I have to say first that my latest ARC to arrive from Library Thing's Early Reviewers program, Dinner with Edward by Isabel Vincent, exceeded my expectations in some ways. In others, it pole-vaulted over them. I give it my highest praise for a book that celebrates food, friendship and family: my New Yorker Father, the chef, would have loved this story.
About that: Dinner with Edward is not a novel but a memoir, so the female main character is also the author. I didn't realize this fact until after I finished the story and did a little research. Until that point a part of me wondered if it was even plausible that a middle-aged journalist whose marriage was falling to pieces would befriend a nonagenarian mourning the recent loss of his ninety-five year-old wife. Unless Ms. Vincent is lying through her teeth, it seems that it is.
If you adore stories of New York, this book will give you plenty to add to your mental library of love. Same goes for you foodies out there; every chapter is headed by a menu almost guaranteed to make you drool. The descriptions of the meals are so well-written that you'll get hungrier with every page. What I enjoyed most were the two main characters, and how they helped each other through their grief simply by having dinner together and talking about life, love, and of course loss. I did wish that the author had made the female main character something other than a journalist, because I never met a journalist I didn't want to slap in the back of the head (remember, I thought it was a novel) but now that I know it's actually her job, I won't smack her.
Readers should also prepare for some sadness, especially when Edward talks about the wife he lost. I also had some rough moments when Isabel provided certain details on her disintegrating marriage. It's tough for me to find death or divorce entertaining. That said, it was important for my perception of the characters to know those grim moments, as it magnified the hope and pleasure they gave to each other through their friendship. I think if only we could all know someone like Edward, or Isabel, life wouldn't suck quite so much at times.