I love Jane Austen novels – I’ve read several and have reread Pride and Prejudice multiple times. (It even made the list for our Reading Challenge last year.) But, I wouldn’t call myself a fangirl. I haven’t read all of her novels, and I’ve never ventured into the world of books based on her characters. I had read a couple reviews about Lizzy & Jane and was intrigued. It sounded like a good balance of stand-alone story peppered with Austen references.
Lizzy & Jane by Katherine Reay was the perfect post-Christmas book to read. It was light, entertaining and well-written. Reay quickly engaged me and it was a fast, fun read. The premise is typical fast-paced, career-minded New Yorker Elizabeth is stressed at work, and it’s beginning to show in the quality of the food she prepares at her restaurant, Feast. She refuses to learn about new marketing and social media strategies so her investor-friend brings in a popular chef to help. In the meantime, Elizabeth’s sister, Jane is in the midst of cancer treatments back in laid-back, family-friendly Seattle. Elizabeth takes a break from her restaurant to rediscover herself by cooking meals for Jane.
While the plot is somewhat cliche, the story is sweet and the Austen references are clever, if somewhat unrealistic. Perhaps it’s because I am not a creative foodie – I follow the recipes and enjoy the outcome of cooking more than the process itself. Elizabeth’s worldview and sensory experiences as a chef may be quite realistic but I didn’t connect with them. I enjoyed reading her process for creating recipes and finding the exact flavors needed for certain dishes, but more for the literary experience than because I could see myself thinking about that food in the same way.
All in all, I enjoyed Lizzy & Jane and it was a nice break from my usual fare of nonfiction books.
How do you cook? Are you a recipe-follower or do you enjoy kitchen creativity?
GIVEAWAY! I am giving away my copy of Lizzy & Jane. To enter, leave a comment about your favorite food to cook. I’ll randomly select a winner on Friday, January 9, 2014. (United States addresses only.)