Some time ago, I discovered author Hillary Manton Lodge, with her novel A Table by the Window. I knew that Juliette D’Alisa’s story was not over yet as I completed that book, and I waited with great anticipation for the next installment about the D’Alisa family, who are gourmet chefs, gourmands, and restauranteurs. I was delighted when Reservations for Two was released…and even more delighted when I was able to read and review it!
Juliette is a woman who is, in many ways, caught between two worlds. She is opening a new restaurant along with her brother in Portland, after leaving her job as a food writer which she liked but didn’t really love. She has fallen in love with a doctor, Neil McLaren, whose research work keeps him in Memphis. And she is committed to uncovering the family mystery which she discovered when comparing a previously lost photo of a man who looks like her brother’s double; when her grandfather looked nothing like him at all. Who is this man, and how does he figure in Juliette’s family history?
Fortuitously, Juliette must travel to Europe on a buying trip for the new restaurant. She visits family in Provence and Tuscany, and unearths a large packet of letters between her grandmother and her great-aunt which detail parts of a woman’s life that Juliette had never known existed. There is a mystery there….and Juliette is determined to uncover it.
There’s much more going on around her, though, and finding time to read the letters and investigate those who people them is difficult. Juliette’s mother is terribly ill. The restaurant is preparing to open. There’s a man in Portland who’s interested in her. And she’s extremely worried about how she’s going to make her long-distance relationship with Neil work. Lots of challenges before her….with outcomes that will influence not only her life and her work, but her family.
Hillary Manton Lodge is a meticulous writer, who can handle the many story lines capably. Her characters, on both sides of the world, are fascinating and in many ways, will capture your heart. Juliette’s current life, and the life of her grandmother as told in letters, are engrossing and captivating. And there’s another delight to this book; since it’s about gourmets and gourmands, of course food is mentioned and discussed. And the the most delightful of these recipes are taken by the author, and placed between chapters! I definitely found some I wanted to attempt…that have roots in Continental cooking but are updated for the current day and for the gourmand American palate.
Read Hillary Manton Lodge‘s Reservations for Two and A Table by the Window. Then, like me, you’ll be anxiously waiting for the third book in the “Two Blue Doors” series!
I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.