Strangers at the Feast

Strangers at the Feast On Thanksgiving Day as the country teeters on the brink of a recession three generations of the Olson family gather Eleanor and Gavin worry about their daughter a single academic and her newl
  • Title: Strangers at the Feast
  • Author: Jennifer Vanderbes
  • ISBN: 9781439166987
  • Page: 172
  • Format: Paperback
  • Strangers at the Feast
    On Thanksgiving Day 2007, as the country teeters on the brink of a recession, three generations of the Olson family gather Eleanor and Gavin worry about their daughter, a single academic, and her newly adopted Indian child, and about their son, who has been caught in the imploding real estate bubble While the Olsons navigate the tensions and secrets that mark their relatOn Thanksgiving Day 2007, as the country teeters on the brink of a recession, three generations of the Olson family gather Eleanor and Gavin worry about their daughter, a single academic, and her newly adopted Indian child, and about their son, who has been caught in the imploding real estate bubble While the Olsons navigate the tensions and secrets that mark their relationships, seventeen year old Kijo Jackson and his best friend Spider set out from the nearby housing projects on a mysterious job A series of tragic events bring these two worlds ever closer, exposing the dangerously thin line between suburban privilege and urban poverty, and culminating in a crime that will change everyone s life.In her gripping new book, Jennifer Vanderbes masterfully lays bare the fraught lives of this complex cast of characters and the lengths to which they will go to protect their families Strangers at the Feast is at once a heartbreaking portrait of a family struggling to find happiness and an exploration of the hidden costs of the American dream Published to international acclaim, Jennifer Vanderbes s first book, Easter Island, was hailed as one of those rare novels that appeals equally to heart, mind, and soul, by the San Francisco Chronicle In her second novel, this powerful writer reaches new heights of storytelling This page turner wrestles with the most important issues of our time race, class, and above all e
    Strangers at the Feast By Jennifer Vanderbes,

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    About " Jennifer Vanderbes "

  • Jennifer Vanderbes

    Jennifer Vanderbes received her B.A in English Literature from Yale and her M.F.A in Creative Writing from the Iowa Writers Workshop Her first novel, Easter Island, was named a best book of 2003 by the Washington Post and Christian Science Monitor and was translated into 16 languages Her second novel, Strangers at the Feast, was called a thriller that also raiseslarge and haunting questions about the meaning of guilt, innocence, and justice by O, The Oprah Magazine Her third novel, The Secret of Raven Point, will be published by Scribner in 2014 Part mystery, part coming of age tale, part World War II novel, Vanderbes s moving latest is an empathetic, oblique take on the layers of damage done during war Kirkus Reviews She has received numerous awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship and a New York Public Library Cullman Fellowship.Her writing has also appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and Granta Her facebook page is facebook pages Jenn

  • 630 Comments

  • What is it about Thanksgiving that makes it such a juicy setting for a dysfunctional family gathering This was good and I plan to write a review later


  • American mythologizing of Thanksgiving is still perpetuated the idea of goodwill between Indigenous Americans and European pilgrims and the lie that America was founded on cooperation and integrity rather than eminent domain and genocide The myth of the first Thanksgiving shapes and parallels the thematic core of Vanderbes new novel, a scathing, biting, and bitterly droll portrait of a suburban family that takes place on Thanksgiving 2007 It is no coincidence that Stamford Connecticut, the site [...]


  • Ever hear somebody tell you how distant their ex is, how marrying said person in retrospect was just insane And then you meet this ex at some function or other and find said dullard charming, kind, intelligent Your perspective is entirely different Families are like that too sometimes, where one member has strong opinions about another, but truly does not know the loved one and has judged him or her far differently than others would The words strangers at the feast in this story has a double mea [...]


  • Any book dealing with the housing crisis would not interest most financially depressed Americans When I received a copy of Strangers at the Feast by Jennifer Vanderbes, and read the notes, I wasn t sure that I would find anything of interest Depression, most likely.But the minute I broke down and opened the book, I couldn t put it down.The Olson family is celebrating Thanksgiving 2007 Gavin, the patriarch, is a Vietnam war vet who finds solace in his silence His wife, Eleanor, reminded me of a 1 [...]


  • This book had many echoes for me, preceded as it is by a massive literature of family interactions Perhaps it is this week s cover of Time magazine carrying the picture of Jonathan Franzen, but The Corrections comes to mind, as does Ian McEwan s Saturday Strangers is an in depth look at an ordinary family, together on a holiday The action takes place in one day, Thanksgiving, which has got to be one of the stressful vacations ever invented for modern man The holiday comes in the middle of the w [...]


  • Let me say it straight out this book is astoundingly GOOD Page turning, jaw dropping, laugh out loud, cry into your sleeves, gasp with recognition GOOD It takes on nothing less than the theme of what is wrong with America today and it does it very well.The action takes place over one Thanksgiving day with lots of flashbacks There hasn t been a family like the Olsons since Zoe Heller s The Believers with a dollop of the movie Pieces of April blended in This family DEFINES dysfunction Gavin, the f [...]


  • Incredibly sad, but funny too The Olson family has gathered together for Thanksgiving dinner at daughter s Ginny s house, a college professor who has just adopted a mute 7 year old girl from India Her brother Douglas has overextended himself in the real estate market and since the bubble burst is almost broke, much to the dismay and scorn of his wife Denise Of course their three young children are present, and the grandparents, Eleanor and Gavin, who love each other but have little in common Ele [...]


  • I enjoyed the stories that were told about the past and personalities of this slightly nut so family that I m almost everyone could relate to a member of their own family Eleanor and Gavin are the mother and father of Ginny and Douglas Eleanor is and overbearing mother and Gavin is a Vietnam vet who got his kneecap busted up at the start of his arrival in the war The injury probably saved his life because he had to go on desk duty but he is very angry all the years later that his manhood was dam [...]


  • I am not sure I would have picked it up to read on my own I received it from Simon and Schuster as a giveaway and I am really grateful for that opportunity because I really enjoyed the book.The author skillfully shines a light on so many issues facing society today Throughout the book, the author s use of comments by the characters, to foreshadow the last scene, is very effective In one day, many of their insecurities and fears are revealed, almost casually, and often with humor Without being ov [...]


  • I am in awe of this book Every once in awhile a book comes along that just takes my breath away and this book did that for me A horrific crime occurs on Thanksgiving Day as 3 families gather together The families include parents of 2 grown children and their children BUT, take note, this plot doesn t even begin to describe all the sub stories that unfold in these family a lives It becomes much, much deeper than that.Listed below are some quotes which struck me and were taken from different sub p [...]


  • I wanted to like this novel than I actually did, and ultimately found it very disappointing I found the characters that Vanderbes created to be initially interesting, and thought her foreshadowing and tension building to be enough to keep me turning the pages, but then grew irritated at the two dimensional characters, who she never fully rounds out beyond stereotypes the academic do gooder, the traditional babyboomer housewife, the ambitious and greedy son, the poor but well meaning black kids, [...]


  • I liked how each character took turns telling about themselves and they where true to thierselves real they were i can see so many pieces of people that i know in them.I agree with some of the characters and disagree withsome I thing the way soldiers were treated durning and after vetnam a disgrace those who spit on them are the blighted ones I am a mix of genny and her mom.I wanted to know about the characters what happened next to them.I would have liked a different ending Happy everafter typ [...]


  • This book is eerily prescient about the present day The plot is simple enough, following a semi functional New York family through Thanksgiving day in 2007 Yet it contains the distant rumbles of economic collapse, the offhandedness of privilege, and in an unexpected though fully prepared act of violence, it reveals the underbelly of race relations in America in ways frighteningly similar to the unarmed boy recently shot to death by a man not charged in the incident If fiction is a means of knowi [...]


  • This was a total surprise that I loved this book It starts out as a simple straight forward book however every chapter creates a new twist and new layer A great great book


  • The Olson family gathers to celebrate the Thanksgiving holidays at the home of one of its members, Ginny Ginny has recently made some drastic changes to her life, adopting a daughter from India, buying a house and her decision to host the family for this event is surprising but seems to be in line with this new phase of her life Her brother Douglas and his wife Denise are drowning in severe debt as a result of Douglas s over speculation in the real estate market that has now gone bust So while t [...]


  • Somewhere in my youth or childhood, I must have done something good Because I seem to have gotten myself not only on an advance access reading list from Simon Schuster, but on their mailing list for finished copies of books, too About a month ago I received a copy of Strangers at the Feast by Jennifer Vanderbes from the good folks at Scribner, along with a copy of The Hundred Foot Journey reviewed here , which makes me suspect that it might be a mailing list catering to bookclubs I barely rememb [...]


  • Strangers at the Feast tells the story of the dysfunctional Olson family as they gather for Thanksgiving dinner, 2007 Little does the family have reason to suspect that their day will end in tragedy The three generations of family members consists of Gavin, quiet, aloof, Vietnam Vet his wife Eleanor their two children Douglas, married to Denise with three children Gavin and Eleanor s single daughter Ginger, an intellectual working in academia, is hosting the dinner in her newly acquired, but run [...]


  • The Short of It Just like a runaway train, Strangers at the Feast picks up speed and hurls you toward its dramatic conclusion You won t be able to put this one down The Rest of It It s Thanksgiving day Ginny, has invited her parents, her brother, his wife and their three kids to enjoy dinner in her new home Ginny, single and an academic sort at that, is not well versed in the kitchen, but is excited about hosting such an important meal The others are excited about the prospect of seeing her new [...]


  • I wrestled with 3 to 4 stars for this book Let s say 3.5 The synopsis given when you click on the book here on GR is very accurate.The Olson family Eleanor and Gavin the early 60 year old parents and their grown children Ginny single liberal guardian of a mute girl she brings home from India and Doug and his wife, Denise, and their 3 childrenry well off family, caught up in the 9 11 economic bust gather at Ginny s newly purchased house a true fixer , but since her oven fails in the middle of din [...]


  • Strangers at the Feast is set on Thanksgiving Day in Connecticut in 2007 The story is told from many points of view, from different members of the Olsen family coming together for the holiday, and from a young black man who attempts to fight back against those who have hurt him.The Olsen family is filled with dysfunction past hurts, insecutities, loneliness, financial difficulties, the list goes on The character that really stood out for me was Eleanor, the grandmother For some reason her story [...]


  • A family gathers for Thanksgiving, all having their own problems, that they are caught up in At the same time there is a family who lost their home to one of the Olsen family s greed to wipe everyone on a block out of their homes, so that his company can build a building on their land He has one home in particular condemned for blight and the family loses the home they have lived in for generations Kuji and his friend are out on Thanksgiving hoping to make a point to the Olsen family The two fam [...]


  • I loved this book Reading it was like putting together a giant jigsaw puzzle, where every piece that you put in it s place brought the picture just a little into focus By the end of the book, you had a complete picture, and realized that every piece was of equal importance, each piece contributed to the whole, and the picture would not have been complete if any of the pieces were missing I think my mouth fell open about one third of the way through the book, and hung that way until long after I [...]


  • This was the first book we read for the new book club I m in one of two We had all heard good things about this one and we were all disappointed On the surface this seems like it would really be up my alley I love books about families in crisis , but unfortunately the characters were so unlikeable that I couldn t get into it And beyond unlikeable, I just didn t find them that interesting there was the mother who was fragile and old fashioned, the son who lost his money in the real estate bust, [...]


  • Really, really good read.Briefly this is about a day in the life of the Olson family Thanksgiving Day, 2007.We learn all about Eleanor and Gavin, who are now concerned about their single daughter, an academic who has just bought at house and adopted an Indian girl of 7 And about their son, who is married with 3 children, but who is caught in the imploding real estate bubble.Meanwhile 2 black teenagers set out from the nearby housing projects on a mysterious job.Tragic events bring the 2 worlds t [...]


  • A family gathers for Thanksgiving, but events put them on track for disaster Ms Vanderbes is a brilliant writer, but this book doesn t showcase her talent The characters are stereotypes, but not particularly good stereotypes The book is ninety percent set up with anvil level foreshadowing one review referred to the book as being served an appetizer when promised a feast There is a brilliant idea for a novel contained within these pages, and Ms Vanderbes possesses the skill to make such an idea c [...]


  • This book pulled together so many themes and characters exemplifying contemporary American life that I admire the author It s Thanksgiving Day in upscale Connecticut, and two generations of the family, divided by terrible secrets, come together to share the holiday A second set of characters are unwelcome guests, and one of the family empties a gun into the intruders Anyone of the family could have done it, but it s not the one you expect.The richness lies in the characters, the father a repress [...]


  • Here s the description from On Thanksgiving Day 2007, as the country teeters on the brink of a recession, three generations of the Olson family gather Eleanor and Gavin worry about their daughter, a single academic, and her newly adopted Indian child, and about their son, who has been caught in the imploding real estate bubble While the Olsons navigate the tensions and secrets that mark their relationships, seventeen year old Kijo Jackson and his best friend Spider set out from the nearby housin [...]


  • I just finished the book and I am spellbound I browsed through the reviews posted here Many loved this book because of the artful sketch of American suburbia life And the characters are convincing and complex But, that is only a small aspect of this book I think most of the general public, even many well read folks, will miss the depth of the story and Vanderbes should not apologize because I like stories that change you without you knowing why Clues houses on Freedom fries WMD in red Pryia bein [...]


  • I was stuck on an airplane for seven hours with my Kindle and this book so I did finish it, butI didn t like anyone in this book, which usually doesn t make me dislike a whole book, but in this case I think it did I just didn t care whether they ended up having Thanksgiving together or not, because THEY didn t really care either It altogether gave me a rotten turkey taste in my mouth when it was over.


  • Vanderbes is nothing if not ambitious in this novel that melds a treatment of Big American Social Themes Vietnam Feminism Racism Gentrification with an acutely observed study of a single American suburban family She pulls it off, though, and with grace and insight and a real sense of her characters and of their vulnerabilities It s a sad and beautiful novel, and I think also a very accomplished one.


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