First thing’s first, I simply adored this book. One piece of advice though: make sure you’re not hungry when you read it – it’s full of delicious descriptions of food!
Kate Parker is approaching her 40th birthday, when a big surprise turns her stable, planned-out life upside down. To keep herself busy, Kate starts volunteering at retirement home Lauderdale House for Exceptional Ladies. Here she meets 97-year old Cecily Finn, whose boredom and loneliness has led to her characteristic grouchy and impatient attitude (which as readers we develop a huge soft spot for). Kate and Cecily form an unlikely friendship, which starts to blossom through their shared love of food and, most significantly, a special recipe book that Cecily loans Kate.
Any book that begins with characters discussing their dinner plans and how to perfect their burger recipe (aka ‘Project Burger’) was always going to be one for me. The pages are laden with the most wonderful descriptions of food – custard doughnuts, breakfast burritos, hangover-curing-bacon brunches. Food is a source of humour – there’s a hilarious scene which I’ll just call ‘Kate-versus-Prawn’… I laughed out loud at a hangover being described as a “shriveled pickle”, and also when Kate was served a “deconstructed negroni” in an all too-trendy bar. Food is at the heart of this book, representing a great deal about what it means to live, and to live a filling, satisfying life – after the disruption of her life Kate completely loses her appetite, but food (through Cecily) begins to slowly nourish her again.
That brings me to Kate, who I just loved. For me, she is refreshingly relatable, with her love of good food and good books. The excuses she makes for others, who are simply helping themselves to her generosity and continually leaving her glass half-empty are painfully familiar to many of us. I was really rooting for her – she became like a friend to me, who I wanted to share a meal and a drink with, and give a good old pep talk to! Cecily, too, is an exceptional woman, with a cheeky sparkle in her eye and a rich and fascinating past. Both women have a stubborn streak, immense courage and huge hearts, which means they can challenge each other, in that wonderful way that true friends can.
Zimmerman writes this story with such tenderness and care for her characters. Do make sure that you read the author’s note at the end of the book, which added another layer of depth and really brought the whole thing together for me.
Please do yourself a favour – read this book and nourish your soul!
The Woman Who Wanted More, by Vicky Zimmerman will be published by Bonnier Zaffre on 30th May 2019. Many thanks to Bonnier Zaffre for the eARC via Netgalley.