I shared on Instagram yesterday what I’ve found I often do right after a finish an amazing book.
I did this exact thing with the book I just finished, Lizzy & Jane by Katherine Reay (Thomas Nelson, 2014).
Elizabeth Hughes is a top-notch chef with her own restaurant in New York City. However, she’s now experiencing lack of luster and numerous mistakes in her previously inspired cooking. When her boss gives her the chance to rest and recover, Elizabeth flies to her former home in Seattle for the first time in 15 years to visit her sister, Jane, who is battling the same cancer their mother had. Jane and Elizabeth have never gotten along and tensions are tight. Elizabeth works to find out how to reinvigorate her cooking and restore broken relationships and find a sense of herself.
For more about the book, read here.
This book is pretty spectacular. Told in first person (past tense) from Elizabeth’s perspective, we see and hear what other characters are wrestling with as well as Elizabeth’s own internal dialogue.
Cooking remains a physical reality as well as a symbol throughout the whole book, and the cooking analogies are fantastic, like this one on page 13:
“He had an easy way about him that brought him into the group seamlessly, like egg whites whipped to perfection, just shy of that single beat that hardened them. I felt a twinge of jealous—I was that single beat. I didn’t blend into the life of my own kitchen.”
Katherine Reay sets up multiple conflicts immediately in the first chapter between Elizabeth’s perception of herself, the kitchen environment, conflicts with her boss and reviewers, and more. In fact, the book remains very serious and conflict-filled (and emotional) for the first several chapters. All in good ways, but tough, too. I started physically smiling in reaction to events more about Chapter 10. At first, I wondered if that made the beginning too tough, but upon finishing the book, I know it needed to be that way. That’s how Elizabeth felt and had lived for so long. We needed to feel that too to get a better sense of her and her change.
I wrote down several quotes I don’t think I’ll be forgetting the feeling of for quite some time. This book definitely qualifies as one of those books that make you think and feel, which are my favorite in novels. With themes covering imperfect faith, grace, broken families, cancer and its effects, good out of pain, purpose and worth in life, marriage, sibling relationships, and more, it reaches deep.
“Perspective can change everything.”
And, of course, there are the numerous (appropriate and entertaining) Austen references that Katherine Reay is often known for. I particularly love how she weaved the importance and impact of literature into this book.
There is a romantic thread through this book, but the book remains focused more on sibling relationships, real love (not just romantic love), and finding out what to rely on. I highly recommend giving this one a read.
What book have you read recently that made you pause and think and feel?
Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers program in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own. I was not compensated in any other way.
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