Sunday Burgs book review
Reviewed by Alison Armstrong of Blacksburg. She is the collection development librarian at Radford University and a member of the Montgomery-Floyd Regional Library Board of Trustees.
Bestselling author of “Shoe Addicts Anonymous,” Beth Harbison, has a new book titled, “When In Doubt, Add Butter.” While I would probably identify with the shoe addict books, I had not read any of Harbison’s books. The sentiment of this title sounded appealing.
The main character, Gemma Craig, is a personal chef who has focused on her career more than the rest of her life. The book is written in first person, but Gemma shares her perspective as though she were writing to a friend. She tells the story as a seasoned storyteller; building up to and savoring the succulent bits. She admits to the reader when she didn’t notice a detail they have likely already put together and can guess how things play out.
For readers who identify as romantics, enjoy a good love story and believe that we all have a perfect match out there, this story is for you. Gemma loves her work but doesn’t always love the high maintenance people, along with their finicky tastes, that she serves. She works in a different home each day. The book begins with a rather unfortunate incident that costs her a Friday night job. This gives her some time to spend with a friend. The night becomes quite memorable and she has a great time. However, her work issues seem to be getting worse. One of her clients sets her up with his niece who is in need of a personal chef. While the start is rough, Gemma is determined to help her.
Another family she works for has long been a mystery to her. People come in, meet with the patriarch, and leave, often in tears. She can only imagine they must be part of the Russian mafia. She learns what they do on a fateful day and the reader enjoys putting the pieces of Gemma’s life together.
Her favorite person to cook for, she calls “Mr. Tuesday.” He, of course, is her Tuesday client and, while they have spoken on the phone and communicated through notes, they have never met. She loves that he is fun to cook for and loves their playful banter. She pictures him as the perfect man.
Her sister is expecting her second child, a bittersweet experience for Gemma because of her past. She had a child at 17 and gave it up in a closed adoption so the child could be afforded all of the opportunities a 17 year-old, single mother could never provide. She decided to make it a closed adoption because she didn’t want to be looking into every child’s eyes, wondering if it was hers. Gemma loves her niece and feels the time for her to marry and start a family of her own is slipping away. She feels so financially unstable, with no reserve to fall back on, and she worries about losing clients. She is sure that she could never have a child in her current situation.
The love story that winds through the book is wonderful and, yes, sometimes cynical skepticism creeps in and the reader may think life never works like that but, for some, it does. Don’t you want to live in a world where it might? Or, at least read a book where it does?
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