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Book of the Week: The Dinner List – A Menu of Life, Love, Loss, Family and Regrets

By Margaret Manning October 14, 2018 Lifestyle

We’ve all probably been asked, at least once in our lives, to name five people, living or dead, with whom we’d like to have dinner.

Who would we invite? Why would we choose those people? Where would we meet? What would we talk about? How would our five dinner guests get on with one another? These are all intriguing questions addressed by author Rebecca Serle in her latest book, The Dinner List.

A Dinner Where Fantasy and Reality Meet

I think this style of book is called magical realism because it floats between the world of reality and fantasy. It somehow intrigues and envelopes us in an unlikely story that holds a mysterious, magnetic power of truth and possibility.

By the age of 60, we have met some fascinating people. We have loved deeply, or been loved, several times in our lives. There have been relationships and friendships that vaporized in circumstances outside our control. Others have passed the test of time.

We have lost touch with some people whom we would have loved to have known better. Other chance meetings, filled with possibilities, slipped through our fingers.

In our lives, we have also been influenced deeply by people we never met. Some are historical heroes. Others are celebrities we have admired or people who have been woven into our lives for decades. Perhaps a historical or cultural icon would be on our invitee list.

For most of us, however, there are also people with whom we have some unfinished business. Maybe there are unspoken words to be shared over a glass of wine.

Many women in our community have acknowledged that there are people to whom we want to make an apology. Perhaps we want to give or ask for forgiveness that could close a door.

What Did Reviewers Say About the Book?

One reviewer says that this book is “delicious but never indulgent, sweet with just the right amount of bitter, a romance for our times. Bon appetit.”

Another person remarked, “I read The Dinner List in a single day, unable to tear myself away from this unconventional dinner party. Rebecca Serle draws you in with this clever and delightful story and then (when you least expect it) offers up some of the sharpest insights on first loves, friendships and family. This book is completely original and wildly entertaining.”

Who Would You Invite to Dinner?

When Sabrina, the main character in this book, arrives at her own birthday dinner, she finds not only her best friend, but three other important people from her past. The final guest is, not surprisingly, Audrey Hepburn.

As the food is served and the conversation begins, the reason for this unusual combination of people starts to emerge.

Sabrina has her own unique reasons for inviting her best friend Jessica and Robert, her father, but there is more to discover about her other choices – an old lover and a college philosophy professor.

Why Would You Choose Your Dinner Guests?

The story unfolds as Sabrina decides to take advantage of this unlikely combination of dinner guests. She asks herself if, perhaps, they were invited to help her address unresolved issues, make peace where necessary and let things go.

Are they present to help her understand why certain things happened the way they did? Could they help her in some way to be better prepared for the future?

By the end of the book, Sabrina’s questions are answered, as the story weaves a fascinating montage of life, love, family and regrets. Each person gets to share their point of view, and Sabrina is enriched by the magic of their connection to her and to each other.

When you review the list of five people you would invite to your dinner, can you see the reason you might want them to be together for an evening with you?

How Would the Evening Go?

The Dinner List sounds like a fascinating, emotional and beautifully touching book. Don’t we all wish, at some level, that we could get closure with people who are no longer in our life for one reason or another?

One of my favourite things about the idea behind this book was the amount of thought I have put into this list personally, ever since reading about the book.

What five people would I ask to my birthday dinner? What would we talk about, and what would I feel as dessert was served and everyone left me to blow out my birthday candle?

Who are the five people, living or dead, you would invite to dinner? Would you prefer to include people who are close to you, celebrities or heroes from old times? Let’s have some fun with our imaginary birthday dinner guests.

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The Author

Margaret Manning is the founder of Sixty and Me. She is an entrepreneur, author and speaker. Margaret is passionate about building dynamic and engaged communities that improve lives and change perceptions. Margaret can be contacted at

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