Monday, January 5, 2015

Lizzy & Jane by Katherine Reay

Lizzy & Jane by Katherine Reay

This is no light read, though the cover seems a bit playful (or zany). Still, the author does mix in some humor. Again, as with her first book, you’ll find literary references that will delight Austen fans.

Let’s begin with the summary: 

Sometimes the courage to face your greatest fears comes only when you've run out of ways to escape.

At the end of a long night, Elizabeth leans against the industrial oven and takes in her kingdom. Once vibrant and flawless, evenings in the kitchen now feel chaotic and exhausting. She's lost her culinary magic, and business is slowing down.

When worried investors enlist the talents of a tech-savvy celebrity chef to salvage the restaurant, Elizabeth feels the ground shift beneath her feet. Not only has she lost her touch; she's losing her dream.

And her means of escape.

When her mother died, Elizabeth fled home and the overwhelming sense of pain and loss. But fifteen years later, with no other escapes available, she now returns. Brimming with desperation and dread, Elizabeth finds herself in the unlikeliest of places, by her sister’s side in Seattle as Jane undergoes chemotherapy.

As her new life takes the form of care, cookery, and classic literature, Elizabeth is forced to reimagine her future and reevaluate her past. But can a New York City chef with a painful history settle down with the family she once abandoned . . . and make peace with the sister who once abandoned her?

And now, my review:

This is a story of sisters and life-and-death struggles. A novel that will make readers think about their lives. For those who’ve undergone cancer treatment, perhaps they’ll relate with and see themselves in these characters.

I’m seeing a lot of foodie books lately, and this was one. You’ll get hungry while you read. And I love the premise that this expert may be able to use her gifts to help her sister. Still, there’s so much going on beneath the surface of this story.

The secondary characters stood out to me—especially the nurse. Well written. I liked that this story was written in first person, though I did feel a little bit blind to the other characters’ perspectives as I read.

Dear Mr. Knightley, this author’s first book, was one of my favorites.  Here again, Katherine uses great descriptions and writes strong characters. I wasn’t sure what to expect with this title and I prefer romance, but I did read to the end to see how things would turn out. I liked that our heroine needed to find her true calling, to find a fulfilling dream. And I enjoyed the banter between her and Nick (one of the secondary characters).

Abandonment is a theme, as is facing the past and reconciling with family. These are not light topics. I believe readers who are looking for a family story will find plenty to love about this novel.

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