A Place at the Table
Sarah Smiley’s memoir chronicles the delights of hosting Bangor’s most notable citizens for dinner, fifty-two weeks in a row.
The lasagna was still in the oven when Senator Susan Collins arrived at the Smiley residence in Bangor on January 3, 2012. Sarah Smiley — writer, mother, and Navy wife — stood nervously inside with her three sons. That evening marked the start of an experiment: a plan to fill the seat left at the dinner table when husband Dustin departed for a yearlong deployment in Djibouti. Senator Collins was the first invitee, and she did more than just accept the offer: She brought homemade brownies.
That year, the family entertained an array of dinner guests from the Bangor community, including police chief Ron Gastia and former governor John Baldacci. Fifty-two meals later, Dinner with the Smileys: One Military Family, One Year of Heroes, and Lessons for a Lifetime (Hyperion Press, New York; hardcover; 368 pages; $22.99) was born.
The reunited Smileys have since appeared on the Katie Couric show and the cover of Parade. “The book isn’t about the military. Or dinner,” Smiley says. “It’s about community. I’ve fallen in love with this state and plan to never leave it.”