Crime and punishment, political aspirations, and family dynamics are the centerpiece for the disturbing novel, The Dinner.
Serge Lohman is a politician, but to his family and especially to his brother, he is a narcissistic control freak. When Serge and his wife Babette plan to meet for dinner at an expensive restaurant, accompanied by his brother Paul and wife Claire, he has an agenda.
At first they believe that they all have the same agenda, but after a long and often interrupted meal, they realize there is more going on.
As the narrator, Paul’s story wends its way into the intricacies of the dinner itself, and we learn a lot about his relationships, his personality disorder, and how he views the world. Both he and Claire seem sympathetic characters for a while…until troubling events crop up, and everything changes.
On the other hand, Serge is one of those characters we all love to hate. Full of himself, and someone who loves to hear himself speak, we might just want to clobber him.
Set in Amsterdam, we learn more than we thought we wanted to know as the agenda for the evening unfolds. Subjects: the two sons of Serge and Paul…and then Serge’s adopted son Beau, whose name doesn’t even come up during the meal.
I was frustrated at times by how the story kept weaving back and forth in time, but these forays into the past did offer up insights into the characters. 4.5 stars.