Sunday, January 18, 2015

Lizzy & Jane by Katherine Reay

I really liked this novel.

Lizzy is the chef of a fancy restaurant in New York. But it's been in decline and the owner brings in a name chef to help. Lizzy struggles and at the suggestion of her associate, decides to take some time away. She visits her sister Jane who is in the exhaustive regimen of chemotherapy. The sisters have a rough time as there is much in their past and present they need to work through.

I really liked that Lizzy and Jane are flawed characters. They are real. I liked that Lizzy has to come to understand what her food preparation means to her and to others. I liked the aspect of the novel dealing with the conditions of chemotherapy, not only for the person receiving it, but those acting in support as well. I liked the references to novels, not only those of Austen, but also Hemingway. I liked all the descriptions of food – made me hungry.

This is a good novel all around. The characters are real and act like real people with issues. There are many themes dealt with in the novel. There is the family issue, Lizzy and Jane losing their mother when still young. There is the idea of supporting those going through chemotherapy and how one can be a help in the right way. The idea of food and tastes and creating food that would taste good to someone experiencing chemotherapy was very enlightening. There is a great deal of love, forgiveness and facing fears in the novel too.

There would be much to discuss after reading this novel and a discussion guide has been included for reading groups. The only thing missing in this novel is the recipe for Nick's chicken rub. I mean, how can you have a book with food such an important part and not include even one recipe?

Katherine Reay has enjoyed a life long affair with the works of Jane Austin and her contemporaries. After earning degrees in history and marketing from Northwestern University, she worked in not-for-profit development before returning to school to pursue her MTS. Katherine, her husband and their three children live in Chicago, Illinois. This is her second novel. Find out more at

Thomas Nelson, 352 pages.

I received a complimentary egalley of this novel from the publisher for the purpose of an independent and honest review.

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