THE DINNER PARTY by Brenda Janowitz


Email this review


This Passover, Sylvia Gold has only one thing on her mind: how can she impress her youngest daughter Becca’s new beau and his family, an old-money banking dynasty that dates back to New York’s gilded age?

For many mothers it would have been enough to have three healthy, successful grown children, two of whom have followed in their father’s footsteps and pursued careers in medicine. It would have been enough to have an adoring husband who finds her social-climbing antics endearing. And it would have been enough to have a beautiful home in Greenwich, Connecticut, and want for nothing. But Sylvia has never been one to say dayenu, the traditional Passover prayer of gratitude and contentment. The neurotic matriarch works herself into a tizzy to win over potential in-laws Edmond and Ursella Rothchild and their boorish son, Henry. This does not sit well with daughter Sarah, whose blue-collar boyfriend, Joe, has always been treated like chopped liver. Novelist Janowitz (Lonely Hearts Club, 2015, etc.) adds to the family drama by setting places at the Seder table for wayward son Gideon and his surprise fiancee, Malika, who's African-American, and for Joe’s boisterous mother, Valentina, whose husband is up the river—and not the Nile. With an impeccable eye for detail, Janowitz skillfully creates scenarios and relationships so authentic that they're simultaneously hilarious and cringe-worthy. Equally compelling is the cast of emotionally complex, nuanced characters who are lovable even at their most exasperating. The only shortcoming with this dramedy is that it finishes too quickly, the conclusion reading more like a chapter ending than the wrap-up this tale deserves.

Despite its rush to the end, this novel delivers poignant universal truths about familial love and conflict in a story that will have readers eagerly turning every delicious page. Thoroughly kosher.

Pub Date: April 12th, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-250-00787-2
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 2016


FictionSUMMER SECRETS by Jane Green
by Jane Green
FictionTHEY MAY NOT MEAN TO, BUT THEY DO by Cathleen Schine
by Cathleen Schine
FictionEVERYBODY RISE by Stephanie Clifford
by Stephanie Clifford