One of my friends on goodreads.com recommended Dana Bate’s new novel and so I thought I’d give it a read. I’m a foodie that dabbles in gourmet dinner parties, I live in the metro DC area, and I’m pretty interested in the underground restaurant scene that is all the rage lately. These circumstances and my love of breezy ‘chick lit’ meant that The Girls’ Guide To Love and Supper Clubs was sure to be a book I’d enjoy and it was.
The protagonist, Hannah, is a smart and resourceful young woman living in DC and working the typical think tank job. She’s dating a handsome, wealthy, and upper crust type of fellow who is employed in the political arena. From the outside, life seems perfect, but on the inside, she’s unhappy. Like many DC types that have come before her, Hannah actually wants no part of the political policy scene and would rather spend her time on other pursuits, namely cooking. Cue a round of applause from the true life wonk who dropped out of life on Capitol Hill to open up Cake Love (a gourmet bakery) in downtown DC. Of course her parents don’t support these aspirations (might as well tell them you want to be a rock star) and her boyfriend begins to tire of her less-than-high-society demeanor as well.
It appears that something’s gotta give but Hannah isn’t quite ready to stand up to her parents or give up her dreams so she takes the route many would and finds a way to do it all without upsetting anyone, at least at first. As expected, things come crashing down spectacularly and she has to find a way to put everything right again.
It’s a great story, light reading, with a strong arc and happy ending (I love happy endings!). I never pick up on the clues in Sherlock Holmes stories and that always makes me feel dumb - no reader likes to feel dumb - so I also enjoyed feeling smart as Bate’s allowed the reader to tease out where Hannah’s relationship with her landlord was headed long before Hannah realized it. My only criticism might be that Bate provided a less than convincing emotional conversion for one of the key characters at the end of the novel. I just don’t see it as plausible that a person would have such a dramatic change of heart (I don’t want to give away spoilers, but you’ll surely understand when you reach the final pages).
Overall recommendation: buy. Great beach reading.