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RESERVATIONS FOR TWO by HILLARY MANTON LODGE REVIEWED


Reservations For Two
By Hillary Manton Lodge
Published by Waterbrook
ISBN#978-0-307-73177-7
304 Pages

Back Cover: A culinary concoction of taking chances and finding love in the most delectable places

Food writer-turned-restaurateur Juliette D’Alisa has more than enough on her plate. While her trip to Provence might have unlocked new answers to her grandmother’s past, it’s also provided new complications in the form of Neil McLaren, the man she can’t give up.

Juliette and Neil find romance simple as they travel through Provence and Tuscany together, but life back home presents a different set of challenges. Juliette has a restaurant to open, a mother combating serious illness, and a family legacy of secrets to untangle – how does Neil, living so far away in Memphis, fit into to her life?

As she confronts an uncertain future, Juliette can’t help but wish that life could be as straightforward as her chocolate chip cookie recipe. Can her French grandmother’s letters from the 1940’s provide wisdom to guide her present? Or will every new insight create a fresh batch of mysteries?

REVIEW: I was thrilled to receive a review copy of Reservations for Two; the sequel to A Table by the Window; a novel I adored.  I liked how this story starts right where the other left off.  Neil McLaren and Juliette D,Alisa are in France visiting family and tracking down the identity of a man in a picture Juliette found amongst her Grand-mere’s belongings.  This couple has fun in Paris and uncovers a treasure. It’s a box filled with her Grand-mere’s old letters written during 1938-1939. Thrilled at their discovery in France they head to Italy for her Grandpa’s 80th birthday bash. Juliette says to Neil, “Of course I want you there. Are you sure you’re ready for sixty-two Italians fueled up on espresso and cake?”

“You know I’m only in it for the cake.”

After the family meets Neil Juliette’s they give her a little advice, “…Well, if you marry him, think of having him sign a pre-nup promising not to give up linguini. He might---What is he?”
“A research Immunologist…Neil does medical research, and to hear him talk about it, he eats macaroni like it’s going out of style.”

Sophie snorted, “Give it ten years and he’ll give it all up and start picking out Paleo recipes from magazines.”

This author has skillfully interlaced heart-felt letters Juliette’s Grand-mere wrote to her younger sister, Cecilia; while she was attending pastry school in France. These letters add depth of emotion and creates a rich plot twist to Juliette’s family history as these letters were written during Hitler’s reign. Juliette had fun reading Mireilee’s - (her Grand-mere) experiences in pastry school as the war heated up in France.

This author does a great job of keeping the suspense and drama flourishing in both story lines. Yes, I was up late reading and wondering what else Juliette would discover about her family past and present; and how the opening of the new restaurant would go. I really liked Juliette and sympathized with her in how these surprises were affecting all she had known about their family history.

This book has yummy recipes (fourteen in all) sprinkled throughout the novel. I loved the fact that when they mentioned a dish in the book they had the recipe at the end of the chapter. The first recipes I want to try are Meyer Lemon Spaghetti, Double Chocolate Chip Cookies; and Soothing Strawberry Ice Cream (they all sound so good!)

I loved the quotes from different Chef’s at the beginning of each chapter; a few of my favorites are first by Roger Verge –“A cook is creative, marrying ingredients in the way a poet marries words” Julia Child said, “One of the secrets, and pleasures, of cooking is to learn to correct something if it goes awry; and one of the lessons is to grin and bear it if it cannot be fixed.” Love that!

I liked how the author brought everyone up to speed on events and people so you wouldn't be lost in reading this book if you hadn't read the first.You’ll want to read book one to really get to know Neil, Juliette, and this entertaining cast of supporting characters that reminded me of some found on the T.V. series Cheers, (where everyone knows your name).  I read book one but it was a while ago so I was glad for the reminders. There is a third and final book to this series titled Two Blue Doors; it will be out May 2016. I’m looking forward to reading how this all works out. You will too!

This novel has ten discussion questions to help create lively discussion with your group and there are so many yummy recipes you can make for that special meeting night. This novel is great for a book club pick there is so much to discuss. Yes it’s a book to read just for fun too! It’s a keeper!

Nora St Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins! www.bookfun.org
The Book Club Network blog  www.psalm516.blogspot.com
Book Fun Magazine www.bookfunmagazine.com 

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