Set in western Canada during the roaring nineteen eighties, “Grand Opening” is the tragi-comic tale of three men pursuing the dream of owning a restaurant.
Wayne Stevens is a near bankrupt entrepreneur looking for a second chance. Rene Lemieux is a hardened businessman seeking another conquest and more profits. Maurice Deshampes is a recovering alcoholic and chef, desperate to be a restaurateur. Together, they form a partnership that will change their lives in ways they did not imagine.
The launch of a new restaurant and an impetuous attempt to live out their dreams provides the backdrop for Grand Opening. An intricate cascade of fantasies, falsehoods, fabrications, lust, substance abuse, and cock-eyed optimism is served by the terse plot. A race for glory, seasoned with humor and drama inevitably unfolds.
It’s a wild ride to the Grand Opening.
I don’t know much about the “roaring” 80’s because I was just a baby but if this were any indication I would have to say it was more of a whimper. The story is told from an Omniscient point of view and had a direct timeline. The characters were likable enough. Other than that this story did not deliver for me. It just seemed to be bogged down in the tiniest of details that had me thinking “get to the point” already. Some things were described in detail more than once. I literally had to force myself to finish it so that my review would be complete, I mean it could have gotten better and surprised me at the end.
Well it did get a little more I interesting after one of the three partners left and what happened to him was a little more drastic than I had imagined, but though it was more exciting, it did not make me happy.
I don’t know about lust either. It seemed just talking about lust for a paragraph or two near the end of the book qualified as a backdrop of list. Nor do I think severe alcoholism qualified as a background of substance abuse.
Don’t get me wrong, it is an abused substance and one I personally detest, but the way it was put out there in the description made it seem like a more illicit drug like cocaine or something. I would say the plot was turse and that the characters were optimistic and hopeful, even if cautiously so. I did not find the least bit of humor within the drama, and it failed to meet my expectations.
A couple of things really got on my nerves. One was the dialect. I understand that it is set in French Canadian Quebec and characters are going to have accents but it was difficult to read. And the second, most bothersome, thing was the use of the word “tabernac!” The characters said this so much that I finally had to look the word up. Apparently it is a French Canadian expletive along the lines of “fuck” or “shit”! I ran a search for the word and it came up that it was used 115 times. The characters were these and brash but honestly it felt like the word was being used as a filler to create a higher word count.
“A wild ride” to the Grand Opening was more like a slow, dragging limp.
Sorry T.F. Pruden maybe next time.