This is the story of Roberta in her twenties as she attends college, survives a number of challenging and traumatic situations, and struggles to find her place in life. It also tells the story of Roberta in her thirties, working a job that doesn’t challenge her but does introduce her to her best friend Stevie and a number of men that do NOT deserve her attention, and gives her space to explore her love of cooking. The throughline of her life and her decades has always been food, so it feels right for her to start a Supper Club for women to take up space and let themselves be free.
I had the hardest time writing a description of this book because it’s about one thing but it’s really about something else. Let me explain: On a base level, Supper Club is about a woman’s life from her twenties through to her thirties. Roberta goes to college, dates some shitty men, meets her best friend/ soulmate, finds something gorgeously feminist to pour her passions into, and explores her love of cooking in the process. However, on a completely subconscious level, this book is so much more and that additional depth is what made this book so remarkable.
The depth comes from two things. The first is Roberta’s Supper Club, which is a meeting of women where the female is encouraged to take up space. They’re encouraged to embrace their appetite, eat to their heart’s content and until their physical bodies take up space. They dress eccentrically, they connect on a higher level (usually through some kind of illegal substance, which is entertaining), and they do whatever the fuck they want, and that is a beautiful, inspiring concept. On top of that, the idea came from Roberta, who lives her life in a significantly less empowered way. She dates men that aren’t good enough for her and she lets them treat her poorly. The author effortlessly illustrates the long-standing effects of sexual assault and abandonment and she underlines the very real effects of toxic relationships on a young woman; yet, she leaves us with hope for Roberta and many, many real women who have similar backgrounds, by giving us this Supper Club.
The second thing that makes this book so special is the sheer talent of the author. The plot of a young woman with an absent father and a traumatic sexual assault in her past paired with a bacchanalian group of women isn’t the first of it’s kind. Both have been written about individually many, many times. But Lara Williams has so much talent and she breathes new life into tired concepts. Her writing is beautiful and special—I underlined more in this book than I have in most books I’ve ever read. The themes of feminism, the agency of women’s bodies, and the idea that a person can have many periods of growth throughout a life resonated with me very strongly and I really took to heart some of the ideas William plants throughout this book.
I think I could keep talking about this book for days, so I’ll wrap it up here. Overall? William’s writing is so special and this book will make you feel angry for all women who have not had agency over their bodies, it will make you feel empowered to pursue your passions and value your own worth, and it might make you very hungry.
PUBLICATION DETAILS: G.P. Putnam's Sons; July 9, 2019; 304 pp; 978-0525539582. Fiction -> Food Lit. Feminist