Strangers at the Feast
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 else, family. Strangers at the Feast will leave readers haunted and deeply affected.
Jennifer Vanderbes: Strangers at the Feast
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Reading Group Guide
They had been happy people, thought Eleanor. When others spoke of what happened to her family, they shook their heads. But the Olsons were so happy! Happy, and peaceful.
When three generations of the Olson family gather on Thanksgiving Day, 2007, the family unexpectedly encounters a day fraught with frustration and fear.
First, Ginny—an unmarried thirty-something academic with a newly adopted Indian daughter—finds that her “vintage” kitchen refuses to comply with the demands of preparing Thanksgiving dinner. The family moves the feast to the estate-like home of Ginny’s brother, Dennis; his wife, Denise; and their three children. Douglas’s recent financial troubles and unwarranted optimism plague Denise as she contemplates divorcing him. Eleanor and Gavin, the matriarch and patriarch of the family, separately and silently reflect on their ever-diminishing place in the lives of their children.
At the same time, two young men see more