The Recipe Box
by Viola Shipman
Published by Thomas Dunne Books
Publication Date March 20, 2018
Genres: Clean Romance, Fiction
Setting: Michigan Contemporary
Main Character Ages: 18-24
Written for: Adults
Bestselling, beloved author of The Charm Bracelet spins a tale about a lost young woman and the family recipe box that changes her life.
Growing up in northern Michigan, Samantha "Sam" Mullins felt trapped on her family's orchard and in their pie shop, so she left with dreams of making her own mark in the world. But life as an overworked, undervalued sous chef at a reality star's New York bakery is not what Sam dreamed.
When the chef embarrasses Sam, she quits and returns home. Unemployed, single, and defeated, she spends a summer working on her family's orchard cooking and baking alongside the women in her life--including her mother, Deana, and grandmother, Willo. One beloved, flour-flecked, ink-smeared recipe at a time, Sam begins to learn about and understand the women in her life, her family's history, and her passion for food through their treasured recipe box.
As Sam discovers what matters most she opens her heart to a man she left behind, but who now might be the key to her happiness.
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Soulful, nostalgic, searching, hopeful. These are some of the adjectives that went through my mind as I read The Recipe Box. I laughed out loud at parts and was touched and thoughtful in others. This story is full of heritage and family. Although I indicated the time period to be “Contemporary”, it spans many generations. It is not a saga, but is full of snippets from the lives of the matriarchs of Sam’s family.
I loved the way the author wove the history into the present day. She managed to go into the past and back to the present without making the story feel disjointed, giving enough detail to draw you in and get you invested. There were recipes included as well, and each one played a part in the narrative.
My dear friend, Chris, is from Michigan, and I hear her talk about it all the time. After reading The Recipe Box, I really get it. Author Viola Shipman has caused me to fall in love with a place and a lifestyle I have never experienced.
The characters in the story were wonderful. The women had rich wisdom to share. The men were strong and steady. Angelo was charming and delightful. Conner was unexpectedly sweet. Chef Dimples was … Well, let’s just say that he was and let you find out what he was.
Though there were many parts of the book that I loved, I think my favorites were the parts where Sam’s dad talked about the day he decided to not leave Michigan to be an engineer and the ending. I won’t give anything away here, but do want to say that the way the author tied everything up here was masterful.
“Every character in every romantic movie and book always falls in love,” DeDe said, as she returned to chopping apples. “But you know the thing about falling? It usually hurts. The nice thing is to walk into love, to be best friends with someone, to want to wake up knowing they’re the best thing about your day. Then when you fall, you realize it happened in slow motion.”