Friday 11 August 2023

Book ~ "Recipe for a Good Life" (2023) Lesley Crewe

From Goodreads ~ On paper, Kitty’s life is perfect. She lives in Montreal, so vibrant in the 1950s; she married her childhood sweetheart, who happens to also be a handsome movie star; and her detective novels, written under a plausibly male nom de plume, are bestsellers. 

But Kitty is suffocating under the truth of her life: Montreal feels chaotic and lonely without her mother, and with her father all but estranged. Her husband is a glib Lothario. And she never, ever wants to write another detective novel. When she says as much to her publishers, they panic. She’s their golden goose. And so they convince her to go on a writing retreat to a beautiful remote island, Cape Breton, where with solitude and a luxurious change of scenery, she’ll be able to whip up her next book. At least, that was the plan.

Kitty arrives in Cape Breton to a leaky, drafty shack and a cast of characters unlike anyone she’s ever met. There’s Edith, who listens in on everyone’s party line calls and never keeps good gossip to herself; generous Bertha and her enormous family ... and Bertha’s son, Wallace - Walrus, to all his nieces and nephews. A gentle giant who always has half a dozen children hanging off him. Soon Kitty’s writing retreat turns her life upside down and she has to face which parts of her life are non-negotiable and which she must cut loose. 

Can she preserve what she loves in Montreal now that Cape Breton is calling? If she frees herself from the weight of her past, will she float away altogether?

It's 1955 and Kitty is a successful author in her thirties living in Montreal. She's married to a philandering actor who is away working more than he is home. Her mother passed away when she was seven and her father is distant. Kitty has written a series of detective books under an assumed male name and doesn't think she can write any more. Knowing she needs a break, her publisher rents a cabin for her in rural Cape Breton as a writing retreat to get away. She knows nothing about Cape Breton but she and her dog head out for a few months. When she arrives at the cabin, it's basically a  rundown shack in the middle of nowhere. But as she gets used to the rustic cabin and meets her friendly neighbours, it's hard for her to leave. Back in Montreal, she realizes how unfulfilling her life there is and sets out for fix it.

I liked this story and the characters.  I enjoyed the writing style ... it's written in third person perspective in various voices including Kitty's, depending on where the focus was.  The story is set in Homeville (where the author settled and raised a family), not far from Glace Bay, where my maternal family is from. Some of the last names of the characters are in my family tree ... Ferguson, Murrant, Peach, Wadden, etc. I spent my teen years in Cape Breton and it was nice to read a book about people from "back home" with their sayings, foods, mannerisms, etc.

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