Lead Review

  • Book: Dinner with Edward
  • Location: Manhattan, Roosevelt Island
  • Author: Isabel Vincent

Review Author: Tina Hartas

Location

Content

It’s lovely, isn’t it, when an unexpected book crosses your path and it turns out to be a short but delicious mix of friendship, serendipity, New York and food and still so much more. And a real pleasure to read.

Isabel is in the final throes of her marriage and she and her husband and daughter locate to Roosevelt Island. I had no idea the island existed. It is one of New York City’s best-kept secrets (apparently). The narrow, two-mile island between Manhattan and Queens used to house a notorious mental health asylum and a smallpox hospital, but now it’s a peaceful getaway from hectic city life. It has an utterly fascinating history. The little family moves into The Octagon, which is a far cry from its original function of asylum – now it has has all the trappings of modern living and marble tops but for the author it is not a happy place. The history seeps in for Isabel and her marriage is taking its toll (her husband doesn’t come well out of the narrative particularly well, I wonder if he has read the book?).

Nearby lives 93 year old Edward, recently widowed and because of the author’s friendship with one of his daughters, she agrees to pop in every so often. There is an immediate chemistry between the two and soon they are chewing the cud of life and friendship, over intricately prepared dinners which Edward orchestrates. At the beginning of each chapter there is a wonderful menu to tempt and titillate.

“He knew that paradise was not a place, but the people in your life”

Isabel may be going through the mill with her marriage but Edward is the uplifting radiator in her life. The warmth and upbeat storytelling will permeate the saddest heart. It is a story of an ordinary extraordinary person who came into Isabel’s life at a time when she needed his friendship; for him she was companionship, giving him a weekly focus (and she was possibly a bit of a project for him, helping her to work on her shattered confidence and sartorial style).

The secret is treating family like guests and guests like family”.

It is wonderful that someone so ordinary yet with so much heart is immortalised both in the actual memories of his daughters and through words penned in this poignant memoir. Charming.

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