Saturday, October 10, 2015

"a table by the window" by hillary manton lodge

A little over a year ago, several bloggers that I follow were absolutely raving about A Table by the Window. I immediately added it to my wishlist, and when I had the opportunity to get the second book in the series for review, I went ahead and bought A Table by the Window. It turned out to be even better than I'd hoped!

The youngest heir to a French-Italian restaurant dynasty, food writer Juliette D’Alisa has spent her life negotiating her skill with 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?

After the death of her grandmother, Juliette discovers an antique photograph of a man who looks strikingly like her brother. As the truth behind the picture reveals romance and dark secrets, Juliette struggles to keep the mystery away from her nosy family until she can uncover the whole story. 

Inspired by her grandmother’s evolving story, Juliette resolves to explore the world of online dating. To her surprise, she finds a kindred spirit in Neil McLaren, a handsome immunologist based in Memphis, Tennessee. With a long-distance relationship simmering, Juliette faces life-shifting decisions. How can she possibly choose between a promising culinary life and Neil, a man a world away in more ways than one? And is it possible her Grandmother’s story can help show the way?

Oh, my goodness. I could say so many great things about this book! It wasn't quite what I was expecting, but it was fabulous. I loved how it was a romance, but it was more about Juliette's life. Romance fit into it, but it wasn't the only thing. In fact, because Juliette and Neil have a long-distance relationship, he has a fairly minor role in the novel. Sure, he's present through emails, phone calls, and a visit, but overall, the novel focuses on Juliette, her job, and her family. To use food terms, Juliette's life in Portland is the cake, and the romance is the icing on top. (Wow, that was kinda cheesy ... but I stand by it!)

Packed into this novel is family drama, heartbreak, mystery, and romance. But I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the recipes! Several chapters end with absolutely mouthwatering recipes (usually something Juliette has cooked in the preceding chapter and often a recipe from her grandmother), and I would love to try them all someday. (Of course, most are packed with gluten, which isn't an option for me—I may have to get creative!)

I could very easily identify with Juliette—especially her feelings toward online dating and her desire yet hesitance to pursue her passions. Though Juliette is well into adulthood, this novel is almost a coming of age story as she comes into her own both personally and professionally.

A Table by the Window is one of those rare books that I absolutely couldn't put down—I read it in one afternoon. I loved Juliette's journey, her family is great, and Neil is fantastic. This is easily one of the best books I've read this year! 5 stars.

Buy the book.

Hillary Manton Lodge is the author of Plain Jayne, a Carol Award Finalist, and Simply Sara, an ECPA bestselling book. A graduate of the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism, Hillary discovered the world of cuisine during her internship at Northwest Palate magazine. A storyteller at heart, in her free time she enjoys experimenting in the kitchen, watching foreign films, and exploring new walking trails. She and her husband live in Portland, Oregon.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I purchased this book myself and chose to review it. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Also, some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase an item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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