by Gloria Goldreich

January 2006
ISBN: 0-7783-2227-0
Reviewer Graphic Button Mira Books

Six women are meeting for their first book club discussion of the year. Although they come from different backgrounds, their addictive love of books links them together. This night they are tackling ANNA KARENINA. In between good food and lively discussion of the classic novel, Cynthia, the member who seems "to have it all", drops a bombshell of an announcement. She has split with her husband and refuses to give any details.

This disconcerting and unexpected news causes the other members to look at their lives and this, in turn, influences their upcoming book club picks and discussions. The author takes the reader through a year with the six women and gradually reveals the everyday trials and tragedies with which each of them must deal. The women of the book club support each other without being intrusive. If the protagonist of their novels had had such a support system, Western literature would not be as rich and varied. There is a sense of catharsis when we see we can overcome what others have turned into tragedy.

Dinner With Anna Karenina falls more into the women's fiction category than romance. Love lost and betrayed are examined more fully than finding true love, though that is included. The female characters are all well fleshed out and truly empathetic. Although the device of a book club has been used in several recent novels, Ms. Goldreich is very successful in using this technique to give us not only insight into the characters, but also explores how great literature inspires and affects us on many levels. There is a somewhat melancholy undertone to the storyline, but it becomes one of hope by the denouement.

Ms. Goldreich is a talented storyteller and I look forward to her future novels.

Reviewed in December 2005 by Roberta.

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