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



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I received this book through First Reads.

I was very intrigued by the concept of this book. A glimpse into some classic literature and the chance to revel with literary party-throwers and goers for 300 pages - who wouldn't like that? The idea was satisfying. The book was somewhat less so. For me, anyway.

A Curious Invitation covers forty parties and the descriptions of all of them share the same format. They are all broken down into: The Invitation, The Host, The Venue, The Guest List, The Dress Code, The Food and Drink, The Conversation, The Entertainment, The Outcome, and The Legacy. Despite not being in love with the work as a whole, I thought this was a very good concept in order to have a common thread between the parties. However, the sections of "The Outcome," as I would find, contain huge spoilers for the works in which the parties take place. If you haven't read the book, as I hadn't with a great many of those featured, then you have the book spoiled for you with no warning. I was quite unhappy with this. Fortunately, I learned this trend so I could skip over this section for a few parties as to not have to angrily strike books off of my "to be read" list.

The main issue that I had with this book, though, was that the genres were so diverse that, even though the format tried to overcome this, there wasn't a strong enough connection between the parties. You would find yourself jumping from a ancient Grecian party to one thrown in the late nineteenth century. While I realize this isn't the author's fault (these are very different parties thrown in very different times), I think that a little transition could have gone a long way. Field did a great job in the first two sections transitioning Trimalchio into Gatsby, but there was no further effort after this. Maybe if they were arranged by time period it would have been a little easier to digest.

I would still recommend this book to lovers of the classics. Maybe they would be more willing to overlook the hiccups that kept me from getting into the book. ( )
  abookolive | Feb 3, 2014 |
Eclectic look at the depiction of parties, soirees, banquets and balls across the whole history of literature, examining every dress code, menu, guest list and conversation. Possibly the first book to compare Joyce's Finnegan's Wake with Jackie Collins's Hollywood Wives (!)Has persuaded me to finally get around to certain books...

Here's a list of all 40 of the novels:


( )
  Dickon.Edwards | Jun 30, 2013 |
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A humorous and informative guide features forty of the greatest fictional festivities in literature through the eyes of the world's greatest writers, including discussions of such works as "The Great Gatsby" and "Steppenwolf."

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