The latest book I’ve read is “right up my alley” as some might say. It’s centered on a woman who has grown up in a culinary culture, her parents having owned a restaurant her entire life. (I have that in common – I’ve grown up in my family’s pizzeria.) With the additional elements of ethnic cultures, sibling relationships (rivalries and the closeness that comes with adulthood), and a little romance, this story made for a fun read that made my mouth water more than once.
In A Table by the Window by Hillary Manton Lodge, character Juliette D’Alisa leads an interesting life as the baby of a restaurant and food-centered, French-Italian family. With her parents’ well-established restaurant in Portland and her siblings’ work as chefs, culinary instructors, or other foodie careers, Juliette has settled for a coveted position as a food critic and writer for a local newspaper.
When presented with the opportunity to get back in the restaurant business with her brother Nico, Juliette must work out her unsettled feelings about her career path. At the same time, she is uncovering family secrets surrounding her grandmother’s life in France and developing a long-distance romantic relationship.
First of all, let me say I LOVE that Hillary has included several yummy recipes interspersed through the book. These recipes all make an appearance in the story, sometimes focal and sometimes simply mentioned. (I can’t wait for the chance to try some of these. My first experiment will probably be the Red Pepper Pasta.) Along with these recipes, I really enjoyed the foodie culture of the whole story. Also, fun little quotes related to food or cooking are featured at the start of each chapter. I typically enjoy the quote “element” when authors include it in a novel, and this one is no exception 🙂
This story is a little more family drama and a little less romance, but I still liked it. The drama is centered on Juliette’s work with her family and her uncertain career (though it takes a while for Juliette to see this), and the addition of family secrets and mystery is a nice side plot. Who doesn’t love some family genealogy digging? The romance is a bit unconventional (or should I say non-typical) being centered on an online relationship, but it picks up pace toward the middle of the story. Once you get to the end of the story and to Hillary’s acknowledgement section, you see similarities with her love story and the one in the book – that connection makes the story itself feel more real.
Just because I’m saying it’s a “drama” , don’t think it’s all seriousness. There are great bits of humor – especially in Juliette’s exchanges with her lively siblings. It was definitely easy to read. I was eager to see what decisions Juliette would make next (and what recipe would be at the end of that chapter).
One thing I would have liked to have seen more of was Juliette’s faith and how it actively played out in her life. You sees bits of this, but I personally prefer a little bit more from this genre. That’s my only problem with it, and it’s a minor one. This story did have strong themes of the strength of family, pursuing dreams, and wanting to be the person God intends for you to be.
At the end of the story, some things are left partially unresolved, but that’s ok with me because it’s a series! I can’t wait to see what Juliette dares to do next – and what D’Alisa family antics will unfold. I like that it’s a series following one main character. There are too few of these types in this genre. The next book in this “Table for Two” series is Reservations for Two.
Visit Hillary’s website here for more info – and some special book extras, like a quiz and recipes!
Note: Thank you to the publisher for a complimentary copy in exchange for a review! I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group through the Blogging for Books program for this review. I was not required to write a positive review.