It is Dina's thirty-sixth birthday. Anticipating a memorable celebration of dinner at an upscale restaurant followed later that evening with what she coins "baby night," Dina's expectations suddenly fall flat when her husband Mark calmly and unemotionally announces that he's calling it quits after "fifteen years of a pretty damn good marriage." Trying to include an encouraging tone to the awkward moment, Mark adds, "at least we're doing this before we had kids." Mark reasons that it makes perfect sense to divorce since he's found his soul mate. As Dina is about to enter a new yet abrupt phase in her life, she has no idea how it will unfold, especially when she starts a home catering business. Laced with comedy amid turmoil, White's latest novel is full of surprises, including a window into the author's brief stint as a party planner. The pacing is swift, and the characters are engaging from the start. Now rocked by circumstance, can the insecure Dina build a new future?
News at Seven
On the evening of my thirty-sixth birthday, my husband, Mark, announced our marriage was over. We were squeezed into a booth only an anorexic could love at Winners Circle, an upscale restaurant of our Boca Raton country club, Boca Forest, when Mark delivered his pink slip version of a break-up notice.
"Dina," he said, "we’ve had almost fifteen years of a pretty damn good marriage, but you know as well as I that we were never truly meant to be together."
I knew no such thing, but at least he didn’t say that we’d never been soul mates. As two of the many transplanted Manhattanites now living in Boca Raton, Mark and I shied away from the terms du jour we mocked throughout our marriage – such as "soul mates" and most currently, "baby night," which actually was supposed to be my birthday present. Then, in an assuaging tone he added, "at least we’re doing this before we had kids."
Although Mark meant it as a good thing, whatever composure I was clinging to took a nosedive and I lost it. It’s not that I gave up my self-control or calm; I mean I literally lost most of the poached oyster appetizer I’d just ingested.
Catching the bulk of it in an oversized black napkin that Winners Circle courteously provides to prevent renegade white-napkin lint from sticking to the basic black many women still wore, a stray, slimy clump remained lodged in my throat. My last thought before almost passing out was if someone doesn’t do a Heimlich on me in the next thirty seconds, my husband’s going to be a widower and won’t even have to pay alimony. In a last-ditch effort I coughed up the offending mollusk and added it to the mess in the napkin, averting a stain on my consignment shop St. John black knit outfit.
"Madam is fine?" said a nearby server with a slight unidentifiable foreign accent, possibly from south Jersey.
"Yes, my wife is fine," said Mark, using that term without the ex in front of it for perhaps the last time.
The waiter bowed his head and retreated, hands held in the popular Praying Mantis fashion, until reaching his corner where he visually connected with Leo, our pit bull of a maître d’, nodding that the crisis had passed.
"Why?" I said, croaking it out.
"I’ve met someone. She’s my soul mate."