THE LAGER QUEEN OF MINNESOTA by J. Ryan Stradal
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THE LAGER QUEEN OF MINNESOTA

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A family inheritance tears two Minnesota sisters apart—but years later, they might get a chance to reunite.

Edith Magnusson never expected to be famous for anything, let alone her pies. But the pies she makes at her humble nursing-home job put the place on the map, and soon people are traveling from all over to try a slice. At 64 years old, it seems she’s starting a new life...but Edith doesn’t know what’s in store for her future. Although she remains a talented baker, the years to come leave her widowed, underemployed, and taking care of her teenage granddaughter, Diana. The two of them manage to barely scrape by, but Edith often wonders how her life would have been different if she’d received her portion of the inheritance from her family’s farm after her father died. Instead, Edith’s younger sister, Helen, convinced their father to give her the entire inheritance so she could build a successful brewery with her husband. Helen made good on her promise, turning Blotz beer into one of the country’s most prominent brands, but it comes at a cost. Edith stops speaking to Helen, and Helen doesn’t reach out to fix the rift. Many years later, by coincidence, Diana ends up working in a brewery. She shows both an interest and skill in making beer, and soon she’s a rising star in the world of brewing. As Diana’s career takes off, she needs all the help from her family she can get—which just might mean a chance for Edith and Helen to reconnect. Stradal’s (Kitchens of the Great Midwest, 2015) writing is sharp and funny while still managing to treat each character with warmth and respect. His women are complicated and interesting people who find fulfillment in hard work—and, perhaps most refreshingly, he never mocks the career hopes of older women. Although the characters' lives are full of loss—Edith of her husband, Diana of her parents, all of them of various unfulfilled dreams—the story doesn’t wallow in grief or indulge in despair. Instead, this is an ultimately hopeful and heartwarming story that never feels sentimental or trite. Readers will love watching these truly original characters overcome their challenges and take care of each other.

An absolutely delightful read, perfect for a summer day with a good beer and a piece of pie.

Pub Date: July 23rd, 2019
ISBN: 978-0-399-56305-8
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 2019




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