Book Review: The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle

The Dinner ListAbout the Book

“We’ve been waiting for an hour.” That’s what Audrey says. She states it with a little bit of an edge, her words just bordering on cursive. That’s the thing I think first. Not: Audrey Hepburn is at my birthday dinner, but Audrey Hepburn is annoyed.

At one point or another, we’ve all been asked to name five people, living or dead, with whom we’d like to have dinner. Why do we choose the people we do? And what if that dinner was to actually happen?

When Sabrina arrives at her thirtieth birthday dinner she finds at the table not just her best friend, but also three significant people from her past, and well, Audrey Hepburn. As the appetizers are served, wine poured, and dinner table conversation begins, it becomes clear that there’s a reason these six people have been gathered together.

Format: Paperback (278 pp.)    Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Published: 7th March 2019 Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Romance

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My Review

I’ll confess The Dinner List is not the sort of book I’d usually be drawn to; it’s a bit lighter than my favourite historical crime mysteries. Also, the mention of magical realism in a book description usually sends me running in the opposite direction. However, when I read the first few chapters of The Dinner List on the Readers First website, I found myself intrigued by the clever concept and, of course, the presence of Audrey Hepburn in the story helped.

The book alternates between conversation around the table at Sabrina’s birthday dinner and chapters recounting the story of the relationship between Sabrina and a very important person in her life. The guests (whose identities I’m going to leave the reader to find out) all offer their different perspectives on the ups and downs, the highs and lows of this relationship. As one of them says, “Sometimes it’s impossible to move forward without understanding what happened.”

Clever readers may not be surprised by the piece of information disclosed half way through the book but I certainly was and it changed how I felt about what I read from that point on (but definitely not in a bad way). If anything, it made me feel more invested in the characters.

Rebecca Serle has a deft touch with prose and I particularly liked the lively banter and occasional mild flirtation around the dinner table. The presence of Audrey Hepburn certainly brought a sparkle to proceedings but the author also imbued her character with real warmth and insight. Just how you’d like to imagine Audrey Hepburn would be if she was a guest at your birthday dinner.

The Dinner List is a romantic, heart-warming story about love, loss, friendship, the possibility of second chances and the gift of forgiveness. Amongst others, it poses the questions: Are some things meant to be? Are there some things you can’t fix?

20 Books of Summer 2019I received a review copy courtesy of publishers, Allen & Unwin, and Readers First. The Dinner List is book 7 of my 20 Books of Summer.

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In three words: Romantic, witty, engaging

Try something similar…The Hopes and Dreams of Lucy Baker by Jenni Keer (read my review here)

Rebecca SerleAbout the Author

Rebecca Serle is an author and television writer who lives between New York and Los Angeles. Serle most recently co-developed the hit TV adaptation of her young adult series Famous in Love, now on Freeform. She loves Nancy Meyers films, bathrobes, and giving unsolicited advice on love. (Photo credit: Goodreads author page)

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3 thoughts on “Book Review: The Dinner List by Rebecca Serle

  1. That’s exactly my reaction to magical realism too. I’m not sure I’d want Hepburn at my party – she’s far too inelegant and I’d feel decidedly clumsy in comparison. Unless maybe the magical realism aspect can give me a makeover….


  2. When I saw you were planning to read it, I was curious if you’d like it as much as I did. I’d read it last winter in Florida – it came out earlier in the states.

    I don’t tend to like heavy historical novels anyway, and I like a witty, original romantic read, but what I didn’t expect was to be as moved as I was.

    Since I didn’t know about the magical realism part, that didn’t put me off (I don’t think I’ve ever knowingly read anything of that genre) and in that, and every other way, you and I are once again, on the same page.


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