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Supper Club

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A sharply intelligent and intimate debut novel about a secret society of hungry young women who meet after dark and feast to reclaim their appetites--and their physical spaces--that posits the question: if you feed a starving woman, what will she grow into?

Roberta spends her life trying not to take up space. At almost thirty, she is adrift and alienated from life. Stuck in a mindless job and reluctant to pursue her passion for food, she suppresses her appetite and recedes to the corners of rooms. But when she meets Stevie, a spirited and effervescent artist, their intense friendship sparks a change in Roberta, a shift in her desire for more. Together, they invent the Supper Club, a transgressive and joyous collective of women who gather to celebrate, rather than admonish, their hungers. They gather after dark and feast until they are sick; they break into private buildings and leave carnage in their wake; they embrace their changing bodies; they stop apologizing. For these women, each extraordinary yet unfulfilled, the club is a way to explore, discover, and push the boundaries of the space they take up in the world. Yet as the club expands, growing both in size and rebellion, Roberta is forced to reconcile herself to the desire and vulnerabilities of the body--and the past she has worked so hard to repress. Devastatingly perceptive and savagely funny, Supper Club is an essential coming-of-age story for our times.

304 pages, Paperback

First published July 4, 2019

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Lara Williams

3 books181 followers

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 992 reviews
Profile Image for Kitty.
1 review12 followers
May 11, 2020
'He's got a real problem with Supper Club. Like, he said we think we're doing something really profound, but actually, we're doing something which is at best basic, and at worst, just really fucking bourgeoise and gross.'

Page 98 of the UK paperback edition gives it all away.

I really wanted to like this book based on the premise, but sadly the actual Supper Clubs take up only 15% of the whole narrative. The (in theory) brilliant idea of a secret society that embraces female hedonism is cast aside in favour of a more conventional narrative about a woman grappling with the aftermath of rape and the overall shitty-ness of cis-men. It would have been so much more interesting to focus on the individual women and their personal development inside this group of other women, instead, the main character (Roberta) links up with a baffling amount of side-characters that are usually just there to deliver one thought or idea and then just fuck off again. There is an attempt at making the main character multi-dimensional, but it falls short, basically oscillating between 'I'm baby' and 'Eating a lot has made me strong’.

This story is a marketing department's wet dream: Wanting to be both part Conversations with Friends and part My Year of Rest and Relaxation. It is neither. The book might have benefitted from being published as a novella, with large chunks of the college-experience and cooking tips/explanations-insertions cut.

Another issue is queer representation in this book: There is a large number of women that date women in the book (great, lovely, wonderful) but (to me, a queer person) it always feels tokenising. The issue of misgendering the only trans character (via pronouns in her introduction that are then *gasp* changed to reveal her trans-ness) is just lazy and unimaginative, if not damaging.

Speaking of unimaginative: this is one of those books where you can watch the author bumble through the text, having been briefly enamoured with a specific word that they totally have to use at least twice over the next 5 pages. ('Gung-ho', 'parochial', etc).

I seldom force myself to finish a book, but I did with Supper Club, hoping that maybe the end would offer an interesting or somehow sparkling conclusion. Alas, what I got was exactly in line with my reading experience: a forced food fight.

Also, literally no character in this book is able to hold, pour or carry a wine glass without spilling some of it. Maybe they should opt for Sippy Cups next time.
Profile Image for Blair.
1,726 reviews4,079 followers
June 26, 2019
(4.5) There's something in the water in 2019. It's been a bumper year for books by and about young women, books that talk about contemporary life in smart, fresh, subversive ways while remaining relatable. These books embrace feminism without taking the tedious dystopia route. They explore 'coming of age' without telling the types of stories that have been written a million times. They're all very different, but I feel inclined to group them together: Bunny, The New Me, Everything You Ever Wanted, Fake Like Me, The Paper Wasp, The Furies, Necessary People, and now Supper Club, the first novel by Lara Williams. I will admit that Williams' debut collection of short stories, Treats, didn't grab me, but this is a different animal altogether – it worked for me on every level.

In Supper Club, Roberta and her best friend/housemate Stevie start... well, a supper club. It's a way for Roberta to indulge her love of cooking; it's a series of wild parties; it's a living art project. Members can give their appetites free rein, whether those appetites pertain to food, drink, drugs, sex, dancing, art, or whatever. This is a space where women are invited to be unapologetically greedy and unselfconscious. But Supper Club itself is best described as a good hook to hang the whole thing on. It's a beguiling idea, and probably the first thing you'd mention if you were describing the book to someone else; really, though, this story is about Roberta's life. And Roberta, happily, is brilliantly realised.

Reading Supper Club was sometimes an eerie experience. I've hoped, for a long time, that a book would come along and enumerate my specifically awful experience of university – I thought Saltwater might be this book, and it wasn't – and now, here at last, unexpectedly, here it is. And set in the city I studied in, no less. In the present day, Roberta is in her late twenties, but her experiences of ten years earlier are the foundation of her character (and therefore the whole story). From her student days to her career to the minutiae of the way she thinks and feels about herself, observing Roberta was like peering through a portal at an only-slightly-different version of myself in some alternate universe. I must, therefore, say that some of my love for the novel was about seeing myself in this character and, naturally, feeling fiercely attached to her from the start.

Another similarity between the books I mentioned earlier: the reviews, and even the official blurbs, rarely do them any justice whatsoever. Across different editions, Supper Club has been compared to Normal People, Fleabag and 'Cat Person', none of which make much sense to me. It got a starred review from Publishers Weekly, but the write-up they gave it is terrible – not even accurate, and misses everything that's engaging about the story. If we're doing comparisons, here are mine: it's the younger and slightly softer cousin of Emma Jane Unsworth's Animals, with its two close-knit friends whose lives end up heading in different directions; and like Stephanie Danler's similarly food-focused Sweetbitter, it understands that there is more than one coming-of-age moment in a person's lifetime, and those that come later are often the most significant.

I don’t know how to feel about the ending. I wanted something more definite, I think. But I suppose I would say that, having seen myself reflected so sharply.

Supper Club was an intensely personal experience for me, but I think I can hold it at arm's length enough to say it is objectively good. The lavish food writing and high-concept premise make it memorable, but I loved the universality of the core story – finding and losing friends and lovers; what happens when life doesn't quite go to plan. The broader plot and the smaller details are equally strong. This is a gem.

I received an advance review copy of Supper Club from the publisher through Edelweiss.

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Profile Image for Tory.
1,199 reviews26 followers
January 25, 2019
This book is structured around the premise that bucking beauty standards by pigging out and getting fat is revolutionary and a feminist protest -- except EVERYONE is overweight now. According to the WHO, in 2014 (five years ago at this point), 62% of adults in the UK (where this book is set) were overweight or obese. That statistic has only gone up. It's like getting a tattoo to be rebellious, except everyone is tattooed now. NOT getting a tattoo would be the act of rebellion at this point. Being a glutton isn't an act of radical feminism. It's just being a glutton. Be radical by taking care of your damn self. And don't get me started on the "feminist" notion that apparently all women are secretly lesbians, which this book trumpets -- what nonsense.

Roberta is a sad sack; Stevie is a giant ball of crazy; this book is supposedly "Fight Club" for disillusioned workforce white-lady Millennials...but it's not. It's Diet Fight Club, lacking any of the anarchist glee of Palahniuk and instead wallowing in a self-inflicted fog of passive nothingness. How fucking tedious.
Profile Image for Sarah.
1,161 reviews35 followers
October 5, 2019
When describing what Supper Club is about - women seeking to have a positive relationship with food and their bodies, female friendships, women who want to take up space and reclaim their bodies, bodies which men have often taken advantage of - it sounds right up my street. I've seen comparisons made to Fleabag: The Original Play, My Year of Rest and Relaxation, Animals and The New Me, other recent novels with (the very of the moment) "unlikeable female protagonist(s)". Of these I'd say Supper Club is probably most comparable to Animals and The New Me, but Supper Club is something else entirely.

And yet... it didn't come together for me. There was a bit too much going on, the pacing was off at times and the random descriptions of food jarred for me. Unfortunately the great premise wasn't enough to make up for the issues with the story.

Thank you Netgalley and Penguin Books UK for the advance copy, which was provided in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Niki.
689 reviews108 followers
December 21, 2022
What a bitter disappointment this was. It promises a lot but delivers so, so little.

You may think that since this book is titled "Supper Club" it'd be all about said Supper Club, the women in it, how it was formed, seeing the meetings, all that, right? WRONG. Granted, you do see all that, but it's such a small part of the book and is, ultimately, given so little room to breathe, that it may as well be a footnote.

The book's non-linear timeline does it no favours. Instead of having an a-ha! moment when we see Roberta's past, "Oh, so THAT'S why she was so into creating Supper Club, that's why she, in particular, needs that sisterhood", there is SO MUCH time dedicated to her several relationships and internalized misogyny that the entire message of the Supper Club rings hollow. Seeing as, again, it's the book's title, you'd think that the entire "women claiming their right to take space in the world" message would be the focus, but instead it's Roberta comparing herself to other, thinner women, slyly talking shit about them in the narration, and having terrible relationships with terrible men, probably in an attempt to show that the patriarchy is toxic or something. Roberta spends 50% of the book kind of dipping her toes in humblebragging about being fuckable but also whining that she's actually not happy in those relationships, but still stays because it's better than being a spinster (???? maybe? That's not explicitly said in the book but it's the only explanation I can gather, she doesn't want to be alone)

I get that those parts were probably meant as society's expectations of Roberta, that she kept trying to fulfill but was ultimately unhappy, and why she decided to launch Supper Club. The problem is, her relationship with the Supper Club girls are just as unhappy and toxic. Stevie forces her to do stuff she doesn't want, like breaking into places, and the other girls just don't exist at all, they're LESS than cardboard cutouts. There's no sisterhood to speak of. The actual Supper Club scenes, few as they may be, are fun, but I felt absolutely no feminist camaraderie between the girls, it's just some drunken partying. There's nothing profound about it.

Even the "appreciating your body no matter what its size is" message was completely hollow. When Roberta is describing a past relationship (with her professor, no less!) she makes sure to highlight how fuckable she was because she was skinny and young, not in a critical way, but rather a lot like bragging. Even later, when she gains weight, she's super self-conscious about it and is always thinking about hiding her belly with her coat while she's sitting somewhere, and stuff like that.

I just don't understand what the point was. Supper Club (as in the actual club, not the book in general) was supposed to be a way for the women to grow and embrace themselves, yet Roberta is still in an unhappy relationship by the end (it's implied that they may break up because of the last SC, but we're never shown that), Stevie is still a Manic Pixie Dream Girl that brings Roberta down for not having ambition yet doesn't have any herself, and the other women aren't even there. By the end, the reader knows a lot more about Roberta's asshole boyfriends or her terrible dad than about any of the Supper Club women.

So, what did I like about the book? I liked the potential and I liked any and all descriptions that were about food, the author made everything sound delicious. Oh, and that one scene when Roberta meets that professor boyfriend I mentioned years later, and she dismisses him like the asshole he was, even though the narration was almost setting up a "rekindling of the old spark" scenario. That's about it.
Profile Image for Rebecca.
3,508 reviews2,507 followers
June 29, 2019
“What could violate social convention more than women coming together to indulge their hunger and take up space?” Roberta and Stevie become instant besties when Stevie is hired as an intern at the fashion website where Roberta has been a writer for four years. Stevie is a would-be artist and Roberta loves to cook; they decide to combine their talents and host Supper Clubs that allow emotionally damaged women to indulge their appetites. The pop-ups take place at down-at-heel or not-strictly-legal locations, the food is foraged from dumpsters, and there are sometimes elaborate themes and costumes. These bacchanalian events tend to devolve into drunkenness, drug-taking, partial nudity and food fights.

The central two-thirds of the book alternates chapters between the present day, when Roberta is 28–30, and her uni days. I don’t think it can be coincidental that Roberta and Stevie are both feminized male names; rather, we are meant to ask to what extent all the characters have defined themselves in terms of the men in their lives. For Roberta, this includes the father who left when she was seven and now thinks he can send her chatty e-mails whenever he wants; the fellow student who raped her at uni; and the philosophy professor she dated for ages even though he treated her like an inconvenient child. Supper Club is performance art, but it’s also about creating personal meaning when family and romance have failed you.

I was slightly disappointed that Supper Club itself becomes less important as time goes on, and that we never get closure about Roberta’s father. I also found it difficult to keep the secondary characters’ backstories straight. But overall this is a great debut novel with strong themes of female friendship and food. Roberta opens most chapters with cooking lore and tips, and there are some terrific scenes set in cafés. I suspect this will mean a lot to a lot of young women. Particularly if you’ve liked Sweetbitter and Friendship, give it a taste.

Some favorite lines:

“What I needed was sustenance. Fortification. The act of cooking imposed a kind of dignity on hunger, which had become terrifying.”

“After talking about things we were watching on Netflix, Dadaism and what you can do with softened tomatoes, we decided it would be a good idea to dance.”

“My whole life was the push/pull of appetite: wanting to consume, but also to be consumed.”

“‘I find cooking sort of a radical act,’ I said. He continued staring at the road. ‘Oh yeah?’ he replied, just mildly amused. ‘Oh yes. It’s the transience. All that time for a fleeting pleasure. Nothing else is like that.”

“I got out my phone again and watched it with a feeling of wildness and urgency: this stupid metallic slab that I poured so much of myself into.”
Profile Image for Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer.
1,714 reviews1,144 followers
October 11, 2019
Winner of the 2019 Guardian Not The Booker prize.

I had previously read the author’s short story collection “Treats” due to its shortlisting for the inaugural
Republic of Consciousness prize. That book began (appropriately) with the excellent “It begins” – which over 5 pages effortlessly sketched out a few years of the post graduate life of a young girl (moving back home, unable to get a paid job in arts and settling on an office job, falling in love, breakdown of marriage, post-divorce dating). The rest of the book however felt to me too much like a series of variations and reworks of the same story and was ultimately disappointing although I had no doubt about the author’s writing skills or ability to sketch out 21st Century Life dilemmas.

This is the author’s debut novel – and the longer form really showcases her skills – this book is on the surface funny and celebratory, but beneath that surface dark and deep – and powerful in its message of the hidden effects of trauma and how they suppress female empowerment.

The book takes place over two distinct timelines around 10 years apart: the earliest when the main character Roberta – who has grown up in an all-female household - spends her first year at University (in I think Manchester). Early on during that period Roberta suffers data rape (even if she does not acknowledge it as such at the time), later she is dated by one of the University lecturers Arnold. Otherwise she largely drifts through her first year while all around her (particularly her housemates) seem to be enjoying more active lives. As a reader though we, perhaps more than she, sense that the traumas of the rape and the domineering, patriarchal way in which Arnold conducts their relationship – treating her as convenient to have around when it suits his physical needs, annoying and needy when it does not - have forced her figuratively into a box.

The second takes place around ten years later - Roberta is working for a fashion website, sometime as a writer, then folder of clothes then social media manager. Her life is perceived by others as having a sense of drift, and she drifts into a relationship with one of her old college friends where much of the sense of her being boxed in and made to fit into his mould (in this case a domestic mould) recurs. She is also contacted by US-based and long absent father who feels free to re-enter her life without apology, suggest meeting and then casually fail to appear.

Again as a reader we sense that Roberta’s retreat, her surrender, her attempts to make herself small and non-threatening, all stem from her experiences as a student. The experiences of that year give the lie to a conversation she has with her flamboyant friend Stevie at the start of the book, about a third person who, to Stevie’s disdain, discusses a supposedly formative year in her life.

“Don’t you think that’s ridiculous, Roberta?”. [Stevie] turned to me. “To put an emphasis on one arbitrary stretch of time that’s you know a total construct? I mean, we are all just these giant accumulations of stuff and experience and talking and things happening to us. You can’t break a human life down into years and say that one really means something”

Roberta – an accomplished cook (her meditations on different foods – from sourdough to kimchi to Soufflé usually forming openings to chapters ) and Stevie set up the Supper Club – a hedonistic female only cooking and eating group which celebrates eating to excess and the physical changes resulting

“I guess it’s kind of like a cookery club” I replied “But it’s not just about the actual food. It’s sort of about how we assert ourselves in space. In different spaces. It’s about taking up more space.”

Over time the Supper Club meetings involve Dumpster diving, then breaking into venues to host them and become all about assertion of the right of females to exist, to take up space, to fight back against societal constraints

It’s about existing in spaces we’re told we shouldn’t exist in, or how we behave in spaces that expect us to behave a certain way, to be a certain thing – and what if we don’t want to be that thing? What if we don’t want to behave in that way? And then what if actually everywhere is one of those restrictive spaces, what if the whole world is designed to inhibit you, and just to exist in it is to break some deep taboo? So what if you give up making yourself smaller all the time, like all the time, and you make yourself bigger instead? And what if to make space for yourself to be bigger, you have to take it?

Towards the book’s end the modern day Roberta finally acknowledges both the rape she suffered and the inappropriateness (on his behalf) of her relationship with Arnold – meeting the later and in a delicious scene over dinner refusing to be confined by him anymore:

When he tried to tell me about some renovations he was having done to his home office, I said “Oh, I don’t think I’m interested in hearing about that”. I carried on talking, I spoke all of my unspoken thoughts and ideas. I spoke any notion that popped into my head. When I didn’t think he was properly listening to me, I repeated myself. When he interrupted I said “I’ve not finished yet”. When he told me something I already knew, I said “Thank you, but I obviously already know that”

All of the above is written in a witty and engaging way.

I am not sure I was always able to keep up with the ever changing casts in both sections. This was also though a very millennial book I think – as well as a female one – both I think building off the author’s writing in “Treats”.

At times I did wonder if as a male I was entirely able to emphasise with the way in which Roberta is confined and the way in which she decides to assert her right to space. I think the author was signalling that in an early Supper Club scene.

Stevie put on “Cut Your Hair” and turned the volume right up. Stevie, Emmeline and I sang the lyric “Darling, don’t you go and cut your hair” DO YOU THINK IT’S GONNA MAKE HIM CHANGE? extra- loud, and Andre looked confused, because of course he didn’t understand.

But overall an interesting read.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Jessica Sullivan.
518 reviews417 followers
July 21, 2019
This evocative novel is built around such a fierce and exciting premise: a group of women hungry for something more in their lives form a secret society called the Supper Club, where they get together every few weeks and feast on decadent foods all night long until they’re sick. They take drugs. They dance. They trash their surroundings. They put on weight. They reclaim their appetites in every sense: indulging their hungers both literally and figuratively; taking up space in a world where women are expected to do the opposite.

Roberta is the protagonist of the novel and she has spent much of her life trying not to take up space. Apologizing for everything. Compartmentalizing herself to fit in with the people around her, but never feeling like she’s enough. Enduring a series of men ranging from disappointing to downright abusive. She’s pushing 30 when she meets the confident and free-spirited Stevie and they come up with the idea for the club—based in part on Roberta’s love of cooking that she cultivated over the years to give herself a sense of purpose.

Finally, Roberta is coming out of her shell and indulging herself like never before—but then an old crush comes back into her life. Unlike the other men from her past, he’s a good person who treats her well. But her budding relationship with him threatens the progress she has made and forces her to question what she really desires most—and what will make her feel truly fulfilled.

Timely and perceptive, this unique coming-of-age story is full of keen observations about modern life, lush descriptions of food and repressed female rage. I found myself wishing that it had gone in a darker direction to do justice to the carnal, decadent premise, and I was less interested in the relationship sub-plot than the supper club, but by the end it’s clear that this is above all else a Bildungsroman story, and it was a pleasure to indulge in it. (Extra points to the author for an absolutely perfect final few paragraphs.)
Profile Image for Trudie.
515 reviews547 followers
November 15, 2019
* 3.5 *

Supper Club , as nearly every review will tell you sits nicely in amongst other stories of "Millennial malaise". It is lighter than My Year of Rest and Relaxation , not a pseudo dystopia like Severance and from what I can tell not as funny as Fleabag. What did tickle my fancy was all the raucous Bacchanalian feasting. We learn handy pointers for caramelising onions, making your first (and probably only) sourdough starter, spaghetti puttanesca ( or sluts spaghetti, yell at Nigella for that one ) and Hunters stew. As a cookbook it is quite good but as a novel less so.

This story held plenty of promise initially, female-relationship focused and tackling some serious issues of date rape and social anxiety, I was quite excited to see all the aspects come together and culminate in this anarchist Supper Club. But it is not really structured in a way that delivers the punch it should.
I believe time shifts are the devils mischief particularly for debut novelists, if you are going to dabble then make sure we all know where we are. In this particular case, I am unsure what was gained from flinging me like a Pachinko ball from 19 year old Roberta at University to late twenties Roberta and various point betwixt. I know what was lost and that was seamless storytelling.

An aside : totally irrelevant to the themes of the novel but what horrific food wastage!. Credit is due for sourcing food from "dumpster diving" but then points deducted for the mountains of food thrown around and smeared on walls ... It often seemed Hedonistic rather than Feminist but what do I know. I might be too old to really get it.
Profile Image for lise.charmel.
352 reviews148 followers
June 20, 2022
Le divoratrici è la storia di una giovane donna, Roberta, delle sue insicurezze, della sua incapacità totale di instaurare relazioni paritarie con gli altri esseri umani. E' sempre lei quella che si sottomette, che mendica attenzioni, che è pronta a farsi da parte come se gli altri la accogliessero malvolentieri.
Poi sul lavoro incontra Stevie, con la quale instaura un rapporto di amicizia sincero, paritario, che rende felici entrambe. E insieme fondano un Supper Club, in cui con altre donne si ritrovano per cucinare, mangiare fino a scoppiare, ballare, esagerare fino ad esplodere. Un momento in cui non essere le donne dell'immaginario sociale, carine, sottomesse, educate, fissate con la linea e il cibo.
Il romanzo viaggia su due piani temporali: quello dell'università, con tutti i suoi traumi e quello presente in cui a volte alcune cose vanno a posto e altre no.
Ho trovato che fosse magnifico il modo quasi concreto di descrivere la solitudine e mi è piaciuto molto il modo di usare il cibo come correlativo oggettivo, le ricette di elaborate preparazioni a fare da contraltare allo stato d'animo di Roberta.
Solo verso la fine mi è mancata la chiusura di alcuni aspetti, di cui a quel punto non ho capito il senso.
Lo consiglio molto.
Profile Image for Marco.
630 reviews16 followers
June 15, 2019
Look, I've read the reviews so far - you either love it or you didn't. It's either 1/2 stars or 4/5. But I can tell you, you've never read a book like this before. And if you've ever had questions about where you fit in and how, you'll identify. This is not a "feel good" book, that's not what you're getting here, or even a introspective story - this is more real than those fake books.

Do you ever think sometimes the life you're living - you're living it as an imposter? And this is an actual thing, it's called "Imposter Syndrome" - looking at others around us - put together, looking a certain way - and think "They truly live in their own body and mind. They don't have to think outside the box. Because for them there's never been a box."

This is what "Supper Club" by Lara Williams is about.

I've never read a novel more real about anxiety of the social norm, the question - When do we actually become a full-fledged human being?

This is the question facing main character Roberta who tells her story in alternating timelines through college, her career(s) afterward, and her relationships throughout. After meeting the eccentric intern Stevie (only 2 years her junior), the two start a 'supper club' full of debauchery and indulgence of food, a renegade faction whose joy has either halted or been stolen and are choosing to recapture it.

Through changes, her estranged father who sends her e-mails, her mother whose life is starting over again, Roberta has suddenly seen life has moved on. Was she ever in it? Can she get back in?

And there are pieces of her past she has to reconcile before she can. But with the antics of the Supper Club becoming more and more dangerous - it threatens to destroy her current relationship, her friendship with the ladies whose stories they tell to one another in secret, and maybe even her own sense of self.

With diverse, intriguing characters and an intense storyline that kept my interest for a whole day of reading, this is in the running for one of my top books of 2019. This is unlike anything you’ve read and is ready for the big screen.

"Supper Club" will be out July 9th, 2019. Superbly done. I couldn't put it down. It's still in my head.

I think the author did a really well job looking at someone who has to stop apologizing for taking up space and deal with past trauma. I never felt frustrated with the character because her decisions were not based on anything volatile, it was just what she was used to. In that way, this character defies convention.

She's not "quirky" or "different", in fact, Roberta is the most real character I've ever read.

And the food is just a bit part of it. I know some will concentrate on the idea that this book discusses food as a way to rebel or that by gaining weight through eating they are rebelling, but that misses the point. The point is to reclaim the notion that everyone puts in your face, but rarely expects you to actually do : Be yourself.

So if you want to eat, why can't we? The real problem comes when the club starts to get more dangerous in its conception. And then this puts the novel into its existential question: Who are we? And what do we want?

If you didn't push the limits - would you ever find out?

Get it now. Really, I think you'll enjoy it if you know what you're getting in to.
Profile Image for Coreena McBurnie.
Author 3 books65 followers
June 7, 2019
I loved the premise of this book -- about women taking up space, finding out what they really want, not changing themselves for someone else, growing into who they want to be.

And there is this in Supper Club. Still, the execution did not work for me. I did not like this book much. The characters mostly annoyed me. I found the female friendships OK. The eating, drinking, doing drugs, etc to excess was difficult to read, but maybe that was the point. The men tended to be terrible, but maybe that was the point too.

Roberta was a shy character, she was drifting through life. She put up with terrible things from men. The Supper Club was a way for her to grow, but I felt like she didn't grow all that much until the very end. Even after the Supper Club started, she got together with a man who didn't want her to be herself.

Maybe that's what is bugging me about this book. The women took all of this freedom and indulged in the Supper Club so they could grow but I didn't really see them grow. Then there was massive change right at the end.

Overall, the premise was great, but the execution didn't work for me.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a review copy of this book.
71 reviews
June 4, 2019
I really didn't enjoy this book. I understood some of the points she was trying to make e.g. appreciating our bodies whatever the size. I thought the gorging and vomiting was disturbing and really unpleasant to read about. I feel she's missed the point she's seemingly trying to make. and I found it uncomfortably lacking in the feminism for which she's reaching..
Profile Image for Esil.
1,118 reviews1,323 followers
November 30, 2019

There’s something seriously wrong with my reading habits. I got an advance copy of Such a Fun Age. I started reading a book that my Kindle said was Such a Fun Age. About 10% of the way in, I thought the story has nothing to do with the description, and I went back to the title page, only to discover I was reading a completely different book — The Supper Club. By that point, I really wasn’t enjoying it much. Most human beings in this situation would stop reading and find the book they meant to read. But not me. Once I’ve started reading a book, even if I don’t much like it, I have trouble putting on the brakes...

And I wish my accidental reading of The Supper Club had led me to discover a book I loved. But, alas, no such luck. The Supper Club is primarily about Roberta, a young woman living in contemporary England. The story focuses on two alternating times in her life — when she was a young university student and a few years later when she is in her late 20s. Roberta is deeply lonely and socially awkward. Her relationships with men and friends are fractious and difficult. But she and her friend Stevie land on a liberating idea — a small club of young women who have supper together every now and then where they break through many conventional norms — food comes from dumpsters, they drink a lot and take drugs, they vomit, they wear weird costumes, and they dance late into the night. I get it the concept. I also recognize that Roberta’s troubles are borne out of legitimate trauma. And some of the writing was top notch. But I just couldn’t get into Roberta’s sad anxious headspace. It was all a bit too claustrophobic for me. This is probably better suited to a younger audience. There was some great information about food and cooking, but otherwise this was not for me.

The good news is that I finished The Supper Club quickly because it’s quite short, and then moved on to Such a Fun Age, which I really liked...

Thanks to the publisher for the inadvertent advance copy. I also happened to have advertent — not a word, I know — copies from Netgalley and Edelweiss that I had not yet got around to reading...
Profile Image for Lotte.
527 reviews1,102 followers
August 10, 2019
When I first heard about this book, I instantly fell in love with its premise (and its stunning cover). It sounds so interesting – and it is!
In the eponymous supper club, women meet to devour lavish meals together, to unapologetically feast and overindulge on food. By literally and figuratively taking up more space, they try to reclaim power over their own bodies and redefine their (physical) place in society. This is what the supper club (founded by the novel's protagonist Roberta and her best friend Stevie) is all about. The novel Supper Club as a whole, however, is about a lot more than that.
At the heart of it, this story is about Roberta, her past and her coming-of-age. It is still very much an exploration of women's relationships to their bodies and to food, but these themes are mainly mediated through Roberta, her experience with loneliness and isolation at university, but also her romantic relationships and friendships. The complicated bond between her and Stevie was very well fleshed out, but reminded me almost a little too much of the relationship between Frances and Bobbi in Sally Rooney's Conversations with Friends, which I read a couple of months ago. Roberta's and Stevie's co-dependence was still interesting to read about, but because of the similarities I couldn't stop comparing these two books with each other while I was reading this one.
Overall, I really liked Lara Williams' writing style and enjoyed the process of reading this (I finished it within two days after buying it). However, at times I wish she had gone a little more into depth with what she was trying to convey, as some characters didn't feel like characters and more like ideas she was exploring. All in all, this was a great debut novel that could've been amazing if it had just a little more substance (pun intended?) to it.

Since this is a fairly new release, I'll also mention some content warnings, but will mark them as a spoiler:
Profile Image for Makenzie.
308 reviews7 followers
August 4, 2019
A less nihilistic, but more relatable (and therefore more upsetting) version of Ottessa Moshfegh's My Year of Rest and Relaxation. It's the sort of book I wish had existed when I was 15, although I probably would've been horrified by it. Normally I'm more resigned about the degree to which women's bodies are policed, but this book actually made me furious about it, particularly for my younger self. Lara Williams really just gets it. Subversive and humorous, I won't forget it soon.
Profile Image for Lu De Angelis.
8 reviews9 followers
January 24, 2021
Ho gusti difficili e raramente mi piacciono gli esordi. Questo però è scritto bene, senza pretese snob da neofita di scrittura creativa. Non è un fight club femminista, come recita la fascetta. È più un pranzo di Babette senza protestanti tromboni. Ma Babette si chiama Roberta, e non ha niente di straordinario o eccezionale, se non la serena rassegnazione alla propria normalità. Ha un rapporto ingarbugliato col proprio corpo e lo spazio che si concede di occupare. E anche questo, per una donna, è tristemente normale.
Un bel libro non è solo la somma dei temi che tratta, e Le divoratrici non è solo un intreccio di umiliazioni, resistenza alla diet culture e salute mentale vacillante. È una lunga riflessione sul disgusto e il piacere, la liberazione e il rigetto che suscita il senso di pienezza. E sull'orrore del vuoto e i suoi riempitivi, su fino a dove siamo disposti a ingoiare e digerire i pezzi che gli altri ci gettano dentro.
Profile Image for kyle.
138 reviews30 followers
November 21, 2020
four stars but also a new favorite no i cant explain why its not a five star but still a favorite
Profile Image for Celeste - Una stanza tutta per me.
187 reviews132 followers
January 25, 2021
«E se, in realtà, tutti gli spazi fossero restrittivi, tutto il mondo fosse progettato per inibirci, e anche solo esisterci volesse dire infrangere un tabù profondo?»

Mi sono molto arrabbiata, leggendolo. Perché riflette la mia generazione, donne a disagio nei propri corpi e nel mondo, perennemente in punta di piedi in città che non ci appartengono, non fino in fondo. Mi sono però anche divertita, leggendo la rivincita di queste donne così diverse, così fragili e così forti, vendicative nei confronti della vita.
December 10, 2019
Roberta has spent her entire life trying to be enough but not too much.  She finds power in being thin but has a passion for food and longs for friends though she spends most of her time in her room.

Nearing thirty, Roberta's life is shaken up by Stevie, a free-spirited artist she meets at work. Together the women give in to their hunger and create Supper Club.  Dumpster diving for food and buying booze, a group of women break into private buildings to feast on their finds, dress elaborately for a pre-planned theme, dance all night, and leave behind their party for someone else to clean up the next day.
Each woman has been interviewed by Roberta and Stevie before they receive an invitation; each is hurting and vulnerable.  No longer will they repress their feelings, they'll celebrate.

This was a sharp story following Roberta's life through instructions for her favorite recipes and e-mails from her estranged father between alternating chapters of past and present.  Readers learn the events that led Roberta to who she has become and what has held her back for years.  The present day chapters offer a glimpse at the future thanks to the help of the Supper Club.

An evocative debut novel, Supper Club is a perceptive coming-of-age story for women.  I loved the delicious descriptions of food, the complicated female friendships, and the indulgence of the Supper Club scenes.

I recommend this book to readers who enjoy contemporary fiction and books that center around food and female friendship.

For more reviews, visit www.rootsandreads.wordpress.com
Profile Image for Callum McLaughlin.
Author 4 books83 followers
July 2, 2020
It’s proving tricky to reconcile my feelings for this book, which I found simultaneously incisive and frustrating. We follow Roberta, a woman in her late 20s who sets up a supper club where she and fellow women can intentionally live to excess. It starts as a means of indulging their love of food without the scrutiny of men or the pressure to appear dainty and refined, but the gatherings become increasingly hedonistic and dangerous.

I love what the supper club itself represents: women’s desire to break free of the male gaze and societal expectations; to live freely and to unapologetically take up space in ways and places they would normally be excluded from. It’s no coincidence that many of the women attending the gatherings have had their bodies violated or policed in some way by men, be they rape survivors, domestic abuse victims, or otherwise. As such, it’s clear there’s more going on beneath the surface for many of these women – Roberta included – as they use the supper club as a means to take back autonomy of their bodies and to collectively excise their buried trauma. Flashbacks to Roberta’s time at university a decade prior build on this theme, showing how the seeds of early trauma and social conditioning can continue to influence your wellbeing, behaviour and outlook years down the line. Across both timelines, Williams also does a good job of showing how both overt and micro-aggressions can quash female resolve and cause women to internalise misogyny of their own.

My trouble is how ironically self-indulgent the book is. Clunky dialogue full of exposition regularly spells out the novel’s every thematic intention with little room for debate. When a book is otherwise tackling interesting topics well, this heavy-handedness feels particularly awkward. Whilst it’s great to read a novel with lots of casual LGBT+ representation, the handling of queerness also felt a little clumsy and tokenistic at times. The introduction of a trans woman is particularly uncouth. She is deliberately misgendered, repeatedly referred to using male pronouns, allowing for her trans identity to be revealed like a plot twist before the switch is made to her correct pronouns. Well-meaning representation, perhaps, but certainly not without its flaws.

The book occasionally homes in on the importance and complexity of sisterhood, and I think this is where its real strength lies. But while the female supporting characters all remain flat archetypes who float in and out of the narrative purely to further Roberta’s story, a lot of time is spent on the various awful men in her life. This feels like an odd choice considering the book’s supposed focus on women removing themselves from male influence. Given the novel’s fixation with transformation, I also think the ending was underwhelming somehow; important in its own way, but not as bold or subversive as the novel seemed to be striving for.

This is one of those novels that had so many good ingredients (pardon the pun) that I kept feeling like I should be enjoying it more than I was. Perhaps that means there is also an element of right-book-wrong-time at play. Whatever the case, I can understand why this one has been so polarizing, but there was certainly enough of merit that I’d be willing to check out what Williams does next.
Profile Image for Judith Vives.
235 reviews62 followers
July 1, 2021
He disfrutado un montón de este libro. Y a la vez me siento un poco decepcionada porque estaba convencida de que iba a ser mi nuevo libro favorito e iba a darle cinco estrellas. Pero bueno, me pasé de expectativas.

Me ha recordado a The Bell Jar, a My Year of Rest, y a todas estas novelas modernas simplemente sobre chicas de entre 20 y 30 años navegando sus vidas sin mucha motivación o sin saber muy bien qué hacer.

No son 5 estrellas porque me parece que, con lo chulo e interesante que es el concepto de los Supper Clubs, acaba siendo un poco una subtrama en el libro. Quería más, quería que explorase más la idea de cómo ocupar espacios siendo mujer, y me quedé con ganas de conocer mejor a las otras chicas. Quizás me hubiese funcionado mejor el libro como un múltiple-POV en lugar de una prota que interactúa con otras mujeres de las cuales tenemos un contexto de un par de páginas para cada una. Incluso de Stevie, la mejor amiga de la protagonista, nos quedamos muy en la superfície.
Profile Image for Sian.
79 reviews
June 24, 2019
It's rare I give a book 5 stars nowadays but this book truly spoke to me. It felt like Fleabag but written about me, everything from the intense knowledge about food to the loneliness of feeling like you don't belong. I found so much of myself in Roberta that there were many moments of her pain that I cried through and I felt so incredibly understood. A wonderfully written book about a girl who just wants to be told what to do, only to realise that life doesn't work that way.
Profile Image for Jaclyn.
Author 43 books548 followers
August 26, 2019
I’m really enjoying the female rage imbuing so much contemporary fiction. Here, Williams howls loudly about a woman’s place, what we hunger for and the space/s we occupy. I enjoyed every delicious morsel. The premise is two friends start a secret club where members gorge on food, drugs and dancing. The food writing is spectacular. This book will not be for everyone but I feel completely sated.
Profile Image for Holly Dolan.
74 reviews311 followers
August 8, 2021
The plot, the writing, the characters... Lara Williams gets everything right in Supper Club. Supper Club takes on a unique lens when contextualising the characters to the story, it ventures on to all the necessary stories of womanhood, all whilst highlighting the complexities of vital friendships.
Profile Image for Sunny.
634 reviews3,200 followers
June 13, 2022
food fights, female friendship/rage/intimacy, foraging in the dumpster
Profile Image for Carly.
73 reviews26 followers
May 4, 2022
I accidentally returned this book before writing down quotes from my earmarked pages, oh well. This is about body autonomy and food.

A young lady loves cooking until one day she is raped on a date with an awful young man. She retreats further into herself and stops cooking, or eating for that matter. She starts to shrivel up and people cannot stop commenting on her frail body, instead of asking her how she is doing.

Eventually the young lady meets a wild child friend who convinces her they should start a supper club. Young lady becomes passionate about cooking and eating again. Other ladies join, and each lady shares their own trauma. And they eat and they eat. The young lady soon gains 30in to her small frame and is quite pleased of herself.

Other people continue to comment on her body- now it is too big and squishy. Young lady learns that others try to control women’s bodies and police them. She continues her act of defiance by eating more, breaking into a store, going topless, skinny dipping on a beautiful day.

Eventually there is a love story and semi-open ending, but the moral is our bodies belong to us and if we want to eat then we should eat.
Profile Image for Avery.
262 reviews22 followers
October 19, 2022
The stars are only for the amazing food descriptions. Really.

Maybe I've had my fill of "unhinged woman" books already, but there is something about this that rang particularly hollow. So let's dissect.

There is a dual timeline here: sometimes we follow Roberta, the main character, as she fumbles her way through university (that's where she discovers her passion for cooking, which is nice. the rest of it is not), and other chapters are in the present, where Roberta meets Stevie at work, they quickly become friends, decide to live together and then create the titular Supper Club.

What is the Supper Club? "It's about women taking up space!", they repeat ad nauseam, but what does it even MEAN in this context? It just feels like an empty slogan. It's a group of women meeting up, preparing elaborate feasts, gorging themselves and doing drugs. At some point a character says:

'He's got a real problem with Supper Club. Like, he said we think we're doing something really profound, but actually, we're doing something which is at best basic, and at worst, just really fucking bourgeoise and gross.'

And I mean yeah, dude is not wrong? But what they (mainly Stevie) do with this criticism is try to make their meetings more "radical" which turns out laughable. The only thing they change is now they break into places instead of renting out space in a restaurant. Wow, truly revolutionary. If they wanted to do something "profound" or at least, something that makes a difference then I don't know, start cooking for Food not Bombs, at least this way they would help someone other than Stevie's ego.

And then there comes this weird dichotomy that this book kinda promotes through juxtaposing Stevie's idea of how life should be (chaotic and risky, which is rich coming from someone who has nothing to lose or worry about as her wealthy parents pay for everything) to how Roberta's life is in her first healthy relationship (nice and "boring"). The first is good, the latter is somehow unfeminist or selfish and individualist. The problem is, this view is clearly formed through looking at heterosexual dynamics, wanting to reject domestic life with a boyfriend etc, but then Roberta applies it to queer couples as well and is super shitty to her lovely mum, who comes out later in life and finds a girlfriend whom she wants to marry. She whines and is cruel to her mum and her partner as soon as she sees that they're too "cozy and domestic". GIVE ME A BREAK. YOUR MUM IS A MILLION TIMES MORE REVOLUTIONARY FOR THIS THAN YOU AND STEVIE COULD EVER BE. Monica, one of the women from Supper Club, receives similar criticism for bailing on breaking into a store and "worrying about money" and is accused of using her girlfriend to try out an experimental life. I think this is one of the problems that emerge when you add lesbian and bi women as side characters to your story as tokens, but when the story is written from a cishet perspective it really shows, because you can't apply the same ways of thinking about relationship dynamics to queer women. There is also a transfem character and while I appreciate the effort as it clearly came from a good place, her backstory is not written in a sensitive way, please stop changing pronouns while speaking about trans people's past, before they realised. It's still misgendering.

Another problem I have with this book it it's failure at representing sisterhood between women. Because that's what the Supper Clubs are supposed to foster. But is it really sisterhood, when it all has to be how Stevie wants it and others just drag along, especially Roberta - eternally terrified of upsetting her supposed best friend? When they reject women who are too scared to go along with the break ins? Apparently you're only worthy of being an interesting person is if you lead a "risky" life, whatever that means. Not only that but they literally just eat the food and do drugs. There is no sisterly support or important conversations, at least not for the readers to witness. In its main conflict between Roberta and Stevie, the book reminded me of "Animals" by Emma Jane Unsworth (but that one was actually funny). However where "Animals" succeeds, "Supper Club" fails. Similarly to Roberta, Laura in "Animals" was torn between a serious life with her long-term boyfriend, and a party life with her unhinged best friend. Except that both Laura's boyfriend and best friend were kind of selfish assholes, and Laura ends up choosing herself and her own happines, going her own way. Here, well,

Also, don't use the kimchi recipe that's added at the beginning of one of the chapters lol, just use Maangchi's.
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