Review: Strangers at the Feast
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.