Review: The Dinner Party

The Dinner Party
The Dinner Party by Brenda Janowitz
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I don’t know what I was expecting – but a contemporary novel involving a Jewish family prepping for Pesach! I wanted to read it.

This is a stereotype-ridden romance novel, lazily written. Spoiled rich boy who can’t manage as an adult; social climbing mother who spurns the loving partner of one daughter solely b/c he’s not of the tribe; handsome older doctor who only loves the nurse who’s too busy for him; and on. Even with 15 minutes of my lunch break left, I went back to work rather than read more. If you know me, that says a lot . . .

Apologies to readers who love this book, and to Janowitz who surely put work into it. it’s just not for me. I might soldier on, given the season. If later chapters win me over, I’ll recant.

Toast points at the seder table? And the whole thing about the 4 questions – The youngest recites the 4 questions. So, it’s not big deal that the big sister would prefer not to. This whole book feels like the 1950s, despite its contemporary setting. The timing is incongruent – The mother wouldn’t have marched with MLK if she’s about 50 now and has kids in their 20s. I know it’s a heartwarming story about resolving family relationships. Enjoy it if it’s for you. it’s not for me.

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Review: Anthill

Anthill
Anthill by Edward O. Wilson
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

It took me many reading sessions to begin to feel engaged by this book. I wanted to like it quite a bit more than I did. The large middle section about lives and travails of ant colonies in the Nokobee woods was, by far, the most interesting section. Knowing that the author is a nationally-recognized ant expert, this part is particularly worth reading. I did learn quite a bit about ant life and colony structure – Fascinating. When he started writing about ant-gods and ant feelings, my attention began to wander. It just went on too long. The preceding sections about Raff’s parents’ cliched-doomed southern romance and his own naive-boy meets wild girl at Harvard are not well done. Maybe Wilson felt he needed these to get people to read the environmentally sensitive part. I don’t know. I’d have preferred a short story or non-fiction piece solely about ants.

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