Leah Greenblatt
July 28, 2010 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Strangers at the Feast

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Jennifer Vanderbes
publisher
Scribner
genre
Fiction

We gave it a B

Jennifer Vanderbes, the author of 2003’s acclaimed Easter Island anchors her second novel in a more prosaic setting — the green-lawned commuter exurbs of New York City — but its gradually ratcheted domestic drama reaches well beyond the Cheever-country milieu of adultery and cocktail-clink ennui. Told over the course of a single Thanksgiving Day family gathering in 2007, Strangers of the Feast traces the disparate paths and secret struggles of its central clan — Vietnam-vet father, fraught-housewife mother, and their conflicted adult offspring — while working inexorably toward a violent, heavily foreshadowed climax. Though Vanderbes is a gifted writer, her plot machinations and excessively self-sabotaging characters ultimately sour the Feast. B

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