Monday, May 12, 2014

A Table by the Window

By Andrea Renee Cox

The cover of A Table by the Window instantly intrigued me. The black-and-white look balanced by the burgundy tones of the title and byline spoke of another time and place as well as adventure. The dreamy-eyed stare of the cover model, looking directly at the reader, made me wonder what secrets she held. Ever since I first saw this cover online, I’ve wanted to read the book.

Then I read the back cover copy. It brought an entirely new depth to my desire to read this book. Here’s the back cover copy. What do you think about it?

Every cook knows finding the right balance between savory and sweet is a tricky business.

The youngest heir to a French-Italian restaurant dynasty, food writer Juliette D’Alisa has spent her life negotiating her skill with both words and her restaurant aspirations. When her brother Nico offers her a chance to open a restaurant together, she feels torn—does she really have what it takes? Should she risk leaving her journalism career?

Sorting through her late grandmother’s belongings, Juliette discovers an antique photograph of a man who looks strikingly like her brother. As the truth behind the picture reveals romance and startling secrets, Juliette struggles to keep the mystery hidden from her nosy family until she can uncover the whole story.

Beginning a long-distance relationship with a Memphis-based immunologist just complicates Juliette’s life-shifting decisions. How can she possibly choose between a promising culinary career and a doctor whose life is worlds away from her own? Is it possible her grandmother’s past can help her move forward?

Hillary Manton Lodge crafted a beautiful story centered around the food the characters love creating, eating, and sharing with one another. This contemporary romance felt like it came from a different era. It also felt personal, like Juliette and Nico and the rest of their family were really good friends of mine. Maybe that’s because it’s written so eloquently in the first person. Or perhaps it’s because I was pulled into the tale right from the beginning. One of the things I particularly liked was the inclusion of some of the recipes of foods Juliette and her family and friends made in the chapters. I’d never seen recipes included within the text before, but it was a mark of ingenuity on the author’s part. Very nice touch.

My heart twisted at Juliette’s longing when I read this line in chapter one: “Restaurants may have been my first love, but that didn’t mean we were meant to be.” Oh, the anguish I felt for her in that moment! As her journey unfolded on the pages, I was tugged along very gently until suddenly I was fully engrossed in Juliette’s life. I kept whispering words of encouragement to her, and yes, I shared her tears. When a book grabs me so totally, that’s when I know I’ve been reading a masterpiece.

Thank you to WaterBrook Multnomah for the complimentary copy of A Table by the Window in exchange for my honest review.

Readers, since this book made me hungry, let’s talk food. What’s your favorite recipe? Do you prefer to fix it yourself or have someone else do the cooking? Have you ever found cooking to be therapeutic?

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