BOOK CLUB: Table For Eight

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Author: Tricia Stringer
ISBN: 9781489246806
RRP: $32.99
Publication Date: 24 September 2018
Publisher: HQ Fiction
Copy: Courtesy of the Publisher

Tricia Stringer is a favourite Australian author of mine and we have featured her a few times for the book club. Table For Eight is her latest release and a change of pace for the author who deftly weaves sweeping historical sagas and rural romances with skill.

Table For Eight is a contemporary character based tale that takes place on a cruise ship, and is enough to make anyone in need of a holiday jealous.

This is a very character driven tale with a large cast of leads, most of whom I loved. Past releases have proven that Tricia has no trouble juggling a large cast and ensuring we get to know and connect with them, Table For Eight is no different.

Ketty Clift is a  seasoned traveller who has been on many cruises throughout her long life, quite a few on the Diamond Duchess. The news that the Duchess is being retired prompts her to book one last cruise, at a time that she needs to be focusing on her business, Ketty Clift Couture. Ketty is an interesting character and I must admit I found her fascinating. Ketty is older, a veteran cruiser, a business owner, a single lady and she’s a fixer. There is something inherent in her nature that is nurturing and just wants people to find their happiness and feel special. Her business has been built based on the philosophy of making her clients feel special.

There’s an interesting dynamic with Ketty and the maître d’, they have cruised together in the past, and I just can’t put my finger on what the story is with them. They do know each other relatively well and the maître d’ has control of the dining room, and the seating plan. He has seated Ketty on a much larger table than usual, with a group of passengers in dire need of a helping hand.

I found Ketty to be a lovable and caring character but she doesn’t always seem that way to her table mates, they find her to be a bit nosy and even meddling. I tend to think that the way characters view Ketty has a lot to do with what they might be trying to hide.

Table for Eight takes us inside the cruise ship with its luxury and pampering and Stringer paints a vivid picture of life on board. It certainly left me considering the idea of a short break sailing the seas.

Ketty has quite a few worries of her own this cruise but is determined to do what she can for her tablemates, and what  a mixed bag they are. Christine is the character I feel I should identify the most with, she’s the busy mother with children at home, but she’s probably the character I liked the least. All of the characters at Ketty’s table are facing troubles; from grief, loneliness and financial worries to troubled relationships.

Ketty is a veteran cruiser so many of those on her table eventually look to her for advice and guidance. I loved reading of the way she was able to become a fount of wisdom for them all but what I loved the most was her desire to help out all of the communities they visit on the cruise; especially if their economies have suffered due to weather events or the like.

This cruise really does seem to be an escape of a sort for most of the characters, even if that wasn’t the express reason for booking. Not everyone found what they were looking for but they all found what they needed the most; closure, second chances, new beginnings and a new sense of self.

Ketty Clift Couture was a fascinating business model, Ketty built the business on her own and even in 2018 it has no real online presence. She has always prided herself on custom making garments and giving customers the personal touch; which isn’t possible online. She does have a basic outdated website but before going away she allowed the new shop assistant to organise a new web presence, which leads to a complete makeover in her absence. In these times of internet shopping and instant gratification it is no wonder Ketty Clift Couture is in a lean time but a little creativity and nothing is impossible.

The characters are all quite troubled and they are drawn well, in all their complexities. Christine was the character I liked the least, she seemed to be very self-centred and greedy. The more I read and the better I got to know her, the more I could understand her and see where she was coming from. Not that it was quite enough to completely redeem her, but it certainly went a long way to explaining her behaviour even if it didn’t excuse it.

Maître d’ Carlos has brought together a very mixed bag for Ketty’s table and it really is interesting to contemplate how he could manage to do that, how does he know enough about passengers before they even board to know who needs a little Ketty nurturing to help them find what they need and place them on her table.

Table for Eight was a book that captivated me start to finish; if it wasn’t the wishing myself on board for a relaxing and pampered break from reality, it was connecting with the characters and hoping they managed to find what they were looking for. Definitely a book well worth the read and I look forward to sharing it with the cruise lovers of my family.

Table For Eight is book #43 for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2018.

Available now from Harlequin, Angus & Robertson Bookworld, Booktopia and where all good books are sold.

Tricia can be found at Tricia and Facebook.

Thanks to Harlequin 20 of our Beauty and Lace Club members will be reading Table For Eight so please be aware there may be spoilers in the comments below.

19 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: Table For Eight

  1. I haven’t cried so much since I read the book Marley and me and it was so beautifully written by the very talented Tricia Stringer well done

  2. I thoroughly enjoyed Table for Eight by Tricia Stringer. I think everyone who reads this book will wish to go on a cruise once they’re done! The descriptions given paint a wonderful picture of cruise life – while still giving a realistic view to what it would be like to travel on the one boat with hundreds of other passengers for days on end.

    Tricia tells us a story about a clever dressmaker who loves to travel and loves to help others. Discovering Ketty and the other cast of characters and their problems was enjoyable and intriguing. Some characters definitely left a bit to be desired but they all managed to worm their way into your brain and have you pondering over what could have made them that way.

    Definitely a book I didn’t want to put down!

  3. Thank you for the opportunity to read Table for Eight by Tricia Stringer. I have loved many books by Tricia and was eagerly anticipating this one. This may have something to do with the fact I’d like to do a cruise as well.
    The story centres around Ketty, a mature lady from Sydney who has a couture business which is not going as well as it could. She has been on many cruises and has a friend in the head waiter Carlos. The ship is on its last voyage and Ketty is ready. She is normally placed on a table where the people may need a helping hand with a situation in their lives.
    This is where the story comes together. We see couples, families and singles all involved and having their own stories. Some of these are easier to like than others, but the interactions are all interesting. Everyone changes on this voyage, and it may not always be in the way they expect. I don’t want to give away too much about the characters but most people should be able to identify with someone there.
    I also enjoyed the day visits to different locations as it gave me a lot imagine, tropical locations and different activities to enjoy.

    I thoroughly loved this book and would recommend it for travellers, those interested in relationships and interactions and lovers of great writing.

  4. I absolutely loved this book!! The whole time I was reading it I felt like I was on the cruise with the characters.

  5. Tricia Stringer is one of my favourite writers and she never disappoints.
    I started reading slowly and had myself engrossed in this great story of relationships,struggles, love and hope.
    What a delightful story Tricia writes so well, I felt like I was right there and could picture in my mind the scenery and characters aboard the Diamond Duchess.
    Highly recommended Australian author, thankyou so much Beautyandlace, Harlequin and the fantastic Tricia Stringer!

  6. Table for Eight. By Tricia Stringer

    A cruise brings a variety of people together for 10 days or so in a vastly different space to normal, and sometimes they act in ways they usually would not.

    Ketty Clift is off again on another cruise, where she is delighted to be seated for meals at a table for 8. She sees this as a chance to make new friends and learn something about them.

    Reading this book is just like being on a cruise. It describes the day to day happenings, the ports of call, the dining, the crew, the actives on the boat, and the (sometimes!) outlandish behaviour of some of the passengers.

    Ketty delights in all this. She strives to see the best in people, and gently goes about righting the bumps in their lives. As she has cruised so many times, she is well known to the crew, especially Carlos, the maitre d’.

    A nice story set on the sea around the Pacific Islands.

    Thanks to Beauty & Lace Book Club and Harlequin HarperCollins books for the chance to read this book.

  7. Table for Eight by Tricia Stringer is an amazing read.
    Set on a Cruise Ship, the title describes the Seating arrangment
    for the nightly dinner for the guests travelling together.
    Most of the guests do not know each other before the start of the cruise,
    except for a married couple and her Father.
    They are a mixed lot and seemingly not much in common,
    but as the story unfolds, the dynamics twist and turn
    and bring the most unlikely people together.
    A highly entertaining read that Stringer describes the day to day life on a cruise ship in detail,
    that shows a depth of understanding (or a love of the cruise life)
    and you will picture yourself standing on the upper deck watching the ocean,
    sitting in a secluded alcove having a coctail
    or even bathing under a waterfall on a tropical island port of call.
    I definately recommend this book.

  8. This book caught me hock line and sinker. A story about 8 people on a cruse ship and the up’s and down’s. Everybody has a back story and a different personality. Thank you Beauty and Lace.

  9. What an enjoyable read! I’ve read quite a few of Tricia’s books and always enjoy them, she writes on a range of topics and all are very intriguing and page turning!
    Table for Eight follows 65 yr old Ketty Clift owner of her own dress maker shop going on a cruise. Ketty has been on many cruises over the years and this one may very well be her last.
    On previous cruises Ketty with the help of the Maitre d’ Carlos, has worked her magic and helped changed the lives of her dinner companions with her kindness and helpful hints.
    This cruise though her table of eight is proving rather difficult, she fears she may not be able to help her dinning companions, throw into the mix a long lost love showing up, leaving Ketty is not only focusing on her dinning companions problems but also her own and doing some soul searching.
    The mix of characters in the book is great, there are some you adore instantly, while others you hate, Tricia has down a great job of interweaving the story, I can’t help but feel there is a sequel lurking, there was many unanswered questions about where Ketty was headed next at the end if the book!
    A huge thanks to Beauty and Lace and Harlequin books for the chance to read and review a Table for Eight.

  10. Table for Eight by Patricia Stringer has a large cast and a good story to tell, and really tugged at my emotions and I liked the setting. This is my first book of Patricia’s that I have read also, so it is always great to find new authors to be introduced to as part of the book club.

    The premise is set on a cruise ship, which I found interesting in itself as I have never been on a cruise so it was really different to read about that. I found myself learning a lot of what it’s like to be with so many people on board a vessel and mingling around. The story follows Ketty, who I thought was a well written character, some of the others just didn’t quite gel with me personally, but then the others started to appeal to me. It’s just one of those books that you can keep pace with and not trying to figure out who is who and what’s going on. Ketty is a dressmaker, and usually finds herself helping people out, and this is how the story unfolds from there.

    It is quite an interesting concept, set on a ship, and someone wanting to help people she has never met. There are ups and downs and stories you like and don’t like, but it doesn’t feel disjointed or boring. There is enough happening to keep you intrigued and wanting to find out how the character will evolve or not.

    Thank you to Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to read my first Patricia Stringer book – Table for Eight.

  11. Table for Eight was a really good read.

    I enjoyed learning about Ketty and the connections made both during and before the cruise between herself and her fellow diners.

    The back stories of the different characters gave them depth and the connections between them both during and prior to the cruise helped the story move along.

    I would love to read a follow up to the stories to see if my future predictions are met.

  12. Tricia Stringer you’ve done it again, another amazing book to read and love.

    Table for Eight is mostly set aboard a cruise ship where Ketty Clift is embarking on her final cruise before making serious life changes. It is also the final cruise for the ship itself. An important cruise for both.

    Ketty is a problem fixer and solver and when aboard the ship she is seated at a table of eight where she begins her mission to transform the lives of those other seven people at her table.

    There are many different characters in this book and with Ketty at the lead we are taken through the highs and lows of the lives of the people Ketty is helping.
    You would think that with 8 characters to read about that it would get a bit too much but don’t worry each story is easy to follow and never do they get confusing.
    What a marvelous talent to have where we can be in the lives of 8 people and know where we are in the story.

    Each part of the story is brought to life with the help of the cruise and the ports and islands they visit along the way. I’ve never been on a cruise but still felt that I was along for the ride. I’m thinking that maybe I need to start saving and go on my own cruise.

    Tricia has given us a story that is relatable the people seem real and it’s like you find a little bit of someone you know in some of the characters.
    A wonderful story of friendships, heartbreak and second chances that may change your life.

    Thank you Beauty and Lace and Harlequin for gifting me this book to read.

  13. Ketty Clift loves cruising and helping people so naturally she combines the two on her numerous cruises.
    Ketty’s fashion design business has taken a recent downturn and she had thoughts of cancelling her cruise on the Diamond Duchess’s farewell voyage but it seemed fitting that what may be her last cruise is also the last voyage for this magnificent ship.

    Ketty loves to observe people and her table of eight each night for dinner is the perfect opportunity to get to know her fellow passengers; their strengths and foibles.

    One cruise. Twelve days. Eight strangers. (well almost strangers, there is a husband and wife with the wife’s father in the group).

    Stringer skillfully develops her characters. There are characteristics you will see in yourself and the people around you which draws the reader in, quickly becoming invested in the characters’ lives, eager to learn more.

    Stringer uses the backdrop of a luxury cruise liner to explore issues of broken relationships, love, loss, grief, family relationships, self image and second chances.

    I’ve never been on a cruise and Stringer’s luscious descriptions of the opulence of the ship, the activities available, the night life and the beautiful islands they visited brought it all to life on the page. If you have cruised before I am sure it will bring back memories in vivid detail.

    I loved that the characters were older (aged between 40 and 69) and how they formed friendships and relationships in a different way than younger people. Table for Eight confirms that age is no barrier to love and the need to have companionship and feel wanted.

    The story is told in multiple POV so we get a well rounded view of what the characters think and feel. This also helps to explore the different ways that people see the same situation.
    The main character, Ketty, is a people watcher and she loved giving people a nudge toward love, healing or a change of direction. Some may see Ketty as a meddler or a busy body but she always had good intentions.

    Each character has their own reasons for being on the cruise and heartbreak, secrets and jealousies are slowly divulged throughout the story.

    Stringer’s move from her highly successful Rural Fiction stories to the Contemporary Fiction market has been an outstanding success.

    * Thank you Beauty & Lace and harlequin for my copy.

  14. Well if I didn’t say I finished the book wanting to book a cruise for myself I would be lying!

    I started reading Table for Eight before bed last night which probably wasn’t the smartest idea I had in a while! Off to work at 8am counting down the minutes until I could start reading again!

    I can honestly say I loved the whole story. From beginning to end I was hooked. I really loved the way Ketty took on the role of mother hen and helped each person on the table in their own way. The way each person linked with the next was amazing.

    Well I’m off to convince my hubby we need to book a cruise now! Thank you for the opportunity to review Table for Eight. Another amazing read by Tricia Stringer

  15. I loved this book. So beautifully written by Tricia Stringer; it is thoroughly enthralling from cover to cover. I love the way the author writes of the interaction between the characters of her story, how their lives unfold before us.

    I am not a Cruise fan, but after reading this book, I must say it would be something on my to do list.

    Thanks for the opportunity to read this gem of a book.

  16. I thoroughly enjoyed reading table for eight. I found the characters very intriguing and it kept me interested reading how their stories unfolded. It was an easy read I loved how they all become friends even though they lead different lives off the cruise ship. The author has a gift for making you feel as if you are on the ship or on the islands they visit whether it’s swimming under a waterfall or souvenir shopping. I would highly recommend this book. ✨

  17. Thank you Beauty and Lace and HQ fiction for the chance to read this heartwarming novel by Tricia Stringer. I have not ready anything by this author before and I liked her style of being able to relate all characters to each other in a meaningful and honest way. I enjoyed Kitty the most, the protagonist who is on a voyage before some serious life changes but sees good in others and is trying to help, even if her ‘help’ may sometimes be seen as meddling! . There are some characters I think I would rather fell overboard but it takes all kinds and maybe there is a lesson there for me!
    I have been on a few short cruises before, certainly not one as luxurious as this one and makes me want to have a serious holiday.

  18. Thank you for the opportunity to read “Table for Eight”, by Tricia Stringer. This couldn’t have come at a better time – I read the book before, during and after a 10-night cruise (my first ever) from Sydney to the South Pacific Islands! I had hoped to finish the book whilst actually cruising, but, as the author clearly details, holidaying on a cruise ship can lead to days full of activities and far less reading time than expected. As a result, reading the book transported me back to my holiday and, although the ship featured in the novel, The Diamond Duchess, is fictional, I felt as if I could picture every detail and visualise every experience.

    In addition to relishing the descriptions of the cruising life, I also loved getting to know the novel’s varied characters. The book centres around Ketty, a mature-aged business owner who relishes learning about her fellow travellers, with a view to lending a nurturing hand when necessary. Ketty is well practised in this, having cruised many times, and she quickly develops an interest in the life stories of those seated at her table in the dining room. Tricia Stringer expertly crafts each character, creating fully-rounded individuals with realistic histories and issues.

    “Table for Eight” is the first novel by Tricia Springer that I have read and it is an absolute delight. The co-incidence of the timing and the sheer delight of reading such a beautifully-written, character-rich story ensure that it will stay with me into the future. I’m certainly going to seek out more books by Tricia Stringer.

  19. Oh I loved Table of Eight!

    I felt like I was on a cruise ship reading this book. I felt like I needed a holiday, actually it made me go book a cruise.

    Tricia always writes a fabulous book.

    Thanks Beiaty and lace

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