Friday, September 24, 2021

Book Review: The Gathering Table

About the Book:

Winsome Lake, Wisconsin, is postcard-pretty, but for chef Jessica Keaton it’s also a last resort. Fired from her dream job, Jess is starting over as a live-in cook and housekeeper. When she arrives, she finds her new employer is in rehab after having a stroke, and Jess expects she’ll be all alone in Elaine Haviland’s quaint house. A chef with no one to cook for.

But instead, she encounters a constant stream of colorful visitors who draw her back into the world. As Jess contends with local teenagers, a group of scrappy women and a charming football coach, Elaine faces some battles of her own that extend past her physical challenges. For both of them, all the ingredients for a fulfilling life are within reach, if they’re willing to take a leap. And maybe Jess will start to see that it’s not just what’s on the table that matters—it’s the people gathered round it.

My Comments:

I used to read a lot of Christian Fiction and this book exemplifies the good and bad of the genre.  The good is that because the authors can't develop a romance by having the characters fall in lust with each other, they actually need to make them talk to each other and to learn each other's strengths and weaknesses.  They have to be attracted to the personality, not the body.  There are two romances in this story and while the characters do find each other to be physically attractive, that physical attraction is not the main draw.  I also like the fact that one of those couples is "mature".  

The bad is that sometimes authors can't seem to resist putting in a "salvation scene", a scene where one character (or more) accepts Jesus which changes his or her life and then finds the problems of life in this world to be resolved.  Also, some of the plot turns seem a bit, hmmm, well, not quite likely.  In The Gathering Table Jess is hired over the phone to be a live-in cook and housekeeper for a lady who had a stroke.  Ok, I'll give that a pass.  Then, when she gets to town she is told the lady won't be discharged from rehab for a while, due to a fall, but that she is to go ahead and move in.  I can accept that.  However, never do we see Jess picking up the phone and calling her employer, or going by the nursing home to meet her.  Nope, she stays at the house and cooks for the neighbors.   

I liked the way the characters looked out for each other, the way they learned that three of them had a lot in common and the way the character with Down Syndrome was made into a real person rather than a caricature.  

I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley.  Grade: B. 


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