Life for Juliette has not been easy. She recently lost her grandmother, who left behind hints of a secret life. Her mother is battling cancer. Now Juliette is faced with the prospect of leaving her job as a food writer to open a restaurant – for the second time — with her brother, Nico. To complicate life even further, she’s met Neil, a handsome immunologist who lives on the other side of the country.
To cope with her ever-challenging world, Juliette cooks, and since she’s the youngest daughter of a restaurant dynasty family, it’s a natural fit. This cooking benefits not only Juliette as she sorts through her life, but also the reader who is generously blessed with scrumptious descriptions of Italian and French dishes. Each chapter ends with Juliette’s recipe written as if she’s sharing a cup of fine French coffee across the table from the reader.
The charm of Table by the Window by Hillary Manton Lodge is the easy and comfortable manner in which the story is told. As I read, I felt the warmth of Juliette’s character as well as the steady love of family even through the deepest of frustrations. Each character is interesting in a real-life way that makes the story believable. The dialogue is often witty yet totally conversational. For example, the interaction between Juliette and Neil, which are mostly in letter-form, are a perfect example of two people falling love via the written word.
This book was such a charming read that I treated myself to it twice. Both times I once again cheered for Juliette to find love and become a successful restaurateur. I pieced clues together to discover Grandmere’s secret and earnestly hoped for Juliette’s mother’s recovery. As a food lover, I devoured the gourmet recipes and decided I too could cook fancy French food. All around, Table by the Window gave me sweet moments of respite from my own complicated world — twice.
NOTE: Reservations for Two: A Novel of Fresh Flavors and New Horizons (Sequel to Table by the Window) is due out in April!