"Even when the rainbow seems to pass right by me....I'm still finding Gold in the clouds....."

10 August 2013

2013 Book Review #30: The Summer Kitchen

My younger sister Joy said I would love this book.

She was correct...it was wonderful!!

I loved the author's humor in regards to the upper-crust society of the Westchester County area of NY. What a hoot!  and um....some of her descriptions of the people there were quite right on!

Story Summary

Nora Banks is a typical Bedford mom.  Super wealthy and married to millionaire Wall Street husband, Evan.  They have 3 sons:  Thomas, Nicholas and Charlie.  The older 2 (ages 7 and 5) attend a very elite private school in town and the youngest goes to an elite preschool.  They live in an 18th century house that Nora has spent several years and thousands of dollars renovating and modernizing.  It is a "museum-quality" home.  They even have a nanny for the boys named Beatriz who is from Central America. The house includes a summer kitchen in the traditional 1700's style.  This is where Nora hosts her famous jam-making luncheons for all the private school moms. She does love to bake and is used to getting whatever she wants and spending whatever she wants. 

But one early morning, all of that changes.

Evan is arrested by the federal government for a serious white-collar crime. All of a sudden, Nora must face several losses in her life:  the loss of her financial and social status among the other mothers in the exclusive community of private-school moms, the loss of her husband's salary as he must spend 2 years in federal prison, and the loss of her home's possessions.  She is left with her summer kitchen, a few cooking supplies that Beatriz hid from the federal agents who seized the thousands of dollars worth of Persian rugs, plasma televisions, computers, furniture, dishes and vases.  Even her best bedding is gone.  All of the boys' electronic toys and designer clothes are gone.

And the private school moms have abandoned her.  She is no longer a fit for the upscale Bedford community.  She has to withdraw her boys from the private school and place them in public school. They don't seem to mind.

Meanwhile, only Nora's nanny is by her side. And she encourages Nora to use her talents of baking to work in the town's bakery, owned by Philip (who does need new talent to keep his bakery going).  This is the very bakery where she and the other private school moms would stop in for morning coffee after dropping off their children to school and before their aerobics classes or equestrian lessons.

She is soon tempted by the offer of an affair with one of their husbands.....but....she reaches into her self to find talents and resources she never even knew she had.

She decides to open up her own local business, the Summer Kitchen Bakery-Cafe and gets Philip to be her partner.  But one of the condescending wives (Bonnie) is intent on running her and her business out of town.  Nora manages to thwart Bonnie's plans and her bakery-cafe is up and running!

During the year that this story takes place, Nora learns many things about her self, her husband, her boys, and her nanny.  She changes the town, the town's characters and she changes her thinking about family, money, romance, and life.

What does she learn?

Read the book to find out!


This book is a must read.  It is refreshingly funny and forthright.

The author has a very good understanding of the upper class and women who think that money solves everything and IS everything.

The book focuses on the themes of betrayal, friendships, love, and forgiveness.  It shows that women, when faced with difficult circumstances, can be successful when they reach inside themselves and embrace their giftings/talents and just be who they were meant to be.  It shows that life really isn't meaningful when shallow and focused on brand/status symbols, what kinds of cars to drive, what schools the children go to, and how many millions the husband earns.  

The one thing I did NOT like about the book is that there was one steamy s*x scene that I felt was totally unnecessary and a huge disappointment. In my opinion, this brought the book down to the level of just any old contemporary "chick lit".....when really it COULD be a good literary piece.  That scene was just too tawdry. Maybe I'm a bit old-fashioned but....the scene was all in Nora's mind....it wasn't actually between her and one of the male characters....but....just so unnecessary.  I hate that contemporary authors feel they must write this stuff.  

Overall, though, the story-line was brilliant!

We learn that the women of Bedford led very empty lives......they were "busy" but non-productive. Therefore, bored. (in my opinion).  They might have had careers at one point but never needed to work once they married their wealthy husbands.  Therefore, they lost a sense of themselves and their life's focus.

And we learn that as women, we can accomplish many things when we face trials and determine in our hearts that life will go on...it might be different....but it does go on!

I especially loved that Nora could forgive Evan and contemplate falling in love with him all over again.

In my opinion, this book is appropriate for ages 17 and older.

On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, I rate this a 9. 

1 comment:

Susanne said...

Too bad about that scene having to be in the book, otherwise it does sound like a great story.