Zaffre|30 May 2019|448 pages|e-book via NetGalley|Review copy|3*
Two lonely women.
An unlikely friendship.
And one big life lesson: never be ashamed to ask for more . . .
After a major life upheaval on the eve of her 40th birthday, a reluctant Kate Parker finds herself volunteering at Lauderdale House for Exceptional Ladies. There she meets 97-year-old Cecily Finn. Cecily’s tongue is as sharp as her mind but she has lost her spark, simply resigning herself to the Imminent End.
Having no patience with Kate’s plight, Cecily prescribes her a self-help book with a difference – it’s a 1957 cookery manual, featuring menus for anything life can throw at ‘the easily dismayed’. Will Kate find a menu to help her recover from her broken heart? If Kate moves forward, might Cecily too?
The cookbook holds the secrets of Cecily’s own remarkable past, and the story of the love of her life. It will certainly teach Kate a thing or two.
So begins an unlikely friendship between two lonely and stubborn souls – one at the end of her life, one stuck in the middle – who come to show each other that food is for feasting, life is for living and the way to a man’s heart is . . . irrelevant!
The Woman Who Wanted More by Vicky Zimmerman begins very slowly and I soon felt this wasn’t a book for me. For a start it’s romantic fiction written in the present tense. Then there is Kate, who is nearly 40, single but preparing to move in with her boyfriend, Nick. But on holiday he tells her that he doesn’t want the commitment and she ends up back home living with her mother. Despite her friends’ warnings that he is not worth the bother, she still gives him chance after chance of starting again. And she goes on and on and on about him.
I breathed a sigh of relief when Cecily meets Kate! Cecily is 97 living in Lauderdale House for Exceptional Ladies, a grumpy old lady with intense brown eyes and a sharp tongue. When she hears Kate’s story about her relationship with Nick she tells her in no uncertain terms to give him short shrift and to find a man who isn’t too emotionally stunted to love her.
I was thinking of not finishing this book until Cecily came on the scene. After getting off to a bad start, with several cross words, Kate and Cecily get to know each other better and Cecily’s cookery book gives her some helpful advice mixed in with recipes. And when I got to the end of the book and read the Author’s Note I understood why Cecily’s part of the story appeals to me more – the character was inspired by a real person, Vicky Zimmerman’s grandmother. The book is a mix of fact and fiction – and for me Cecily’s story had the ring of truth. I’m glad I read on to the end.
My thanks to the publishers for my review copy via NetGalley.