About the Book:
Author: Hillary Manton Lodge
Source: Publisher provided galley
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Series: Table for Two Trilogy, book 2
Genre: Christian, Contemporary, Fiction
Published by: WaterBrook Press
Publication Date: April 2015
Rating: 5 out of 5
Review: Picking up where her story left off in A Table by the Window, newly minted restaurateur Juliette D’Alisa is currently basking in the sun and enjoying her extended family in their native land while travelling through Provence and Tuscany. What makes her trip even better is her love, Neil flying over to spend a whirlwind – and romantic, holiday with her. It’s a trip that only seems to cement their feelings after rocky beginnings. But all too soon, Juliette is back on solid ground and in Portland busily preparing for the opening of her restaurant Two Blue Doors, which she now manages along with her partner and brother, Nico. Back in reality, Juliette’s life changes – she learns something about her family tree she never expected and her relationship with Neil becomes complicated, and all while she begins to grow closer to someone else.
Though this story is told in first-person narrative – which can be difficult to relate to in my reading experience, there is natural ebb and flow to this story that isn’t achieved in similar proses. There are trials and triumphs, sorrow and smiles, and through it all, the heroine proves to be a woman we grow to admire. I have enjoyed Juliette’s character since first meeting and that doesn’t waver in book two. She’s faced with choices that break her heart and familial conflict that is anything but comfortable. She is struggling to come to a place of acceptance and it’s not putting her in the best of places. As usual, I love all of the other characters though feel at a disadvantage of knowing them considering its first-person. Still that in no way underestimates their importance or likability. I came to like some of these characters even more than I did before, swooned a time or two and developed a new respect and appreciation for another certain male character.
Aside from the food, which is again a pivotal part of the story – the characters are passionate about creating only the best, and the book includes recipes every few pages – the fascinating part of this novel is the mystery that backlights the present story. Through letters, Juliette unearths a piece of their family tree that no one can explain. Because of that, this reads like an old-fashioned love story as a result of the charm the love letters bring to an otherwise (equally delightful) very contemporary novel. Juliette’s research through the letters is an interesting way to honor the past and blend it (in this case, effortlessly) with the present of Juliette’s life and those around her.
I admire so much about this series, but putting it all down to words wouldn’t be possible nor would it do those who haven’t read the books any favors (there would be way too many spoilers). Suffice to say, two books into this series and it’s become one of my favorites. It’s charming and though it is set in our contemporary world, there are hints of vintage influences here and there. It’s a relevant and enjoyable read that is sure to tempt you – if not with its swoony romance, then certainly your taste buds.
This review originally appeared on Life Is Story. Sincere thanks to the publisher for a complimentary copy of this book.