A sweetly told saga bubbling with appealing characters and food-related talk.

Simmer and Smoke


A poor country girl and a fashionable city woman learn about life in a tasty novel that blends romance and recipes.

Alabama native Lampman has experience in the gourmet-food industry and previously wrote a food column for the Ann Arbor News and MLive. In her debut novel, she presents likable Georgia characters who have a similar love for culinary delights. The chapters alternate to recount the dreams and worries of two women who have nothing in common other than their appreciation for quality ingredients. Twenty-four-year-old Shelby Preston barely gets by in the small town of Coryville, a couple of hours outside of Atlanta, as she raises her 6-year-old daughter, the charming, one-eyed Miss Ann. She lives with her 44-year-old mother and her mother’s lover, and, as she says, “We are the living, breathing stereotype of a white trash family; as common as pig tracks.” But Shelby was the best student in her high school English class (a rather unconvincing explanation for how she writes and speaks so well) and has an ambition to become a chef. Meanwhile, in Atlanta, the wealthy 38-year-old divorcée Mallory Lakes writes a food blog, which she sees as a refuge after being fired from the Atlanta Sun newspaper. She pines for her former beau, Cooper, who dumped her, and often pals around with her friend Catherine, nicknamed “Itchy,” who works at an upscale grocery called Grasso’s. Shelby snags a job there, and she follows a convoluted but ultimately satisfying path to a better life. She eventually meets the women of the Squash Blossom Farms and shares two tragic events with her food-blog guru, Mallory. Lampman’s often poetic prose can sometimes be overwrought (“Distant sonic booms, sporadic and celebratory, reverberate and the flag hangs limp in the heavy, humid air”), but readers likely won’t mind. Overall, her engaging voice helps to lighten the story’s batter of plot coincidences. The author has Shelby and Mallory confide to readers in turn in first-person segments, but occasionally Miss Ann’s refreshing voice pipes up as well. Lampman also beefs up the text by weaving nearly two dozen Southern dishes into the story (“Hoppin’ John,” “Chicken Gumbo Ya-Ya,” etc.) and provides their recipes in an appendix.

A sweetly told saga bubbling with appealing characters and food-related talk.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-5084-9884-1

Page Count: -

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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