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Dinner with Lisa [Paperback]

R.L. Prendergast
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 19.95
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Book Description

Nov. 1 2011

In the disastrous economic times of the 1930s, Joseph Gaston, a young widower with four children, arrives in the small town of Philibuster seeking security for his family. Instead, he faces barriers everywhere. He does his best despite great adversity, but the strain of feeding and protecting his family whittles away his strength. Finally, destitution forces him to consider giving up his children in order to save them. Enraged by his situation, he attempts one last desperate act—on the night he learns about the mysterious Lisa.

Historically authentic, heart wrenching and humorous, Dinner with Lisa incorporates the crucial issues of the depression: poverty, joblessness, drought and racism. In the midst of love and loyalty, trickery and despair, the ultimate message of the novel is one of hope and the courage to survive even the worst odds.

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Product Description

About the Author

R. L. (Rod) Prendergast was the entrepreneurial kid you saw on your neighbourhood street selling lemonade on a hot summer's day. Recognizing young Rod's preoccupation with money, his mother bribed him to read with an offer of 25 cents per book-and instilled in him a lifelong love of reading. Although he continued down the path of industry-he started and sold his first business before completing his Bachelor of Commerce-he continued to read voraciously. After a number of years working in sales, marketing and management for several companies he spent a year's sabbatical surfing and reading in New Zealand and, free of business pressures, he began to write. Those first words became the backbone of The Impact of a Single Event-which was long listed for the Independent Publishers Book Award for literary fiction, and which became a national bestseller in Canada. Spurred on by the success of his first novel, he took another sabbatical and wrote Dinner with Lisa. He is currently working on his next book.

Customer Reviews

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5.0 out of 5 stars Great storytelling Nov. 18 2012
Met the author at the local Chapter store and purchased the autographed book from him.
Quite enjoyed reading Dinner with Lisa and the story in the book. It is painted with lots of dark colors but one can't help but feel that there is something more to come. And after all the starvation, poverty, natural disasters, corruption, death, etc., there might just be...
Great read!
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4.0 out of 5 stars a great Canadian novel April 5 2012
By Laura Fabiani TOP 500 REVIEWER
Joseph Gaston is a widower with four children living during the hard years of the Great Depression. He leaves Ontario to travel westward toward the prairies to join his brother and in search of a better life for his family. One thing after another goes wrong for Joseph who struggles to feed and keep his family together. The local mayor is a selfish, greedy man and he dislikes Joseph who is a moral man standing up for what is right.

Prendergast evokes this desperate era well through not only Joseph's life but that of the townsfolk. However, although it was a time of poverty, racism and despair, this book was not depressing. Joseph lives on hope and hard work and we live it with him. His four children are a big part of the story and, as a mother, I liked reading about their antics at a time when kids found innovative ways to entertain themselves and also help the family survive. We also get a feel for the times when the townsfolk got together at Hoogaboom's, the local convenient store, to listen to the the news and episodes of The Shadow on the radio.

I enjoyed how Prendergast infused small scenes of humour in the story, showing that despite hard times, humour helps to makes life bearable. Joseph was a great character, a father who loved his family and used everything he had, generosity and ingenuity to help his family survive. I was rooting for him throughout the whole story. Beth was a compelling character and I wish her character had been more fleshed out and some of the backstory throughout the novel limited. The plot held twists and turns, and I never knew how it was all going to end for Joseph and his family. The ending held promise.

This was a great Canadian novel, and I learned more about the history of my country. It is a hopeful but sobering story that will stay with me long after I've read it.

Note: This book contains some religious expletives.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous March 25 2012
I don't really think that it comes as a surprise to most people that I love Historical Fiction. It's something I say often and I usually jump at the chance to read books in that area. I have been very limited in the time periods of historical fiction that I usually read, so I was very happy to receive the opportunity to read Dinner with Lisa by R.L. Prendergast.

Dinner with Lisa takes place in Canada in the midst of the Great Depression. It's a story about family, love, life and above all hope in the face of overwhelming adversity. The book center's around Joseph, a widowed father of four, and his family as they move to Alberta to make a new life for themselves. As you can imagine, things do not turn out as they had initially planned, but through all of the strife and adversity they manage to stick together.

The book not only delves into Joseph's family life, but it also paints a very vivid portrayal of life in Canada during the 1930's. We witness racial tensions that we really don't think about when it comes to living in Canada. Watching Joseph go through some of the things that he experiences, even at the hands of his own family, is just heartbreaking.

Another high point for Dinner with Lisa is the writing style. R.L. Prendergast manages to be wonderfully descriptive in his narrative. You get a real sense of both what life was like as well as a great feel and understanding of the what the characters are going through. I always say that a good novel makes you feel that you are watching the events unfold right before you, almost like a movie. R.L. Prendergast manages to achieve this with stunning accuracy and detail.

If you haven't added Dinner with Lisa to your reading list, you really need to immediately.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Read! Dec 19 2011
By Louise Jolly TOP 50 REVIEWER
My Review:

Joseph Gaston and his four children are seated on two seats of the train rushing through Ontario toward its destination of Philibuster, Alberta. Joseph is a widower and nearly 40-years-old. His children: Clare, 6-months; Nolan 11; Cole 7; and Sarah 4 are the light of his life. Poor little Sarah had succumbed to vomiting due to motion sickness and thus sat alone holding a bowl in her wee lap. Joseph knew that if his wife, Helen, were still alive, she would know how to help Sarah immediately. Joseph and his family are heading west toward a new life filled with hope and prosperity.

The train was grinding to a halt in Philibuster, a small town to stay with Joseph's brother, Henri, and his sister-in-law, Tilda. It's the 1930's and the country is in the grip of the Great Depression but hope abounds for Joseph and his family, or so he thinks. Joseph is filled with optimisim about his new job until he finds out the job no longer exists. What is he going to do now with four children to feed and no income? He begins to worry and the burden and sense of responsibility he feels towards his family is almost crushing, but with the help of his brother Henri, Joseph may be able to survive but not before enduring more problems than one man deserves.

The character development is magnificent in this novel as are the descriptions of the town, its people and surroundings. I felt as though I'd been pulled into the book and could almost walk alongside Joseph seeing the sights and smelling the odours of the town around him. Joseph never lost his sense of belonging and he always had hope. He was forced to fight many battles one which included his sister-in-law wanting to take his children for her own feeling that she could do a much better job of raising them.
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