*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*
Title: Supper Club
Author: Lara Williams
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Publication Date: July 4, 2019
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Roberta spends her life trying not to take up space. At almost thirty, she is adrift and alienated from life. Stuck in a mindless job and reluctant to pursue her passion for food, she suppresses her appetite and recedes to the corners of rooms. But when she meets Stevie, a spirited and effervescent artist, their intense friendship sparks a change in Roberta, a shift in her desire for more. Together, they invent the Supper Club, a transgressive and joyous collective of women who gather to celebrate, rather than admonish, their hungers. They gather after dark and feast until they are sick; they break into private buildings and leave carnage in their wake; they embrace their changing bodies; they stop apologizing. For these women, each extraordinary yet unfulfilled, the club is a way to explore, discover, and push the boundaries of the space they take up in the world. Yet as the club expands, growing both in size and rebellion, Roberta is forced to reconcile herself to the desire and vulnerabilities of the body–and the past she has worked so hard to repress.
I love finding a great book about female empowerment and women coming into their own strength, power, and beauty. That’s what I thought I’d be getting with Supper Club, however I found it to be more of an exploration of selfishness and gluttony, swinging from one extreme to the next with no real sense of profound self-discovery, forgiveness, understanding, or growth. I wanted to like it and to be able to sing it’s praises, because it draws attention to some incredibly important themes surrounding sexual assault, male privilege, abusive relationships, and broken families.
I really feel like this book had the potential to be an open doorway to discussions around loss of female autonomy or coping with and overcoming sexual trauma. The supper clubs, as advertised in the description, were a way for this group of women to reclaim their bodies and their space, unabashedly and without shame. Instead, I felt as though it was an unresolved movement through abuse and loss of control with no real sense of healing or growth. There was an opportunity to really explore the women in this supper club, to get to know them and watch them rise from the ashes to create something beautiful and powerful. Unfortunately, that opportunities was lost to a continual return to the terrible relationships and traumatic relationships that Roberta struggles through. There was more of a focus on the awful men and the gross way they treat her than there was on how she really copes and learns to heal.
I found myself leaving this book behind feeling unsatisfied and without hope. It’s an important part of literature to be able to read about the whole of the human experience, especially the difficult topics. However, without a real glimmer of hope or uptick in tone as the book concluded, I really just felt morose and disappointed. I’d hoped that the supper clubs these women held would be a place of empowerment and reconciliation, but they were really just a mess of over-eating, excessive drug and alcohol use, and were a point of contention between female friends. Instead of providing uplifting strength and support, they ended up doing more harm than good.
Alas, this is one for me to donate.