Two lonely women.
An unlikely friendship.
And one big life lesson: never be ashamed to ask for more . . .
After a major life upheaval on the eve of her 40th birthday, a reluctant Kate Parker finds herself volunteering at Lauderdale House for Exceptional Ladies. There she meets 97-year-old Cecily Finn. Cecily’s tongue is as sharp as her mind but she has lost her spark, simply resigning herself to the Imminent End.
Having no patience with Kate’s plight, Cecily prescribes her a self-help book with a difference – it’s a 1957 cookery manual, featuring menus for anything life can throw at ‘the easily dismayed’. Will Kate find a menu to help her recover from her broken heart? If Kate moves forward, might Cecily too?
The cookbook holds the secrets of Cecily’s own remarkable past, and the story of the love of her life. It will certainly teach Kate a thing or two.
So begins an unlikely friendship between two lonely and stubborn souls – one at the end of her life, one stuck in the middle – who come to show each other that food is for feasting, life is for living and the way to a man’s heart is . . . irrelevant!
I received a copy of this book from Bonnier Zaffre via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
The story of a lovely, yet unusual friendship between two women, one at the latter years of her life, the other at a crossroads, both are lonely, vulnerable and unhappy. Cecily the feisty ninety-seven years old deals with her unhappiness by withdrawing or criticising those around her, just for a reaction. Kate blames her own supposed inadequacies on herself, and accommodates the needs of others, at the expense of her own wellbeing.
Kate is dreading being forty. When Kate’s carefully nurtured, relationship with Nick and her job are threatened she falls apart spectacularly, blaming herself, and living on a diet of cigarettes, coffee and social alcohol to get her through the day. Volunteering brings her into Cecily’s realm, they are so different yet both at a time of their lives where nothing is as they want it. Kate’s dilemma gives Cecily a purpose.
Cecily gives Kate a cookery book, with pertinent life messages, it becomes the focus of their relationship, and the start of positive change for both of them.
The first few chapters of this story are so negative, you want to shake Kate out of her self-destructive cycle. I almost stopped reading, but when she meets Cecily the story’s positivity explodes and you are glad you persevered.
Well- written honest characters, a varied plot, especially with the flashbacks to Cecily’s life and a lovely balance of humour, poignancy and wit, making this a lovely reading experience.