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Thursday, March 9, 2017

#Audiobook #Review: 3 out of 5 stars for The Dinner by Herman Koch #HermanKoch @BlackstoneAudio #tuesbooktalk #readalong

TITLE: The Dinner
AUTHOR: Herman Koch
NARRATOR: Clive Mantle
PUBLISHER: Blackstone Audio
PUBLICATION DATE: February 13, 2013
FORMAT: Unabridged audiobook
LENGTH: 8 hrs and 55 mins 
GENRE: Literary Fiction, Mystery
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 polite scrapings of cutlery, the conversation remains a gentle hum of polite discourse - the banality of work, the triviality of the holidays. 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 15-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 shows just how far they are prepared to go to protect those they love.

Tautly written, incredibly gripping, and told by an unforgettable narrator, The Dinner promises to be the topic of countless dinner party debates. 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.

When I saw that TuesBookTalk was hosting a read-a-long of this book, I just knew that I had to jump in on it because this book is being made into a movie which will be hitting the theatres in May.

I was intrigued with the whole idea of a book taking place over the span of a dinner. Paul and Claire Lohmann are meeting Paul’s brother and sister-in-law, Serge and Babette Lohmann, for dinner at an upscale restaurant that ordinarily requires that reservations be made months in advance. However, because Serge is a local politician that is a shoe-in to be the next Prime Minister, it was no problem to get in. Serge told Paul that they have to talk about their sons. Paul and Claire have one teenage son, Michel. Serge and Babette have three sons: two biological (Rick and Valerie) and one adopted from Burkina Fasso (Beau). As indicated in the synopsis, Michel and the eldest of Serge’s children have committed a crime and that’s the reason behind the dinner.

I don’t want to spoil the plot, so I will talk about the characters. At first, I felt a bit sorry for Paul. His brother seems to have it all: the gorgeous wife, the skyrocketing career, and a future as a political leader. Serge talks down to Paul, even insulting his taste in women when he callously mentions that Paul likes unattractive women. He seems like a real a$$hole, so I was taken by surprise when he was the one who actually was the only one making sense in the end. Paul wasn’t at all who I expected, and Claire threw me even more! There were some things that transpired in the novel (such as: Claire’s illness in the hospital) that weren’t adequately explained, so the reader is left to draw her own conclusions.

So, an interestingly dark tale of how far someone would go to protect a loved one! There were secrets, secrets, and more secrets! The crime itself was disturbing to me. It actually sickened me that the seriousness of the crime was downplayed, and both Michel and Paul laid the blame on the victim. The author takes us into the past on numerous occasions, which is crucial to understanding the characters’ personalities. My opinions on the book’s characters definitely changed along the way!

Narrator Clive Mantle is new to me, and I thought he was sensational! I loved how his voiced dripped with sarcasm whenever Paul spoke with or about Serge. Paul’s distaste for his brother was very apparent! The pace of the story does move slowly, but that is hardly noticeable when you are listening to Mr. Mantle. Here is a sample of the narration:

I do plan to watch the movie later this year, so I will come back to add my thoughts after seeing it.

3 stars!! It was good, and I enjoyed it.

This book qualifies as:


  1. Great review, Darlene! It was surprising how the book did a complete 180 with the characters. By the end, Paul actually made my skin crawl. I mean what was with the laughing about bad stuff. Total psycho. I can't wait to see what they do with the movie. I would think they should be able to stay pretty close to the book. We shall see!

  2. Wonderful review, I am curious and so glad to hear the narrator was so good!


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