A Table by the Window
Hillary Manton Lodge
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?
The reason I don't normally like contemporary fiction is because I never agree with the "modern" worldview of the characters, and I can't really say this book was an exception to that, as there were a few differences in our beliefs (this was mostly with dating, and later kissing.) However, it was never horribly offensive, and you know what? Overall, I really, really liked this book. It was modern, but had an almost vintage feel to it- a fact reinforced by the black-and-white cover, perhaps.
The recipes at the end of each chapter sounded delicious- seriously, the Nutella Mousse recipe was so beautiful I thought I was going to cry. (That's only a slight exaggeration. But it was enough to drool over.) I felt like the characters could be a bit food snobbish sometimes, but given their background, it was understandable. But the plot was really fun and interesting, if a bit laid back. I loved, loved, loved the French/ Italian heritage of Juliette, and since I'm currently taking French it was fun to try and pick out all the French phrases I knew :)
There could have been a bit more of an overt Christian message; the characters, for the most part acted in a Christian-like, godly way, but other than a few mentions of going to church and praying, I wouldn't say it felt "Christian" unless you compared its fundamental worldview to that of other secular books.
Juliette was really likable, and even more remarkable, so was her love interest, Neil. (What can I say? He made Juliette watch Doctor Who. There's a keeper right there.) Even though the lifestyles of the characters were so different than my own, I still found them relatable (especially Juliette) and I honestly loved nearly every bit of this book- and though the ending was a bit abrupt, I can deal with it knowing that there's a sequel forthcoming. One I am quite sure I'll be reading!
objectionable content: as I mentioned before, there are several (undescriptive) kisses in the last third of the book.
I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.