Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Dinner

I read The Dinner by Herman Koch a few weeks was the book chosen for June's book group, and
we met last night to discuss it.  Earlier last week, a friend had asked what we were reading and I had told her that the book was good, but that I wasn't sure that I would necessarily recommend it to anyone, but that I thought that it would lead to a good discussion for the book group.  I was right about the discussion!

The book is about a dinner that takes place at an elegant, expensive restaurant in Amsterdam.  The narrator of the story is Paul who with his wife Claire met up at the restaurant with Paul's brother, Serge and his wive, Babette.  The brothers appear to be quite different from each other. Serge was an up-and-coming candidate for prime minister; Paul was an unemployed teacher.  They met at the restaurant to discuss their fifteen year old sons.  The dinner began quite pleasantly with discussion of movies, wine, etc.As dinner progressed,  the conversation moved to discussing a horrific incident that their sons had been involved in which the police were investigating.

Through-out the story, Paul goes back in time to talk about incidents in his past, which began to explain his and Claire's relationship and history.  As the incident involving the boys is discussed, Paul and Claire's history lends one to examine what role these parents have played in their son's life.

By the end of the book, the glaring question in the reader's mind becomes "How far would I go to protect my child?".

The book is thought-provoking and interesting.  However, I found none of the characters likable, which I am sure was the intent of the author.  For me, that makes it a hard book to recommend.

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