Beth, Sarah and Marie have known each other since school. Now they are adults, juggling careers, marriages and children, they have to make an effort to keep in touch. Each month they take turns to host a dinner party. They have settled into a routine when one night, Beth's husband, Chris, unexpectedly invites an extra guest, Simon, a new friend of Chris' who has just split up with his wife, Candice. The young, attractive, Simon is an emotional wreck but is nevertheless seen as a threat by Sarah and Marie's husbands. Simon's presence means more than just having to set an extra place at the table and make six steaks stretch to feed seven people - it causes a dramatic shake-up in the dynamics of the group.
Dinner Party is described on the cover as a "laugh out loud romantic comedy", which didn't strike me as a very apt description. That's not to say it's an enjoyable read, just that compared with Tracy Bloom's earlier novels, like I Will Marry George Clooney By Christmas and No-one Has Sex on Christmas Day, it's light on for comedic moments. In fact, at some points I found it a bit depressing. Male entitlement escalating into violence just isn't great comedy fodder in the age of #MeToo.
The chapters are written from the perspective of a different character each time, taking turns like the parties they host, which works well. In between, there are snippets of an interview they did with a journalist, which hints at the disaster to come. Beth is a typical contemporary romance heroine- smart, funny, a bit frumpy and tired of being referred to as "cuddly". Sarah's perspective was more refreshing- she's a woman who seems to have everything, so doesn't feel like she has a right to complain that she is unhappy.
The book does have some funny moments, and ultimately builds to a satisfyingly romantic conclusion. Dinner Party is a quick read that tells a realistic story about love in the modern world. It will probably appeal to fans of Marian Keyes.
Disclaimer: I was given a complimentary copy of this book by Bookouture, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.