Review by Darcie Czajkowski
From the outside, Hannah Sugarman appears to have it all: a successful boyfriend and an enviable job at a Washington D.C. think tank. But on the inside, Hannah feels like she’s living a lie. Her dream is to run her own catering company, an ambition not supported by her parents, prominent economics professors, and her boyfriend, Adam. To them, cooking is a hobby, not a career, especially for someone with Hannah’s intelligence. It’s not that Hannah doesn’t want to pursue her goals and forge her own path, but the pressure to follow in her parents’ footsteps makes her wonder if what she harbors is merely a pipedream.
But when Adam suddenly breaks up with her, claiming that she’s too unpredictable and volatile and that he needs someone more “gracious…subdued…serious,” Hannah decides, with a boost of confidence and assistance from her co-worker Rachel, to launch an underground supper club out of her landlord’s house. Without his consent. To Hannah’s surprise and delight, her secret, small-scale restaurant is a thriving success, not only regarding her culinary creations, but with men as well. Jacob Reaser, one of the attendees, turns on the charm with her, and Hannah lets herself fantasize that her life is finally turning around.
Unfortunately, her fantasy remains…a fantasy. While certainly thrilling, the whole supper club venture isn’t exactly legal, which creates levels of anxiety high enough to induce a heart attack for Hannah, when she and Rachel, time and time again, host their parties while her landlord is out of town. Further complicating matters, her landlord, a man with a penchant for pirate-speak, works in politics and is currently running for a local position in which he would work to shut down operations such as hers. And the cherry on top: Jacob has issues following through on his promises to call her and notably fails to confirm her Facebook friend request.
Will Hannah get caught red-handed? Will her dream of being able to cook full-time remain a dream, a mere hobby? Will she find love again or will she just churn about, searching but perpetually getting slapped with the brunt of Murphy’s law?
The Girls’ Guide to Love and Supper Clubs is a can’t-put-it-down book that will have you laughing until your stomach aches, but will also teach you life lessons about pursuing your dreams, no matter what stands in your way. Dana Bate adeptly mixes relatable problems of a twentysomething girl with rich, vivid descriptions and witty, quick-paced humor. Oh, and she throws in a wonderful bonus at the end: a handful of Hannah’s super-club recipes. Whether or not you’re a foodie, this book is yummy from the first bite all the way until the very end.
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About the author:
Dana Bate is an award-winning journalist and author of the novel THE GIRLS’ GUIDE TO LOVE AND SUPPER CLUBS (published as THE SECRET SUPPER CLUB in the UK). Her writing has appeared in numerous outlets, including McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Culinate, Table Matters, and Smithsonian.com.
These days, when she isn’t writing, she can usually be found in her kitchen, whipping up a new recipe from her extensive cookbook collection. She currently lives outside Philadelphia.
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