Dinner with the Schnabels by Toni Jordan
‘Dearly beloved, Gloria began. Men are imperfect beings…’ Every now and then you feel the need for a novel that is, quite simply, kind. A novel that will make you laugh and that is also clever. A novel that makes you feel like you’re standing on the same ground as the author, but that also feels like you’re reading something new and delightful. We all know this feeling; we sense it when we read the likes of Liane Moriarty, Nick Hornby or Monica McInerney. Well, add beloved Melbourne-based author Toni Jordan to the list because she has created such a sweet treat in her latest novel, Dinner with the Schnabels.
Told over one action-filled week, in a post-Covid world, this delicious story about family will be Jordan’s most-loved novel yet. You will feel for Simon Larson from the opening pages. Things have not gone well for him lately. He adores his wife, Tansy, and their children, but since his business failed and he lost the family home, depression has overwhelmed him. His in- laws, the Schnabels seem to be everywhere, and Gloria, his mother-in-law, is exhibiting increasingly alarming behaviour.
Like a conductor of the finest order, Jordan imbues this suburban romp with great wit and compassion. I am delighted to hear that this novel is the first of many episodes about the Larson family. I am not sure which member is getting the Jordan treatment next, but I look forward to reading it. (Especially as I have now decided to base my own later years on Gloria Schnabel.)
I find stories that focus on dysfunctional-yet-loving family groups are such a relief to read, especially when the narrative leans politically to the left. Dinner with the Schnabels just makes my life feel easier –it makes me feel seen.