Excerpt from Dinner with Edward by Isabel Vincent, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Dinner with Edward

A Story of an Unexpected Friendship

by Isabel Vincent

Dinner with Edward by Isabel Vincent X
Dinner with Edward by Isabel Vincent
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  • First Published:
    May 2016, 224 pages
    Jun 2017, 224 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Rebecca Foster
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Print Excerpt

In fact, having spent most of my professional life reporting from the developing world, I loved the chaos of New York. The city is its own third world country, with its snarling traffic, its overflowing garbage cans, its corrupt politicians, and its rats that scurry across darkened streets and subway tracks. On muggy summer days, I kept the windows open in our apartment to welcome the clamor of the traffic and construction.

"You're crazy," said Melissa, my colleague and new friend at the Post. A native New Yorker, she always longed for peace and quiet.

Those first months in the city, though, I was clearly out of my depth. One day I stood waiting for the #6 train at rush hour. I was in midtown and hurrying to pick up Hannah uptown. The subway platform was crowded three deep, and the approaching train was packed. I turned to a well-dressed and frail elderly woman standing next to me. "Wow, I really don't think we're going to get on this train," I said, surveying the crowds.

She gave me a look that I can only describe as a mixture of pity and contempt. "Where are you from?" she asked.

"Canada," I said, sheepishly.

"You're definitely not getting on this train," she said with a smile. Then I watched as this refined creature clutched her buttery leather handbag, and gently but purposefully nudged herself into the crowded train. She never had to push to squeeze into the packed subway car. There was an elegance and grace in the way she inserted herself into the train just before the conductor slammed shut the doors.

I waited for the next train. It was also crowded, but in that split second as the doors burst open, I became a New Yorker. Without any fanfare, with no "excuse me" or "so sorry," I joined the crowd and slipped onto the train.

My husband refused to adapt, and a week didn't pass that I wasn't greeted with a time limit on our stay in what to him was the worst place on earth. "One more year, and that's it," he would say. But it was more than our move to New York that was threatening our marriage. We had long carried our emotional baggage over two continents. We were constantly in motion, packing and unpacking boxes, arranging furniture at the different houses we owned, filling out long government forms seeking visas to travel to places as diverse as Kosovo and Brazil. All of this prevented us from dealing with our fraying relationship. When the bitterness bubbled to the surface, when the tension increased, we craved new vistas. And so after unsuccessfully settling in a cramped apartment on the Upper East Side, we decided to try another part of the city, both of us still convinced that real estate would save our faltering marriage.

Roosevelt Island had an affordable parking garage, even though it was dilapidated, with a leaking roof and barely functioning elevator. And the nearly two-mile-long island seemed to be a pleasant retreat from the chaos of Manhattan, yet easily accessible by tram and subway to midtown. In the spring, the promenade facing Manhattan's East Side is crowded with parents pushing babies in strollers, joggers, and couples holding hands. On summer nights, the smell of grilled beef lingers in the heavy air as residents gather at the barbecue pits that line the northern end of the island. There is a riverside café, which affords spectacular views of the United Nations, and tugboats chugging back and forth under the Queensboro Bridge.

And so a few months after I ate dinner with Valerie in the Upper East Side restaurant on Christmas Eve, I found myself living just blocks from Edward. Our meals gradually became weekly events. I knew he looked forward to them as much as I did. He spent hours writing out recipes for me and giving me rather frank opinions about how I was leading my life. He was still mourning his beloved Paula and I was starting to see just how unhappy I was in my marriage.

Excerpted from Dinner with Edward by Isabel Vincent. Copyright © 2016 by Isabel Vincent. Excerpted by permission of Algonquin Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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