BookPage Nonfiction Top Pick, June 2016
When Isabel Vincent’s friend suggested that she have dinner with her recently widowed, 93-year-old father, Vincent was in need of a lift. She had just moved to New York City to take a job as an investigative reporter with the New York Post, and her marriage was falling apart.
“I don’t know if the temptation of a good meal did it for me, or if I was just so lonely that even the prospect of spending time with a depressed nonagenarian seemed appealing,” she writes, adding, “Whatever it was, I could never have imagined that meeting Edward would change my life.”
She chronicles their time together in the touching Dinner with Edward: A Story of an Unexpected Friendship, in which she not only rediscovers herself, but also realizes that this lonely geriatric is a charming poet at heart, full of wisdom about love and marriage.
A refined, self-taught intellectual and old-fashioned gentleman, Edward can also cook—as in really cook. Vincent begins each chapter with a menu, full of dishes like herb-roasted chicken in a paper bag (one of Edward’s many specialties), pan-fried potatoes with gruyère and his signature dessert, apple and pear galette (the secret to which is using crushed ice and lard, he insists). Two warnings: Don’t read this book on an empty stomach because the mouth-watering food descriptions will drive you mad, and don’t expect to find recipes.
As this unexpected friendship deepens, Edward becomes Vincent’s much-needed “fairy godfather,” cheerleader, sounding board and shoulder to cry on. He advises her to wear lots of lipstick and takes her to Saks to buy a pricey dress. He tells wonderful tales of his past, while Vincent confides her marriage woes, and later, after her divorce, shares stories of her new beaus.
Soon Vincent realizes, “Joy, happiness—it snuck up on me every time I saw Edward.” Readers will savor their every encounter and turn each page wishing they could have been there.