Skip to main content

Review: Simply from Scratch by Alicia Bessette

I don't even know where to start on this one. I have been stunned by Alicia Bessette's debut novel, Simply from Scratch, for a few reasons, and that's as good a place to start as any:

1. I know Alicia. I wrote about her husband, Matthew Quick, when HIS debut novel came out. They live in my town, both ran in the Collingswood Library Book Run that I also did, and I sometimes see Alicia out walking the couple's grayhound. She says she's seen me running around town, too. We had a lengthy discussion about my bright red arm sleeves, which are like long sleeves for running but without being attached to a shirt.

Where she ever found the ability to write about a recently widowed woman, I do not know. I've never been widowed or lost someone close to me who was not a grandparent, but she manages to write from such a deep well of grief for the main character, Rose-Ellen, whose husband is killed suddenly (I won't say how because that would ruin some of the plot techniques Bassette uses of sharing parcels of Nick's death along the way without saying exactly what happened until the end). The book picks up over a year after Rose-Ellen was widowed and is still in the depths of depression. I can't even tell you how many times I cried during this book, and still I have this feeling of a big black hole in my heart, a "what if" something like what happened to Rose-Ellen happened to me.

2. I didn't like the book when I started reading it. I got a copy of the book because I'm writing a piece about beach books written by New Jersey authors, so of course I wanted to consider Bassette's. I had no idea what it was about when I asked.

The first few chapters of the book is clunky, littered with adverbs and overwrought descriptions. But I stuck with the book, and it soon evened out. I read it while doing laundry. I read it before dinner. I put on a DVD after dinner but turned it off and stayed on my couch until I finished the book. Yes, it is THAT GOOD.

My only regret in telling you this is that the book doesn't come out until August. Her publicist rushed me an unfinished proof to read because of my deadline.

It could be that the intro that was a stumbling block to me will be smoother if you decided to give Simply From Scratch a go. And I suggest you do.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Welcome Back to Book a Week with Jen!

Hello hello! Yes, the rumors (that I started) are true. On New Year's Day, I fired up the old Book a Week with Jen blog, gave it a new domain, and I'm going to be writing about my reading habits once again. If you don't know me, my name is Jen A. Miller , and I'm a freelance writer and author. I've been freelancing now for 17 years, and in that time, have written hundreds of articles, three books ( two about the Jersey Shore and one about running ), and two ebooks ( both about freelance writing ). If you're not new around here, wow a lot has changed. I wrote a memoir , picked up a regular running column for the New York Times , and put that back down again. I ran a lot of marathons, and got into ultra marathoning, which lead me to run my first 24 hour race on New Year's Eve/New Year's Day 2020/2021 . My first dog, Emily, died in 2017 . I sold my first home, lived out of my car for a year traveling the country , scooped up a scruffy cattle dog mix in Ida

Book 1 of 52: Widowland by C.J. Carey

In 1937, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor had a private meeting with Hitler at his home in the Bavarian Alps. This was a year after the former King Edward VIII abdicated the throne in order to marry American divorcee Wallace Simpson (hence the lower Duke title). What happened at this meeting is still a mystery. However, what is known is that the Duke of Windsor was a Nazi sympathizer, and that the Nazis also devised a plan called where Germany would take over Britain and make Duke king again, in exchange for "peace." In 1940, the Nazis launched "Operation Willi," with plans to kidnap the Duke and convince him of this pact (you might know some of this if you watched The Crown . I yelled "oh these two knobs" when Edward and Wallace came onto screen). Operation Willi failed. Widowland by C.J. Carey asks this: what if it had succeeded?  As you can imagine, nothing good! This "what if..." picks up in 1953. England is subjugated under Germany, with all

Review: Cleaving by Julie Powell

I didn't want it to end up this way. But, unfortunately, it's true: Cleaving: A Story of Marriage, Meat, and Obsession , Julie Powell's follow up to the best selling, immensely fun and delightful Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously , is not a very good book. It's dull. It's trite. And it reads more like an unbalanced woman's rambling than something being marketed as the Hot Holiday Memoir. I started my first Book a Week series with Julie & Julia . It's a charming book where Powell sets out to cook every single recipe in Julia Child's Mastering The Art of French Cooking . It started as a blog, and once the blog caught media fire, became a book, then a movie starring Meryl Streep and directed by one of my heros, Nora Ephron. That book isn't just about the cooking challenge, but also about being a 20-something stuck in the middle, and she can't get out of it. She married young, which is part of the story. The other is not knowing w