A Table by the Window — A Novel of Family Secrets and Heirloom Recipes by Hillary Manton Lodge
About This Book
Heirloom recipes, family secrets…and a chance for love
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?
I loved so many things about this book. The family dynamic is outstanding, and their love for food is outmatched only by their love for each other. This book revolves around both food and family, and it is packed with excellent tips and recipes. The recipes feel very relaxed and honest, i.e. “This can take a bit, so have handy a book or your phone or your child or something,” or “Add some heavy cream (or don’t, if you prefer).” Each chapter begins with a quote from someone famous in the food world, whether it be Julia Child, James Beard, Anthony Bourdain, or Nora Ephron. The quotes are one of my very favorite parts of the book, and I found myself looking forward to each new chapter just to see the next quote! One of my favorites is this statement by the legendary James Beard, “Food is our common ground, a universal experience.” A Table by the Window includes a family history mystery, a bit of romance, family drama, and a lot of food. Family heritage is a strong theme throughout the story. While this book isn’t focused on spirituality, God is apparent in the story. The religious aspect feels very realistic, not over or under done, and I appreciate the seriousness with which the topic is approached. There are little things throughout the story that made me smile, including but not limited to the mention of one of my favorite movies, Stranger Than Fiction, and a recipe for a big part of the movie, Bavarian Sugar Cookies. I also really liked the mention of Ellie Holcomb (singer) and the details we are given when Juliette is getting ready for her date: we find out what makeup she puts on! The only thing I don’t love about this book is the way it ends. I think it deserves a stronger conclusion. Everything is not resolved, which is fine, but I feel like the story just got cut in half. There’s an excerpt of the sequel at the end, and it picks up exactly where this one leaves off…exactly as in the same conversation. I’m not sure how I feel about this yet. I think there may have been a better way to end this book and start the next. That being said, the sequel offers a promising plot and I very much look forward to reading it.
My favorite lines from A Table by the Window:
“…echoes are the loudest in empty spaces.”
“After a good dinner, one can forgive anybody, even one’s relatives.” –Oscar Wilde
“But I really love writing about food. The way I see it, you can spend hours—days, even—preparing a meal. You eat, you enjoy, but ultimately it’s gone and you’re left with the memories. I like to write about food to preserve it, to remember the experience. I think that writing about a meal makes it last forever.”
If you like reading stories about family and food, this book is definitely for you. However, I would also recommend this book to anyone who enjoys good fiction. A Table by the Window is engaging, well written, and honest. Don’t miss it!
You can read the first chapter (including a recipe) of A Table by the Window here!
The author created a Pinterest board for the book here!
Praise for A Table by the Window
“Food writer Juliette D’Alisa adores her temperamental, trilingual family of restaurateurs, but she could do without their bossy skepticism of her online love interest who’s so unlike them. Rainy, windy Portland has never felt quite as warm as it does when Juliette navigates long-distance romance, career decisions, and a genealogical mystery. A delectable tale from Hillary Manton Lodge, A Table by the Window includes recipes that are like a warm welcome to the D’Alisa family table.”
—Meg Moseley, author of Gone South and When Sparrows Fall
“Warm, witty, and a culinary delight! Hillary Manton Lodge’s crisp writing reminds me of a vintage romantic comedy but with contemporary appeal as the story unfolds with perfect pacing and recipes to make you drool. More than once I found myself wishing I had a pastry chef in my own kitchen. Wonderfully romantic in all the best ways!”
—Carla Stewart, award-winning author of Chasing Lilacs and Sweet Dreams
“Not since Under the Tuscan Sun have I read a book that I both tasted and felt to such an enchanting degree. Author Hillary Manton Lodge has woven a captivating tale of one woman’s quest to discover not only herself, but the truths behind an old-world family legacy. With a touch of whimsy, the perfect helping of romance, and a hearty sprinkle of laugh-out-loud humor, A Table by the Window is a delight.”
—Joanne Bischof, award-winning author of the Cadence of Grace series
“An endearing, smart, must-read novel! A Table by the Window is a delicious tale that had me slowing down so I could savor it longer. Major props to Hillary Manton Lodge for not only taking me on a beautiful journey alongside Juliette, but for making a non-foodie like myself want to take up a new hobby.”
—Katie Ganshert, award-winning author of Wildflowers from Winter and Wishing on Willows
“Hillary Manton Lodge combines a perfect voice, endearing characters, and delectable recipes into a heart-winning story. A Table by the Window hooked me from the first page to the very last word. Bravo, Hillary!”
—Leslie Gould, best-selling and Christy Award–winning author