Saturday, March 1, 2014

Alice's Review: Bread and Butter

Author: Michelle Wildgen
Series: No
Publication Date: February 11, 2014
Publisher: Doubleday
Pages: 336
Obtained: Publisher via Netgalley
Genre: Literature - Family Life
Rating: 4/5
Bottom Line: For foodies who like a little heart in their novels.
Grab, Just get it at the library, or Remove from your TBR list? Just get it at the library
Summary: Britt and Leo have spent ten years running Winesap, the best restaurant in their small Pennsylvania town. They cater to their loyal customers; they don't sleep with the staff; and business is good, even if their temperamental pastry chef is bored with making the same chocolate cake night after night. But when their younger brother, Harry, opens his own restaurant — a hip little joint serving an aggressive lamb neck dish — Britt and Leo find their own restaurant thrown off-kilter. Britt becomes fascinated by a customer who arrives night after night, each time with a different dinner companion. Their pastry chef, Hector, quits, only to reappear at Harry's restaurant. And Leo finds himself falling for his executive chef — tempted to break the cardinal rule of restaurant ownership. Filled with hilarious insider detail — the one-upmanship of staff meals before the shift begins, the rivalry between bartender and hostess, the seedy bar where waitstaff and chefs go to drink off their workday — Bread and Butter is both an incisive novel of family and a gleeful romp through the inner workings of restaurant kitchens.

Review:  Bread and Butter centers on three brother, each in the restaurant business.  Britt and Leo are owners of the established Winesap while youngest brother and prodigal son Harry returns to throw his hat in the business as well.  What ensues is drama that rivals any Chick Lit novel.  Actually, this novel reads a lot like Chick Lit even though the three main characters are men.

Each brother has likeable characteristics and each carries a very different story line.  Of the three, I like Leo the best.  He’s the stable brother, the one the others turn to for comfort and acceptance.  Britt is the charming one.  And Harry is the fun brother.  I enjoyed getting to know each of them.  I also enjoyed the restaurant setting.  Having worked in the business, I feel that Ms. Wildgen shows an accurate portrayal of what goes on behind the swinging doors.   She placed these characters in realistic situations.

What I found most interesting is that in writing the review, I had to adjust my rating.  The more I thought about it, the more I realized there were many hidden gems that I didn’t pick up while I was reading Bread and Butter.  I didn’t expect for it to be the kind of novel that I wanted to discuss and I sure do.  I want to know what others thought of the trials the three brothers faced.  Mostly I want to talk about the surprising romance that carried me through the novel.  I would love to discuss how we never know what demons others are facing, even when those others are our own flesh and blood.  I think Bread and Butter would make a perfect book club book.   

I do have one complaint.  I am of the school that believes why use a $10 word when a nickel word works just fine.    Bread and Butter is a $10 word novel.  At times, it comes across as pretentious and impersonal.  However, when she sets down her dictionary and gets out of her own way, Ms. Wildgen writes so beautifully that she makes lamb neck bones sound delicious and something I would love to try.

I recommend this novel but it’s definitely a borrow book. While not as hilarious as promised in the description, this is a great read if you are a foodie and love family drama as it has the perfect mixture of both.



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