Friday, August 2, 2013

A Curious Invitation: The Forty Greatest Parties in Literature, by Suzette Field

A Curious Invitation:
The Forty Greatest Parties in Literature
Author: Suzette Field
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: October 15, 2013
At first I was skeptical about a book about literary parties. I mean, what was the point? Still, I was--as the title suggested--curious. But it didn't take long for me to be convinced. By mid-way through the introduction, Suzette Field had me intrigued by the literary party as a means by which an author groups characters together, has them reveal things to each other, has them hide things from each other, has them on their very best and very worst behaviour, and sets the stage for dramatic outcomes. Plus, as she points out, reading about the party highlights of forty famous novels would, at the very least, provide the reader with things to talk about to make them sound parties of course.

I was particularly fascinated and delighted by which forty parties she chose to include. Some seem like obvious choices--Jay Gatsby's Saturday Night Parties or Finnegan's Wake, for instance--while others are more unexpected, such as references to The Bible or Satyricon. And quite a few were simply delightful inclusions: Queen Alice's Feast from Through the Looking Glass, A Pooh Party from Winnie-the-Pooh, The Flying Party from Life, the Universe and Everything, Bilbo Baggins' Eleventy-First Birthday from The Lord of the Rings and the high school prom from Carrie, to name but a few. For each party she describes the host, the guests, the setting, the food, the conversation and, of course, the legacy. There are quite a few spoilers though so you should proceed with caution.

Another great thing that the author does (at least in the advanced review copy) is include her email address so you can write to her and make a case for your personal favourite parties in literature so she can consider them for future editions of the book. I'm going to write to her about the merits of Sir Nicholas' Deathday Party from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, the Turkey Curry Buffet from Bridget Jones' Diary, and Bilbo Baggins' Unexpected Party from The Hobbit ("Carefully carefully with the plates!").

What about you? What are your favourite parties in literature? I'd love to hear about them!
Disclaimer: I received a digital galley of this book free from Edelweiss (Above the Tree Line). I was asked to write an honest review, though not necessarily a favourable one. The opinions expressed are strictly my own.

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