The Dinner List

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 11 Sep 2018

Member Reviews

One of my new favorite books! This author has such a way with words the pages flew by in no time! I can’t wait to see the next work by this author! This was such a joy to read!
Was this review helpful?
What 5 people, living or dead, would you like to invite to a dinner party? How many times have I answered that question? Countless times, and my answer might be different every time, depending on age and circumstances.  Our heroine not only gets to answer the question, she also gets to have that dinner!  What a fun premise. What could happen?  Rebecca Serle takes readers on a journey that answers that question.  The Dinner List definitely kept the promise of it's premise.  I was thoroughly entertained by Ms Serle's writing style, lovely character portraits and sense of humor. I would definitely read more from Rebecca Serle.
Was this review helpful?
Since I was a very young child I have asked myself the question that is central to this novel-- If I could have a dinner party with ANY five guests, dead or alive, who would comprise my list? Because that question and topic really resonates with me, I found the subject of this book to be fascinating. Having said that, I found the actual book itself to be just okay. There wasn't exactly anything WRONG with it, but I had a hard time connecting and staying interested. I think the author could have gone much deeper, yet for whatever reason, she chose to keep things in the shallow end. There will be readers who LOVE this book, but for me, personally, it missed its mark.
Was this review helpful?
Posted on Goodreads: After hearing about this book for months... it’s okay, not great. A little too light for me, when compared to similar novels. 

Updated Mar 9, 2019: The Readerly Report is discussing this as their March Book Club selection.  I'm looking forward to this since Gayle mentioned the audiobook narration was monotone.  I listened to this book and wonder if it reads better than listening to.
Was this review helpful?
This book asks you “Which five people would you invite to dinner, living and dead”?  I thoroughly enjoyed this book and it was quite different than I thought it would be.  Complex, funny, enlightening.
Was this review helpful?
You know the game: name five people, living or dead, whose company you would most enjoy for your dream dinner party. The book opens on Sabrina's 30th birthday, with her dream come true: she's dining with her best friend, her favorite college professor, the father she never knew, the love of her life, and Audrey Hepburn. The story alternates between the often-tense dinner party and flashbacks to the past, which reveal the origin—and perhaps fate—of Sabrina's great romance. Without Audrey Hepburn, the bittersweet story would dissolve into sappy, but with her wry presence, it works. For publishing nerds: this is an Amy Einhorn book.
Was this review helpful?
Wow. Just Wow. This book was fantastic! First of all, it made me think about the famous question of who I would most want to have dinner with. Second, I rarely read books with magical realism as a main element, but this book was a fantastic entry point to this style of fiction. This book is magical and enchanting and I loved the romance!
Was this review helpful?
While I wasn’t completely enamored with this book, the concept behind it really resonated with me. If you could have dinner party with five people, living or dead, who would you choose? And why? Made me spend many days contemplating my own list, and why, and how important it is to not leave things unsaid because you might never get another opportunity.
Was this review helpful?
The Dinner List was SUCH a good book. I think everyone at one time has been asked who they would want to have dinner with, dead or alive, so reading about how Sabrina got that exact opportunity was simply superb! She gets a few hours to reconnect with the father she never knew, her best friend, Audrey Hepburn, and the lost love of her life. She must face the fact that things are not what they seem and that it is time for her grow up and move forward with her life, while offering and asking for forgiveness. The Dinner List made me teary-eyed, but ultimately it left a warm place in my heart and became one of the best books I have read in a long time!
Was this review helpful?
This book is unique, fascinating, beautiful, and emotional.  It alternates between the dinner party and Sabrina and Tobias's relationship.  I don't always reach for these types of books, but this one caught my attention and I am very grateful I read it.  It's very insightful and will have you thinking about opportunities to tell your loved ones what they mean to you before it's too late.
Was this review helpful?
had such a great time with this book. It was so easy to fall into its spell. Everyone has a list of people living or dead of who they would love to have a dinner with. My list would be my father, Jane Austen, John F. Kennedy Jr. John F. Kennedy, Henry Cavil, Jason Mamoa and Pablo Nerdua. I have a weird list and it changes from time to time. What I loved most about this book was the magic it held, the romance it delivered, and the tears I cried…it was enchanting.
Was this review helpful?
Three and a half stars: An interesting book that explores the complexity of relationships. 

When Sabrina arrives at her thirtieth birthday dinner, she is shocked to be greeted by Audrey Hepburn informing her they have been waiting for her for over an hour. Seated at the table are five important people to Sabrina: Her dead father, her boyfriend, her best friend, her college professor and Audrey Hepburn. As the dinner gets started, so does the conversation, and it soon becomes clear that each guest is there for a reason, as Sabrina begins examines the relationships in her life. Who would you like to dine with if you had the chance?
What I Liked:
*The Dinner List was a book I couldn’t resist because I was intrigued by the concept of someone having that dream dinner with their top five guests. This is a book about life, love and the complexities of relationships. I found it intriguing. 
*Sabrina is a girl who has a lot of baggage in her past, and soon she finds this dinner is an opportunity to come to terms with unreconciled issues. Seated at the table is her father, whom she barely knew. Dining and conversing with her father gives her a chance to say the things she never could say and to get to know the man who abandoned her and her mother so long ago. I found this part of the book to be the most touching. Like with any of the relationships in the book, this one is full of conflict and many unresolved issues. For me, watching Sabrina have the chance to say the things she never could while he was alive was one of the highlights of the book. 
*The main focus of the book is on the troubled romantic relationship between Tobias and Sabrina. The story moves jumps back and forth from the dinner to the past as the details of Sabrina’s and Tobias’ relationship are uncovered. Parts of the relationship were magical and wonderful as it was based on fate and destiny, while other portions were troubling. I think the main message is that love is messy and complicated, and sometimes even with fate and destiny involved things don’t always work out. There were so many ups and downs with the relationship, including a big shocking twist, and I was frustrated and charmed by the relationship. When everything was said and done at the end, I was satisfied with the way it worked out. 
*Also at the table is Jessica, Sabrina’s best friend. Just like with Sabrina’s romantic relationship, this friendship is also full of complications. The friends go through their growing pains, they grow apart and they have their differences, but once they really talked, I felt like the friendship was back on track. 
*Audrey Hepburn was one of the most interesting people at the table. At first, I wasn’t sure about this character, but as the dinner goes on, Audrey became a favorite. I liked that she wasn’t portrayed as a dazzling starlet. Instead, she is a genuine person with her own faults and troubles. I liked learning more about Audrey’s personal life, and I enjoyed her sage advice. 
*The book ends with the conclusion of the dinner. I was satisfied with the way things played out, and I liked that the whole dinner wasn’t chalked up to some elaborate dream. Instead there is the hint that it really did happen by some extraordinary means. 
And The Not So Much:
*Even though I liked that this book was all about exploring the complex romantic relationship between Sabrina and Tobias, it got so frustrating. I can’t put it all into words, but I think my main issues was that I never was a big fan of Tobias. I felt like Sabrina was the one doing all the work all the time in the relationship. I guess I wanted more......
*The one guest at the party that didn’t really serve a purpose was Sabrina’s professor. Conrad is a nice guy who offers some advice, but I expected more from him. There was nothing in Sabrina’s relationship with Conrad that was impactful or important. I didn’t feel like this guest offered much at all at the table. 
*At first, I was swept up in the book, but toward the final third, everything began to slow. I grew tired of the dramatics in Sabrina’s and Tobias’ relationship, I felt like it dragged down the book. 
*Finally, I listened to the audiobook version narrated by the author herself. I was disappointed in the audiobook because I felt like the author was just reading the book to me. There were no character voices or much emotion. It was not up to par with the audiobooks I usually listen to.

The Dinner List was a book I wanted to love. I was fascinated by the concept of the dinner and the guests, and I liked the touch of magical realism. This is a book that explores the complexities of all the different relationships in one’s life. Overall, I liked the book, but in the end, I was disappointed that so much of the story was focused on the unhealthy romantic relationship between Sabrina and Tobias. Still it was interesting enough to recommend to those of you who want a little something different. 

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own, and I was not compensated for this review.
Posted@Rainy Day Ramblings.
Was this review helpful?
The Dinner List is an imaginative story full of beautifully, descriptive writing and captivating narratives. This was my first Rebecca Serle, and I absolutely LOVED her writing style. 

This book was captivating, quickly paced and immersive. I enjoyed the descriptions of the characters’ lives and the poignant conclusions that Sabrina comes to throughout the dinner. This is a story of healing and of letting go of the past. 

My struggle with this book was the lack of explanation for how this incredible dinner came to be. I love an element of magical realism in a story, but would appreciate more complete world-building in a plot. It’s amazing that she can literally be having dinner with the five people on her list, living or dead, but how was this possible? I wish there had been more. My final complaint is that while the story ends on a hopeful, but poignant note, it really just made me sad. I was so invested in Tobias & Sabrina’s relationship, I wish that things had ended differently. 

Overall, it was a captivating read that I very much enjoyed!
Was this review helpful?
This book was just OK. I felt that the plot was a bit slow moving and I found it devastatingly sad. While I think the idea of the dinner was a fun idea, it ended up falling flat.
Was this review helpful?
I loved this book! I thought the plot was well done and very creative. There was good character development too; it left me thinking about who I would have at my own dinner.
Was this review helpful?
When Sabrina shows up for her thirtieth birthday she is unexpectedly greeted by five people.  The five living or dead people that she had on her "list."  You know, the list of five people, living or dead, with whom you would most like to have dinner.  Greeting Sabrina is her deceased father, who was out of her life long before he died.  Her best friend, who has replaced her time with Sabrina with a husband and son.  An old, professor, who made quite the impact on Sabrina. An old boyfriend, who departed in the most shocking of ways.  And Audrey Hepburn, who wouldn't want to have dinner with Audrey Hepburn?  Over the course of the evening, it is revealed why each one of them was chosen to be on Sabrina's list. And as each course of the dinner is completed, Sabrina is worried that when the dinner ends, those she misses the most will be gone forever.  Will Sabrina get the closure that she so desperately needs or will the birthday dinner only prolong the pain that she has been feeling for too long?

The premise of The Dinner List is one that is intriguing. We all have a list either in our heads or written down of people we would most like to have at a special dinner.   It has been a dinner party icebreaker for generations. The Dinner List is told in alternate timelines.  The hours and minutes the night of the dinner and her past relationship with Tobias, the ex-boyfriend who is at the dinner.  But really, Tobias is more than just a boyfriend and the author uses the alternate timeline to tell their story.  The premise of The Dinner List is genius, but neither Sabrina nor Tobias are likable characters.  They just aren't.  Tobias is selfish and Sabrina plays the martyr. It makes it tough to really like either one of them.  The end of the book was the end of the dinner and it didn't really end the way that I thought it would.  The ending kind of came out of left-field.   -- CLICK HERE FOR SPOILERS

Bottom Line - The Dinner List is one of those books with a unique premise that falls short when it comes to character development.  I  stuck with it for the unique premise and hopes that there was going to be some sort of shocking twist at the end.  There wasn't.   But it did make me revisit the five people that I would want at my dinner.  Living or dead, who would make your dinner list?
Was this review helpful?
Rebecca Serle --- the author of several young adult books, including the smash hit FAMOUS IN LOVE --- makes her adult debut with THE DINNER LIST, a wistful, romantic and heartbreaking story based on the popular question “If you could have dinner with any five people, living or dead, who would they be?”

Every year, Sabrina and her best friend, Jessica, celebrate their birthdays with a dinner out. This year, Sabrina is shocked when she enters a restaurant on her 30th birthday to see not only Jessica, but also her estranged father, Robert; her former teacher, Professor Conrad; her ex-boyfriend, Tobias; and an annoyed Audrey Hepburn, all seated at one table. Sabrina quickly realizes that she is about to answer that famous question over a night of great food, abundant wine and, of course, lots of difficult conversations. As Sabrina realizes why the group has come together, she learns to accept what she needs to enter her 30s with closure, contentment and hope.

In alternating chapters, the reader is both invited to take a seat at the table and given a chronology of Sabrina’s decade-long relationship with Tobias and what led to their eventual dissolution. As Sabrina starts to come to terms with her messiest relationships (after all, her estranged father and best friend are also at the table), the reader is treated to scintillating conversations at the dinner table that serve to move the plot along while dissecting the events of Sabrina’s past. Serle does a remarkable job of balancing both plotlines, never once giving away too much or slowing down the pace. The alternating chapters work in tandem, with one informing the next through Serle’s deft and careful plotting.

The story of Sabrina and Tobias is heart-wrenching in all of the best ways. Sabrina first met Tobias when she was only a junior in college in California, though they never even learned one another’s names. Four years later, all the way across the country, the two crossed paths yet again in a stopped subway car. Their first date followed soon after, and they were inseparable --- until they weren’t. Bolstered by fate, compromise and an all-encompassing love, the relationship between Sabrina and Tobias seemed to be written in the stars, but it was not without its tensions. Tobias, for all of his “book boyfriend” qualities, has his faults: he can be indecisive, a bit lazy and occasionally greedy. Sabrina, meanwhile, is accommodating beyond her means and often blind in her love for him.

Still, they are the true loves of one another’s lives, and you will root for them as much as you will sigh, groan and weep about their bad decisions. Serle crafts their love story so beautifully and realistically that it seems impossible that they could not still be together. So what happened? You will be flipping pages well past your bedtime to find out.

The beauty of Sabrina’s story is that, while she, Tobias, Jessica and even her estranged father are all flawed, none of them are purely good or bad. They all have made tragic mistakes and accepted unacceptable compromises, but who among us has not? Where Serle’s character development truly shines is in the relationship between Sabrina and Jessica. When the two first became best friends, they were gorgeous and broke young twenty-somethings, but now Jessica is married with a baby and Sabrina is floundering. Their friendship has fizzled out, as most adult friendships do, but the interesting thing is that neither one has done anything wrong. Serle writes the most realistic description of adult friendships --- especially female ones --- that I have ever read, and Sabrina and Jessica will make you laugh, cry and cringe.

THE DINNER LIST is a sentimental story, one in which we see Sabrina grow and accept that she must forgive both others and herself if she is to enter her 30s with any potential for closure or growth. If the premise sounds impossible, you’re simply not using your imagination. Where a lesser author might waste precious time explaining the magic of the situation, Serle launches into the dinner feet first, appetizers warmed and wine pouring. Over the course of a few hours, she explores love, grief, addiction, friendship, death, marriage and so much more --- all without weighing down her highly imaginative premise. This story is full of pain, but it is the most delicious kind --- the kind that will make you feel as though you, too, have lost something, and will make you all the more grateful for the good things around you.

Serle is new to millennial writing, but I hope that she continues to explore this time in every young person’s life in many more books, for her talent is limitless and her voice profound.
Was this review helpful?
I was only going to give a written book review for this book until I read Chapter 1.  After Chapter 2, I couldn't read it fast enough.  This book is the ultimate romantic women's fiction novel!!  It is absolutely perfect.  From the timelines to the ticking clock of the dinner - I was on the edge of my seat the entire time.  And... it's a debut novel!!
Was this review helpful?
*Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC of this title in exchange for an honest review!*

I really enjoyed this book. There is just something about it that is stylish and classy... and it's not just Audrey Hepburn being a character! This novel follows an original idea and take you on a ride full of humor, heartbreak, and redemption. I would highly recommend this. It is a MUST read if you like Audrey Hepburn, though.
Was this review helpful?
Who would you invite if you could have dinner with five?  

This is a difficult story to rate.  I listened to it on Audio after receiving the ARC on NetGalley. 

Initially, I was turned off by the premise.  Yeah.  Five at dinner.  She should have invited Plato. 

Then I was intrigued.  Why did Sabrina chose the five she did? Loss and desertion are clearly ever-present in her life.  She has founded the love of her life on a presumption of impending loss, and when it happens, she isn’t surprised, but she is devastated.  And then?

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Was this review helpful?