Thursday, May 14, 2015

a place at the table

a place at the table
susan rebecca white
published 2013

Alice Stone is famous for the homemade Southern cuisine she serves at Cafe Andres and her groundbreaking cookbook, but her past is a mystery to all who know her.  Upon Alice's retirement, Bobby Banks, a young gay man ostracized by his family in Georgia, sets out to revive the aging cafe with his new brand of Southern cooking while he struggles with heartbreak like he's never known.  Seeking respite from the breakup of her marriage, weathly divorcee Amelia Brighton finds solace in the company and food at Cafe Andres, until a family secret comes to light in the pages of Alice's cookbook and threatens to upend her life.


That sums up what I felt about this book.  It was okay.  It didn't make me feel much of anything.  I wasn't astounded by secrets revealed (or really even a bit surprised).  I didn't fall in love with any of the characters (except maybe Bobby's grandmother) and I wasn't entirely happy with the ending.  But it wasn't a bad book.  It was easy to read and I did really enjoy Bobby's story.  Alice was interesting and mysterious, but the book really seemed to be about Bobby up until the last 5 chapters or so when she switches to Amelia who by then, I cared nothing about.

Maybe if the stories had been broken up more I would have been more invested in Amelia.  If we had switched around so that in the beginning we hear a bit from Alice, then Bobby then Amelia and then back to Alice and so on.  Instead, we start with Alice and her story is so shocking that you spend the rest of the book wondering where that's going to come in.  Then we move to Bobby and spend about 80% of the book reading about his life as a child, discovering his sexuality, his move to New York, falling in love, becoming a chef, etc.  So that by the time I got to Amelia I just didn't care about her.  She was no one to me.  I wanted to know what effect she would have on Bobby and what her purpose was for him.  I almost hated her just because she took the story away from Bobby who was infinitely more interesting that this whiny, bitchy woman.


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