Todd’s Review of Dinner With Lisa by R. L. Prendergast – Blog Tour

Reflections of a Book Addict  was recently approached to join the blog tour for Dinner With Lisa by R. L. Prendergast, which we eagerly accepted!  Kim is the usual fan of historical fiction on the blog but after reading the synopsis for Dinner With Lisa I convinced her to let me take the lead on reviewing this novel.  I was really intrigued by the unique mix of history (Great Depression era) and the infamous Mona Lisa.  The cover alone was definitely enough to pique my interest!  So, with all that sorted out I began reading, not quite knowing what to expect.

Joseph Gaston is a nearly 40-year-old widower who tragically lost his wife 6 months ago when birthing their daughter, Clare.  Additionally, he has three other children ranging from 4 to 11 years of age.  Jobless during the Great Depression, Joseph is desperate to gain financial security in order to survive and provide for his family .  His brother Henri convinces him to travel to Philibuster, Alberta with the promise of a job and childcare for his children there.  Unfortunately for him, the job does not materialize, and he barely gets by with some assistance from Henri and his sister-in-law Tilda.  Joseph endures hardship after hardship, and confronts complex issues of racism and poverty that were prevalent throughout the Depression era.  Desperate to save his family, Joseph nearly gives up his children in order to give them a better life, when he learns about Lisa.  Angry and at the end of his rope, he tries one final act that he hopes will put and end to all of his suffering.  What is it?  What will happen to his family?  What will happen to Joseph?

Upon finishing this book I had a newfound respect for those who lived through the 1930’s, more commonly known as the Great Depression.  Most of our experiences with said era are via Of Mice and Men or old pictures of families in trucks piled high with belongings driving across the dust bowl.  Yet when you actually look at how difficult it was to live day in and day out, it’s a miracle that so many were able to keep going despite the constant challenges.  Not only were there physical challenges for Joseph, such as how to feed all his children or look after them while he is out job hunting, but there were immense emotional and mental challenges that I could never imagine.  Trying to keep a clear head and endure an endless stream of setbacks and roadblocks must have been incredibly draining and disheartening, yet Joseph is able to keep going in hopes that he will give his children the life they deserve eventually.  Prendergast writes in the style of a classic, with immense detail that is a great testament to the large amount of research that he must have put in to create this novel.  Yes, it’s not filled with action scenes or nail-biting suspense, but the honest and fantastic language that he uses to describe Joseph’s plight and Joseph’s tenacity throughout it all was incredibly well constructed.  Kudos to Prendergast for giving us a real and gritty look into a slice of history that is often overlooked.  I know I will never see it the same way again!

4 out of 5 stars

Dinner With Lisa by R. L. Prendergast
Dekko Publishing (2011)
Paperback: 280 pages
ISBN:  9780978454821

Special thanks to R.L. Prendergast for sending me my review copy!

The February Round-Up

February was a fairly lackluster month outside of the reading front.  I continued with my strong reading pace adding another 13 books to my total for the year! (Currently at 28 for the year which is about 25% of my total goal!!!)  Nothing big has happened this month besides Todd’s skiing accident (more on this later).  Besides our weekly bowling sessions we’ve kept busy with some trips to NYC again this month.  Staff blogger Adam had his birthday this month, so a trip to NYC to celebrate was a must!  Our first day in the city I met up with my sister to run some errands for her wedding.  We had lunch at Eataly which was absolutely sublime.  If you have never been to/heard of Eataly you are missing out 100%.  Mario Batali collaborated with other chefs and food industry professionals and created an Italian haven.  There are sections of Eataly where you can stop and eat whatever your heart desires ( all within an Italian style of course).  Besides all of the munching stations you can buy TONS of imported food from Italy – pasta, sauce, oil, cheese, etc.  You can easily spend $100 in there in 5 seconds flat.  Everything made me reminisce about my trip to Italy this past spring, so you can bet your bottom dollar I bought a bunch of Italy home with me that night.  Before heading out to Adam’s birthday celebration at a bar on the Upper East Side called Off the Rails, Todd and I went to dinner with my sister and her fiancée for our first taste of Korean food! It was delicious and I can’t wait to get it again!  Adam’s party was a great way to catch up with friends from college, and a good time was had by all!  Of course before heading back to Connecticut a trip to The Strand was thrown in.  I picked up some exciting YA reads and was able to get some of them completed this month already!

Me and Grandma!

Other than our trip to NYC the only other exciting thing to happen this month was a celebration for my aunt and grandma’s birthdays!  Grandma hit the big 90 this year!  Very big milestone!

Now as I mentioned earlier in my post, Todd unfortunately had a skiing accident this past weekend.  He slipped on some ice on the mountain, hitting his head and causing a serious concussion, which wound up causing a seizure.  Fortunately besides a shoulder injury and some facial cuts he is doing much better.  He has some follow-up doctors appointments to attend, but we’re hoping for the best.  If you notice his lack of posting in the coming weeks, it’s due to his needing rest (both mentally and physically) to recoup.  He says to tell you all hello though!

On to the bookish front!  I tried to keep my choices eclectic again opting for fiction, historical fiction, and some young adult dystopias.  As always I’m still behind on my reviews (OY). I’m hoping to catch up in the next two weeks.  My favorite read for the month was definitely Wither by Lauren DeStefano. Wither is the first novel in her Chemical Garden trilogy; book 2 Fever just came out last week!  I was lucky enough to snatch up signed copies of BOTH from my local Barnes and Noble.  (I have an unsigned copy of Wither to give away with my review, so keep an eye out!)

As always we have some interesting reviews coming up in the blog front.  We’re taking part in two blog tours in March – one for The Book of Lost Fragrances, the other for Dinner With Lisa.  Besides the books I’m reading and reviewing Adam has some historical fiction novel reviews coming and Charlie is reviewing Steve Jobs’ biography near the end of the month.  Todd also has  few books in the queue once he’s feeling better.  In the coming days there might be a new staff announcement as well!! (So excited about this!)

Anyway, that wraps up another month.  Where has 2012 flown by to??  I hope your February was a great one.  Leave any book recommendations you have below!

As Always – Happy Reading!