Some authors are able to describe meals in their books with such vivid clarity that they leave you salivating as you turn the pages. However, there are a few others who delight in adding more drama to their dinner scenes than simply spilt wine or a quarrel over who gets to carve the turkey. Here are five dinners in literature where some of the participants ended up biting off more than they could chew.
The Red Wedding Banquet
In terms of the sheer amount of shocking things happening during one meal it is virtually impossible to top the infamous “Red Wedding” scene in A Storm of Swords. What was supposed to be a happy celebration of the marriage between Edmure Tully and Roslin Frey turned very gruesome, very quickly. Fuming at Robb Stark’s refusal to marry his daughter, Lord Walder Frey takes his revenge on the Stark family. Without going into vivid detail, let’s just say that the meat wasn’t the only thing that got skewered during this meal and more blood than wine ended up flowing during the festivities.
The Reconciliatory Feast
A lot of very disturbing things happen in this tragic Roman Empire tale of revenge by William Shakespeare, culminating in a shocking dinner. After inviting a group of people to his reconciliatory feast, Titus prepares the meal by killing and grinding up the bones of Demetrius and Chiron before baking their heads. He then serves this gruesome dish at the feast where multiple people, including Titus himself, end up getting stabbed and killed.
The Dinner Party
Never Mind is the first of the Patrick Melrose novels written by Edward St Aubyn about his own traumatic upbringing. The story takes place over the course of one day and is set amidst a dinner party held at the family’s house in the south of France. The cause of all the shock and drama is David, Patrick’s aristocratic father who not only abuses his own son before hosting a dinner party, but also goes on to make life difficult for everyone at the dinner. This includes terrorizing and belittling his wife, bullying his guests and trying to grope one of them under the table.
The Key Lime Pie Dessert
Heartburn is another thinly disguised autobiographical novel ending in a dinner scene that doesn’t go quite the way guests expected. The seven-month pregnant protagonist, Rachel Samstat, is devastated to discover her husband is in love with another woman. However, she soldiers on until at a dinner with friends where she decides to end her marriage with the use of a strategically thrown homemade key lime pie.
The Unexpected Party
In this prelude to the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the titular hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, just wants a comfortable, quiet life. However, his life becomes decidedly more complicated when he invites the wizard Gandalf over for tea. Instead of Gandalf, Bilbo finds his home invaded by a group of rowdy dwarves who proceeds to help themselves to all his food. Of course, as traumatic as this unexpected dinner party is for Bilbo, it is just the start of the one thing that he really, really wanted to avoid. An adventure.