Dinner with Lisa by R.L. PrendergastDinner with Lisa by R.L. Prendergast

Dinner with Lisa

byR.L. Prendergast

Paperback | November 1, 2011

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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.

R. L. Prendergast is the author of the novel, The Impact of a Single Event, which became a bestseller in Canada. His second novel, Dinner with Lisa, won an Independent Publisher’s award for best fiction in Western Canada. The Confessions of Socrates is the author’s third book.
Title:Dinner with LisaFormat:PaperbackDimensions:288 pages, 8.5 × 5.5 × 0.75 inPublished:November 1, 2011Publisher:Dekko PublishingLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0978454820

ISBN - 13:9780978454821

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Rated 4 out of 5 by from Fantastic! Dinner with Lisa by R. L. Prendergast ISBN: 978-0-9784548-2-1 Dekko Publishing Published: November 2011 Trade Paperback, 279 pages I LOVED this book! Of course, that it is written by a Canadian and tells a Canadian story is an added attraction. This historical fiction is set against the backdrop of the Great Depression of the 1930’s. Forty-something widower, Joseph Gaston and his 4 children, one of whom is a six-month-old baby girl, are on the move across the prairies toward a job. These are the “Dirty 30’s” and jobs are scarce, but he has one waiting for him. The family arrives in Philibuster, Alberta where Joseph’s half-brother and wife welcome them. Joseph and his children move into a rooming house and he learns that his promised job has been given to another. How will he support his children? It seems as if life is conspiring against him as he runs up against barriers everywhere he turns. A secure job seems elusive. His growing despair and fear that he may be forced to give up his children eat away at him. There is a very poignant scene where he pawns his wedding band for a paltry $9.50. And, he is on the wrong side of some of the influential townspeople. Just as he is about to commit an unthinkable act, he learns about Lisa. The author made me feel the despair of the times - from the hobos riding the trains to the scorching heat, to the grasshoppers and Black Blizzards that destroyed crops to the animals so desperate for food that they ate gate hinges, pieces of iron, and doorknobs! A family taking turns eating meals, parents doing without food for the sake of their children. Ten- and eleven-year-old children foregoing school to sell newspapers and shine shoes. And the mounting frustration and anger as increasing numbers of people are unable to make ends meet. The characters in the story are very well developed. We really dislike the Mayor and have doubts about the Police Chief. We are charmed by Mrs. Nye and interested by quirky Beth who “smokes and wears slacks like a man.” And where did those names come from – City Engineer, Raven Mullens, Police Chief, Montgomery Quentin, and Mayor Winfield Westmoreland – names straight out of 1930’s Hollywood! My favorite character is Joseph himself, a likeable, decent human being with plenty of fellow feeling and deep love for his family. I like a book that teaches me something and Dinner with Lisa does that. Who knew that there was such prejudice and discrimination against Chinese people in Canada? Who knew that “some two million men and thousands of women illegally rode the trains that crisscrossed the North American continent” because they could no longer afford the basics of staying alive where they were? Mr. Prendergast is also very descriptive in his writing. For example, “the train shuddered as if a chill had run down its spine” or “his tiny moustache, as thin as if it had been penciled in above his lip, was almost inappropriately delicate on a person of such immense stature” (my Dad had a moustache like that). Dinner with Lisa has all the elements of a good story – humor, good guys, bad guys, trickery, deceit, murder, hope, and the enduring human spirit that overcomes seemingly insurmountable obstacles. The one negative aspect of the writing is the use of many religious expletives and swear words used throughout the story.
Date published: 2012-03-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Read! 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. To me, this was a story of one man overcoming great adversity through hope. As long as you have hope, you have a horizon in the distance, you can see the light at the end of the tunnel and that is just where Joseph heads. I read this novel is one sitting, I was glued from beginning to end and would highly recommend it to everyone! Well done.
Date published: 2011-12-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wonderful book. Normally I couldn't be bothered to read a book based in history, but this books held my attention like none other. The characters are well written and given a strong voice. Each character is different than the last, and each story is given its own place within the story. Joseph (the main character) is as believable a person as the one you'd see in the mirror. A good man, with good intentions, he never strays far from his beliefs. While the story seems to take it's time to begin, that is really part of the beauty of it. You don't witness the plot getting out of hand and fizzling before the end. A wonderful work of art, this story has so many truths in it, for the 1930's and even for now - surely one can learn from Dinner with Lisa. A great read by a wonderful author.
Date published: 2011-12-04