d highly recommend Helen Aitchison’s ‘The Dinner Club’, from Cahill Davis Publishing.
From the very first chapter, you’re drawn into the character’s lives, with the writing placing you right alongside them in their living rooms. For me, a good book is one that encourages a smile and evokes laughter, a fictional friendship formed. Yet, at just the turn of a page, you’ll have tears in your eyes and an ache in your heart, as you empathise with more difficult situations. And this story does just that and more.
Steadily introduced to five main characters, the pace is perfect, with you gradually getting to know each one of them. First up is Derek. Derek is key to the whole story as it’s his recent separation from his wife that alongside a TV show spurs him on to start a dinner club, to not only make new friends but to come to terms with a secret that he now realises he’s kept for far too long.
Florence, Violet, Eddie and Cara make up a wonderful supporting cast and with the backdrop of The Dinner Club, we learn that each of them is facing their own personal battle. It’s an easy, light hearted read yet at the same time deals with difficult topics such as death, domestic abuse and loneliness in old age. The book is jam-packed with humour but it doesn’t once devalue or distract from these important issues. ‘The Dinner Club’ takes you on a rollercoaster ride through the ups and downs of life; there’s happiness, there’s grief, there’s tough times and trauma, there’s love, there’s laughter and you’ll be at the very heart of it all. As the characters bond, you too will get that warm and fuzzy feeling that stems from the forming of new friendships.
As chapters unfold, the story continues and develops from the viewpoints of each of the characters. It’s easy to follow yet this technique succeeds in adding depth and a richness to the tale, where you get to know each individual not only through their descriptions but through the insights of others.
The story is about forming friendships through a shared love of food, as well as the need to belong and to feel comfortable in themselves. The characters are varied; there’s the widowed, single Dad, the 80-year old on the look out for one last adventure and the young girl lost in the care system and trying to find her way.
As a Foodie and given the title of this book, I thought the story may have been more focused on dinner party recipes but it’s the ingredients that make up friendships that are truly significant and create a real, heartwarming tale. The snippets that do focus on the character’s favourite meals do however certainly help build-up the picture.
If you enjoy a book where you like the characters, this one is definitely for you. It drips with positivity and even when it makes you sad, it’ll still summon up a smile. ‘The Dinner Club’ is a wonderful debut novel and I’ll certainly be reading any future works of Helen Aitchison
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Kindle edition £4.99
This product can be purchased from Amazon, Waterstones and WHSmith.