Reviewed by Mary Jedlicka Humston
Dinner with Edward: A Story of an Unexpected Friendship has the feel of Tuesdays with Morrie (by author Mitch Albom) combined with a food lover’s quest for great food, making this little book a delightful read.
Isabel Vincent, an investigative reporter for the “New York Post” as well as the author of four books, is asked by her friend, Valerie, to check in on her father, Edward, when her mother, Paula, passes away after sixty-nine years of marriage. Vincent, who lives near Edward in New York, agrees to do this after Valerie departs home to Canada.
What evolves are weekly dinners that create a special bond between the grieving nonagenarian widower and the middle-aged conscientious friend coming to grips with her troubled marriage.
It’s not just about the food, but the food does become a third character in this memoir. Each chapter begins with the menu for that particular week.
Chocolate Soufflé. Grilled Sirloin Steak with Bourguignonne Sauce. Pommes de Terre Sarladaises. Orange Zest Salad. Apple Galette. Fennel Rémoulade over Lettuce. The often-difficult-to-pronounce (for me, at least) dishes are just a smidge of what Edward creates for Vincent.
The narrative will frequently break down the meal by relating step-by-step preparations, but, surprisingly, this doesn’t read like a cook book nor are there actual recipes included in the back of the book.
Like I said earlier, it’s not just about the food. It’s about the dear, close friendship that develops between two lonely people who need each other at this special point in time.
Another reason our “Mary & Me” blog readers will find this book of interest is Edward’s love of writing letters to his wife.
“After she died, Edward began writing her letters, telling her about what he had cooked that day, which of their friends he had bumped into. Shortly after we met, he started to write to Paula about me.” (Page 22)
His letter writing inspired Vincent to do the same with her deceased mother.
“One afternoon, when I was particularly upset, I took Edward’s advice and was startled by the result. When I sat down to write to my mother in a notebook, sadness spilled out of me. And once it was out in the open, I could no longer keep it under wraps.” (Page 67)
This story will touch readers in a variety of ways.