Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Lizzy & Jane: A Novel (Book Review)

Disclosure:  I received an ebook copy of this title, at no cost to me, for review purposes.

From the publisher:
Lizzy and Jane never saw eye to eye. But when illness brings them together, they discover they may be more like Austen's famous sisters after all.

Lizzy was only a teenager when her mother died of cancer. Shortly after, Lizzy fled from her home, her family, and her cherished nickname. After working tirelessly to hone her gift of creating magic in the kitchen, Elizabeth has climbed the culinary ladder to become the head chef of her own New York restaurant, Feast. But as her magic begins to elude her, Paul, Feast's financial backer, brings in someone to share her responsibilities and her kitchen. So Elizabeth flees again.

In a desperate attempt to reconnect with her gift, Elizabeth returns home. But her plans are derailed when she learns that her estranged sister, Jane, is battling cancer. Elizabeth surprises everyone-including herself-when she decides to stay in Seattle and work to prepare healthy, sustaining meals for Jane as she undergoes chemotherapy. She also meets Nick and his winsome son, Matt, who, like Elizabeth, are trying to heal from the wounds of the past.

As she tends to Jane's needs, Elizabeth's powers begin to return to her, along with the family she left behind so long ago. Then Paul tries to entice her back to New York, and she is faced with a hard decision: stay and become Lizzy to her sister's Jane, or return to New York and the life she worked so hard to create?
When we meet Elizabeth at the start of Lizzy & Jane, written by Katherine Reay, she is working as head chef at Feast, her own restaurant in New York City.  However, she's struggling:  even though her food is technically excellent, it's missing the extra touch that makes it special.  Paul, the financial backer of Feast, hires a well-known chef to bring in new guests.  Now Elizabeth is not only struggling with her cooking, but also in jeopardy of losing her job to "the new guy."

When her roommate suggests that she go away for a few days, Elizabeth decides to go home to the West Coast.  It's challenging for her, because she's been emotionally distant from both her father and her sister Jane for years.

Then Elizabeth learns that Jane has cancer and is undergoing chemotherapy.  Jane's appetite is nearly non-existent, and the lack of sustenance is weakening her fight against cancer.  Elizabeth, nicknamed "Lizzy" by her family, gives it a few tries before she finds a way to make food that's palatable to Jane.  Meanwhile, she's going to chemo with Jane, meeting new people, and redeveloping family relationships.  And then ... well, you'll have to read the book to find out. :)

As I've mentioned in the past, I like fiction that's food-centered, and this book did not disappoint in that respect.  I enjoyed reading about the goings-on at Feast, about Elizabeth's cooking techniques, and about the way she learned to use her skills to bless her sister.  While food is a prominent part of the book, relationships are at the core of the story.

I'm not very familiar with the works of Jane Austen, so most of the literary references in Lizzy & Jane were lost on me.  However, I do understand the power of a good book, so I could relate to it in that way.

Lizzy & Jane was a fun book for me.  It's well-written and well-paced, neither drawn out nor too fast to follow.  The relationships and the interactions are realistic.  I appreciated the emotions, especially of Jane as a cancer patient and of those who love her.  We never really know that until we've been there.  And I thought I knew how the story would end, but a surprise kept me guessing.

If you like fiction that's food-related and centered on realistic relationships, I recommend Lizzy & Jane.

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1 comment :

  1. that sounds like a pretty good book... a what to do if you were in their shoes thing...
    Glad you shared.
    Hope you are having a great week

    ReplyDelete

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