Ballis (Off the Menu, 2012, etc.) delves again into foodie women’s lit with flavorful results.
For all of Jenna’s adult life, her best friend, Aimee, has been by her side. Inseparable as college roommates, they became wildly successful by their early 40s, building and then selling an events and catering company. They talked every day, ran a hobby cookbook shop and had planned to sail through the rest of their lives together, until Aimee’s untimely death cut that plan—and Jenna’s life as she knew it—short. Emotionally stranded, Jenna finds ways to fill the days. She sees a therapist. She cooks and bakes for her warm and enthusiastic bookstore family. She tentatively begins a new romance. She cares for her dachshund. And she tries to deal with Wayne—Aimee’s widower and the one part of her best friend’s life Jenna never understood. Thanks to Aimee’s will, they are stuck together on a financial front, and Jenna must figure out what elegant Aimee saw in her Star Wars–obsessed, criminally clumsy husband. It isn’t easy. Jenna resents Wayne and the fact that she has to deal with him when she doesn’t know how to deal with her own grief. Unsurprisingly, it’s when Jenna and Wayne begin to see each other as people in their own right, and not in relation to Aimee, that the healing begins. Some of the story's pleasure derives from the sheer Pinterest-quality abundance of goods—cookies, cashmere and Chicago restaurants abound. A recipe index is offered for aspiring chefs. But Ballis has real things to say about relationships and grief, and at its best, this book is honest and touching.
A cozy meal, with dessert.