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Review: Strangers at the Feast

November 25, 2010

On the surface, Eleanor and Gavin Olson have a happy marriage and a good life, but things aren’t always as they appear.  It’s hard to pin down just what’s wrong, but you can’t help but feel the undercurrent of discontent, especially with Gavin.  Two children, Ginny and Douglas, were raised in that environment and it seems to have had a lingering affect on them, even in adulthood.

Douglas is married to a woman who’s worried about appearances and they have three children.  He’s invested a lot of money in an office tower that displaced several families and businesses.  The tower was completed at around the same time the economy turned sour, so Douglas stands to lose a lot of money.  Ginny is a professor who’s just adopted a seven-year old Indian girl and bought a new home – she’s hosting Thanksgiving this year to introduce her family to both.

Right from the start, it seems like everything goes wrong with the dinner and the family is forced to move their celebration to another location.  From there, things go from bad to worse and eventually spiral out of control.

Strangers at the Feast by Jennifer Vanderbes is a thought-provoking page turner!  The point of view shifts between all of the characters, so readers get a full view of all the relationships involved.   On page 19, it’s revealed that that the family will be talking to the police later that night, but the reason isn’t discovered until much later in the book, so the suspense is built up quickly.  I found myself turning the pages as fast as I could to find out what had happened.

At times it seemed like the Olsons had so little in common, I couldn’t help but wonder if they’d ever really felt like a family unit.  Eleanor lived in a little bit of a dream world and demons from Gavin’s past kept him somewhat remote.  Knowing the thoughts of each of the characters helped me realize how they got to be who they are today.  I found that I could relate to almost all of the characters in some way, so the changing points of view worked very well for me.  It made me think about the way even small things can shape us.

The whole book takes place on Thanksgiving sometime in the current day.  I found Strangers at the Feast to be fascinating and thought provoking, and I do recommend it, even with its tragic undertones.

Review copy provided by Simon & Schuster.  I am an Indiebound Affiliate.
42 Comments leave one →
  1. November 25, 2010 5:46 am

    I’ve heard great things about this book. I have it waiting for me. I think I’ll have to pick it up very soon. Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. Diane permalink
    November 25, 2010 6:24 am

    What a perfect time to have read and enjoyed this book. It hooked me as well, so I even bought her first book, Easter Island. Happy thanksgiving Kathy

  3. November 25, 2010 7:22 am

    I am sold! I love it that you were able to relate to so many of the characters at least on some level and I like seeing stories from different points of view.

  4. November 25, 2010 7:38 am

    Great review, Kathy! I have a copy of this and you’re inspiring me to bump it up.

  5. November 25, 2010 7:38 am

    Sounds like a good page turner!

  6. November 25, 2010 7:50 am

    What an appropriate review for today! I love when a story is so good that I find myself racing through to find out what happens, but I hate it too, because the words don’t get savored as much!

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

  7. November 25, 2010 8:35 am

    Great review. Thank you. I have this book in my pile and now look forward to it after reading what you thought.
    Happy Thanksgiving!!

  8. November 25, 2010 8:44 am

    This is so strange. I think I have a book with the same title but written by a different author. Good review.

  9. November 25, 2010 8:58 am

    Great review, and although we here in Canada have had our Thanksgiving many weeks ago, I too feel this is an appropriate time to read this one. Thanks for your review.

  10. November 25, 2010 8:59 am

    I read Easter Island by the same author and loved it. I added this one to my to-read list. Thanks for the great review!

  11. November 25, 2010 9:57 am

    Perhaps not for me, but I enjoyed your review.
    Happy Thanksgiving

  12. November 25, 2010 10:04 am

    Great choice for today! Wishing you all a very Happy Thanksgiving!

  13. November 25, 2010 10:42 am

    Happy Thanksgiving! I read Strangers at the Feast and liked it. Jennifer wrote a piece for On the Bookcase. I loved Easter Island.

  14. November 25, 2010 11:11 am

    I enjoy books with different points of view and some mystery that keeps you turning the pages. This sounds like a great Thanksgiving read. I’ll be adding it to my wishlist. Nice review Kathy. Happy Thanksgiving!

  15. November 25, 2010 12:07 pm

    Another one to add to the TBR list! It sounds like it would have been the perfect read for today (later when everyone is stuffed and napping…. I love to read.)

    Happy Thanksgiving Kathy!

  16. November 25, 2010 12:39 pm

    Sounds like the perfect book to read around the Thanksgiving holiday. I’ll have to acquire a copy so I can read it next year.

  17. November 25, 2010 12:48 pm

    It sounds really interesting. I like that you said it’s a page-turner. I’m going to keep it in mind. Thanks for the review.

  18. Beth Hoffman permalink
    November 25, 2010 1:11 pm

    This book is on my list. Terrific review, Kathy!

  19. November 25, 2010 1:37 pm

    A Thanksgiving read – that’s so cool. I’m stuck trying to think of a book I read awhile back that also centered around this day but it won’t come to me. However, this one sounds great!

  20. November 25, 2010 2:29 pm

    This one’s on my wish list – and your review is posted on the perfect day. Happy Thanksgiving!

  21. November 25, 2010 4:36 pm

    What a perfect book for this holiday! Have a lovely Thanksgiving, Kathy. 🙂

  22. November 25, 2010 6:28 pm

    Wow I wish I had read this book before as it sounds perfect for today. In any event, based on your review I’m pulling it from my TBR stack.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  23. November 25, 2010 7:08 pm

    This sounds like such a good book. I’ve heard about it lately – might have to look into reading this one. Hope you’re having a wonderful Thanksgiving Kathy.

  24. November 25, 2010 8:04 pm

    Happy Thanksgiving Kathy! Amy and I just chatted with the author about this one and talked to her about setting a book during this time period. I am glad that you enjoyed the book.

  25. November 26, 2010 1:18 am

    Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, Kathy!

  26. November 26, 2010 6:33 am

    Wow, this looks really good. Looks like the kind of thing I love reading. Happy Thanksgiving!

  27. November 26, 2010 11:01 am

    Oh I love books that take place on a single day — this one sounds really interesting and well done. Great review!

  28. November 26, 2010 2:35 pm

    I have a copy of this one and now I really feel compelled to get it read…what an excellent review!

  29. November 26, 2010 3:06 pm

    I sometimes like tragic reads, so thanks for the recommendation.

  30. November 26, 2010 11:43 pm

    This sounds like a great book! Loved your review. Hope you had a great Thanksgiving, Kathy.

  31. November 27, 2010 8:38 am

    Sounds intriguing! I love that it takes place around Thanksgiving. Perfect read for this time of year.

  32. November 27, 2010 10:16 am

    I wanted to read this before Thanksgiving, but it didn’t work out. I’ve decided to put it aside for next year because too many other books have snuck in!

  33. November 28, 2010 8:40 am

    I remember reading another review of this book, possibly at Sandy’s but I’m not sure. It’s definitely on my wish list, this one.

  34. November 28, 2010 10:55 am

    I’ve read some wonderful reviews on this one, and yours ranks right up there! I’m excited to see what happens in this book!

  35. November 28, 2010 12:41 pm

    This is one of my all time faves for 2010 reads. I could not put it down and felt so charged by the ending. An incredibly intelligent fiction where each character comes alive and we as readers linked to them via our own lived experiences.

    Very happy to hear that you enjoyed this one too. Girl we have the same taste for Good Lit! yeah!

  36. November 28, 2010 3:17 pm

    I have been reading reviews of this all over the place and am so very intrigued about this book. I get the impression that it’s rather sticky and emotional read, and I really, really want to read this one. I was so glad to have come across your review. It sounds like a book I would just love.

  37. stacybuckeye permalink
    November 28, 2010 3:58 pm

    I’ll have to look for this one. I like books with complicated relationships and the suspense is an added bonus. Great review.

  38. November 28, 2010 5:05 pm

    Sounds like a great book club read.

  39. November 28, 2010 7:13 pm

    I loved this book. I only wish I had read it closer to Thanksgiving.

    Speaking of Thanksgiving, hope you had a really good one, Kathy. I’ve ceased grazing and I feel as if I am going into withdrawals.

  40. November 28, 2010 7:53 pm

    Every time I hear about this book, I want to read it more. Love the timing of your review!

  41. November 29, 2010 11:11 am

    I’m glad you enjoyed this book, Kathy. It definitely is thought provoking and fascinating.

    I really enjoyed your review.
    ~ Amy

  42. December 14, 2010 1:04 pm

    i really liked this book too and i’m glad to see that you enjoyed it! it was quite thought provoking and made me think alot about my own family.

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