Have you ever been asked “If you could have dinner with any five people, dead or alive, who would you choose?” The Dinner List is a novel about Sabrina, who sits down to dinner for her 30th birthday with five people, one of whom is Audrey Hepburn. An interesting premise, but as the novel moves forward, we are given hints that there’s a reason these five people have been chosen, and in a few hours Sabrina is able to work out her feelings of regret, sadness, love, and friendship so that by dinner’s end she, and everyone else at the table can move in the direction their lives have taken them.
Even though I didn’t have a clue where this novel was going to take me I quickly found myself wrapped up in the dinner conversation and in Sabrina’s life as told through flashbacks. This dinner list was started when she was in college with her roommate and best friend Jessica. On this list was her father who had left she and her mother when she was a toddler, her college Philosophy professor, her best friend Jessica, Audrey Hepburn, and the boy she had a blind crush on in college. As the novel progresses we see the reasons why each of these people were at the table. As each course is eaten, something new is revealed about Sabrina’s life and the people at the table help her deal with her emotions about that time in her life. These scenes were sometimes sweet, funny, fascinating and sad. However they made me feel, I eagerly ate them up digesting the words as if they were a calorie free all you can eat dessert buffet.
I think the reason why this novel worked so well was because Sabrina was not a perfect woman. She was completely flawed. At times, I didn’t understand her reactions yet I wanted to know so much more about her. In one scene we find out Sabrina is named for Audrey Hepburn’s character in the movie Sabrina because her mom and dad thought that that character was a young woman that knew what she wanted and was determined to get it. A great person to emulate, however this Sabrina was more like Audrey Hepburn’s character in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Holly Golightly. Sabrina was afraid to be alone, wanting to always be connected to others and she let that fear rule her.
This book made me reflect upon my own list of five people I’d like to sit down to dinner, dead or alive. Should I sit Jon BonJovi next to Abraham Lincoln or Margaret Thatcher? Or maybe I should ask Candice Bergen if she’s available? Regardless, I don’t think it would be as interesting as Sabrina’s journey was in this book.
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