“Love is being, not belonging. Giving and receiving, not possessing.”
– Isabel Vincent, Dinner with Edward
When Isabel meets Edward, both are at a crossroads: he wants to follow his late wife to the grave, and she is ready to give up on love. Thinking she is merely helping Edward’s daughter by agreeing to check in on her nonagenarian dad, Isabel has no idea that the man in the kitchen baking the sublime roast chicken and light-as-air apricot soufflé will end up changing her life.
As Edward and Isabel meet weekly for the glorious dinners Edward prepares, he shares so much more than his recipes for apple galette, the perfect martini or tips for deboning poultry. Edward is teaching Isabel the luxury of slowing down and taking the time to think through everything she does, to deconstruct her own life, cutting it back to the bone and examining the guts, no matter how messy that proves to be.
I have a confession to make… I started reading this book thinking it was a work of fiction. We all make mistakes, right? I’m not sure where I got the idea from… it just landed in my brain and I went from there. After the first few chapters, I realised my mistake and carried on reading. And read I did… actually, I devoured Dinner with Edward in a single sitting. Isabel Vincent is an investigative reporter with the New York Times and writes with a delightful ease. Reading her words is like having a conversation with a good friend!
Isabel is asked by a friend to have dinner with her elderly father, to check in on him after the death of his wife Paula. Over time, Isabel and Edward develop a special kind of friendship, bonding over extravagant meals infused with life lessons. They meet at a time in their lives when they’re both at a crossroads – Isabel is stuck in a crumbling marriage and Edward has just lost his wife of sixty-nine years. The dinners become a happy place for them both and nourish more than just their stomachs. Despite Edwards sexist view of the world – which Isabel puts down to a generational thing – there is no doubting the depth of his love for his wife and the genuine feeling behind the advice he offers. His heart is truly in the right place.
Edward’s meticulously planned menus reflect his personality and how he doesn’t compromise in his priorities. He teaches Isabel the value of friendship, the art of patience, slowing down and taking the time to think things through. He pushes her outside her comfort zone, and gives her the courage to find what makes her happy and make the necessary changes to achieve it. He is determined for Isabel to be happy within herself. In exchange, she provides Edward with friendship, companionship and is a keen student, soaking up his wisdom and knowledge, inside and out of the kitchen!
There are two things I took from this book that are really relevant to my life right now. Edward made two observations that really resonated with me; he said, ‘we live in the age of communication but nobody knows how to communicate anymore,’ and the second is that ‘paradise is not a place but the people in your lives.’ I have no doubt that every reader will take something from this book! I found it to be a complete joy!
AUTHOR: Isabel Vincent
PUBLISHER: Affirm Press
PUB DATE: August 2016
Thank you to Affirm Press for sending me a reading copy in exchange for an honest review!