Thursday, March 29, 2012

Dinner with Lisa by R. L. Prendergast

In the disastrous economic times of the 1930s, Joseph Gaston, a young widower with four children, arrives in the small town of Philibuster seeking security for his family. Instead, he faces barriers everywhere. He does his best despite great adversity, but the strain of feeding and protecting his family whittles away his strength. Finally, destitution forces him to consider giving up his children in order to save them. Enraged by his situation, he attempts one last desperate act—on the night he learns about the mysterious Lisa.

Heart wrenching, humorous and historically authentic, Dinner with Lisa incorporates the crucial issues of the depression: poverty, unemployment, drought and racism. In the midst of love and loyalty, trickery and despair, the ultimate message of the novel is one of hope and the courage to survive even the worst odds.


I was actually really surprised by how much I enjoyed reading Dinner with Lisa - before starting it I wasn't sure if I would even like it! I knew how hard the Depression was in the U.S., but I never knew that people in other countries were having a depression too. It was very enlightening to read about it.

The story is full of neat facts about things that happened, that are woven into the story seemlessly. I learned several new things about 1930's Canada. During the course of the story there is a "black blizzard" that happens in Philibuster. A black blizzard is a natural phenomenon caused by severe drought along with decades of farming without crop rotation or other techniques to prevent wind erosion. (Click HERE to watch a fascinating video about black blizzards).

Joseph and his children were such likeable characters. All the kids had me laughing.  The two boys would do such crazy things that I kept hoping they wouldn't get hurt. Joseph's brother, Henri (a.k.a. The Great Henri), was a bit of a confusing character at first - I wasn't sure whether I was going to like him or not. However, not far into the story I couldn't help liking him - his wife on the other hand was a completely different story!

Tilda, Henri's wife, at first I liked her a lot, but throughout the story I began to like her less and less. She has never been able to have children of her own and jumps at the chance to care for Joseph's children while he looks for work or is working. However, soon she begins to devise a plan in which she will be able to adopt Joseph's two daughters. Tilda thinks that if she can make them love her more than Joseph, and fill their heads with enough talk about how girls should be raised by women, that she can somehow convince him to give them up. It was so wrong what she was doing, and it made her seem so selfish. I understand why she wanted them and everything, but to try to break-up their family when Joseph was trying to do everything in his power to keep them together was just so wrong!

Winfield Westmoreland, the mayor of Philibuster, was such a heinous man, and I kept waiting for a time when he would get what was coming to him. Though not much is said about his family, it seems to me that he abused them. Winfield had the chief of police and some other higher-up people under his thumb. Anytime he would get angry, he would have one of them make an appointment for him with a prostitute, insuring he maintain his clean image with the public.

There were so many other interesting characters in the book, such as Tom Wah, Mrs. Nye, Raven Mullens, Copper, Beth, and of course Lisa.

This book had quite a few expletives in it, especially religious ones - which is something I don't like at all in books.  I wish the story didn't use Their names in that way!

Many times in the book a word would be spelled differently than I was used to it being spelled, such as two-storey house and mould. I actually never knew that there was a different way to spelling some of these words - so it was great to learn!

Overall, I thought that Dinner with Lisa was a riveting story and one that I found to be very entertaining.

***I received a complimentary copy of this book to review. I was asked to give my honest opinion of the book - which I have done.***

If you found this review helpful, will you please click yes HERE. Thanks!

Book Details:
  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Dekko Publishing (October 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0978454820
  • ISBN-13: 978-0978454821
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.6 inches
  • Available to purchase at Amazon
I also have a giveaway of this book going on until 4/13, to enter it go HERE.


  1. Thanks so much for taking part in the tour. I'm so glad you enjoyed Dinner With Lisa!

  2. Thank yo for the very kind review. I'm glad I could entertain and enlighten.

    Kindest Regards,

    R. L. (Rod) Prendergast

  3. Great review! This sounds like a book I'd enjoy reading.

  4. Thanks for the review! I will be adding this book to my to read list. I grew up in Canada and always loved talking to my Granny about the past so I think I would enjoy this as well.