Review: Dinner at Rose’s by Danielle Hawkins


Title: Dinner at Rose’s

Author: Danielle Hawkins

Published: Arena May 2012

Synopsis: In the wake of an unfortunate best-friend-and-boyfriend-caught-having-sex-in-a-chair incident, Jo Donnelly flees her civilised city life to take up a temporary job at the physiotherapy clinic in her small home town.
Jo is ineptly assisted at work by a receptionist who divides her time between nail care and surfing the internet. Meanwhile, her new flatmate is a joyless couch potato who hogs the TV and is vigilant in her quest to prevent excessive electricity consumption.  Life would seem a bit grim if not for Jo’s eccentric honorary Aunty Rose, who lives up the valley with her pet piglet, four dogs and two sheep. Rose was a wise and infinitely patient friend to both Jo and her bona fide nephew, Matthew, while they were growing up. And when she is hit by illness Jo moves in to look after her, while Matt helps out as much as his farming duties allow. But illness aside, it’s not long before the mischievous Rose is playing cupid…This is an utterly charming, funny, insightful novel of friendship and love. Read an Extract.

Status: Read from May 07 to 09, 2012 — I own a copy {Courtesy Allen & Unwin}

My Thoughts:
With warmth and humour, Danielle Hawkins explores family, friendship and love in rural New Zealand in this delightful debut novel. Dinner At Rose’s fits right in with Allen & Unwin’s current crop of rural lit in the Australian market, despite being set in New Zealand. The author herself was raised on a cattle and sheep farm and now works alongside her husband in their dairy farm while also working as a large animal vet.

In Dinner at Rose’s, the protagonist Jo Donnelly has returned to the small farming community she was raised in to take up a temporary position at the local physiotherapists after discovering an affair between her boyfriend and best friend. While her parents have moved on, Jo’s beloved honorary Aunt Rose and many of her childhood friends remain in the area and Jo easily she slips back into life in Waimanu after years in inner city Melbourne. As Jo juggles dodgy clients with ‘groin strain’, a receptionist who barely remembers to answer the phone, a joyless roommate and her rebellious ‘little sister’ Kim, she realises her crush on Matt, her childhood friend and Rose’s nephew, is resurfacing, though it seems doomed to remain unrequited given his relationship with ‘Farmer Barbie’. When Aunt Rose falls ill, Jo and Matt are determined to care for the woman they cherish in her own home, but as they grow closer, Rose begins to drift further away.

I love the characters of Dinner at Rose’s. Jo is smart, capable and witty. Even though her life has fallen down around her ears she has picked herself back up and is moving on with determination. Rose is just delightful, the type of aunt we all wish we had who is enhanced by her eccentricities and unfailingly supportive. Matt is a genuinely nice guy, steady, loyal and handsome. Their relationships with each other are heart warming and Hawkins beautifully captures the dynamics of a ‘family’ chosen and nurtured.
One of the things I found most entertaining in Dinner at Rose’s is the author’s sense of humour. Rose’s eccentricities are warm and amusing from her penchant for plain speaking to her mollycoddling of her pet pig, Percy. Jo is quick witted with a biting, yet not cruel, sarcastic attitude. The banter between Jo and Matt is funny and their jibes firmly grounds their life long friendship. Several of the minor characters can best be described as quirky, including the environmental nazi roommate and halitosis sufferer, Bob McIntosh. Matt’s mother is clueless and the cause of much unintended hilarity while Kim’s teenage dramatics have you laughing in recognition. Amongst all the laughter though, Hawkins sensitively deals with the more serious events in the novel. Her characters have to face betrayal, illness, stalking, injury and loss but it is these difficulties that enhance the joy of the novel.

Dinner at Rose’s is a charming read that will have you smiling, even through the few tears that escape. I truly enjoyed this contemporary story that blends romance, friendship, tragedy and love with humor and heart.

Available to Purchase

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9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Leeswammes
    May 11, 2012 @ 16:25:54

    Sounds like a good read. I wonder if the book will come to this side of the world, too.



  2. Danielle
    May 11, 2012 @ 17:32:15

    I have been meaning to get properly started on reading this one! I must take it on the train with me, to ensure I get stuck into it 🙂

    Great review!



  3. The Australian Bookshelf
    May 11, 2012 @ 17:36:11

    This sounds like a great read Shelleyrae with really enjoyable characters. I’m kicking myself now that i didn’t get a review copy of this! Ah, well i’ll have to look out for it at the used book store 🙂



    • shelleyrae @ Book'd Out
      May 11, 2012 @ 17:41:43

      Lol Jayne, I couple of times I have seen a review for something at your blog and thought ‘darn, I should have requested that one after all’!



  4. Mari @Bookworm with a View
    May 11, 2012 @ 22:12:51

    This the kind of book I enjoy reading in the warm months. 🙂

    Adding it to my list!



    • shelleyrae @ Book'd Out
      May 14, 2012 @ 12:34:14

      It’s available for international readers in eformat at Amazon Mari – and perhaps Google play as well



  5. maryanne
    Jul 27, 2012 @ 20:18:41

    I generally need a Murder victim before i enjoy a read but this book went from being the fill in book to can’t put it down very quickly. Loved all the charaters and felt part of the group. Thank you i await your next novel.



  6. Trackback: Review: When It All Went to Custard by Danielle Hawkins | book'd out

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