Tag Archives: family relationships

Review: Lizzy and Jane, by Katherine Reay

Lizzy & Jane, a novel by Katherine Reay

Lizzy and Jane, by Katherine Reay (Thomas Nelson, 2014)

A treat for foodies and Jane Austen fans, Lizzy and Jane brings together two sisters who’ve successfully avoided meaningful contact since their mother died years earlier. Now Jane is enduring chemotherapy for breast cancer. Elizabeth, a successful chef, has lost her edge. A flying visit home might be just what she needs.

If that sounds like the book’s a downer, let the artsy cover reassure you. There are tears, but there’s laughter, family comfort, friendship, and Elizabeth even finds a chance at romance. Plus there’s the food.

Initially I found it hard to engage, because Elizabeth begins as very self-focused. I’m glad I kept reading, because the story has lots to say about our need to truly listen to one another and discover each other’s true perspective instead of reading from the surface.

The contrasting vibes of Jane’s Seattle and Elizabeth’s New York City interested me. The faith thread encouraged me without feeling preachy. But what most caught my attention was the idea that a cancer patient’s chemo-tainted taste buds and appetite could be satisfied by food tailored to match the things they find most comforting—including their preferences in books. I don’t know if this has any basis in fact, but it’s definitely interesting.

Bonus takeaway: Elizabeth suggested using a pinch of cinnamon in tomato-based cooking (like spaghetti sauce and stew). I tried it. Yum!

The novel also provides some deliciously evocative lines. A taste, to let you see, as Elizabeth observes another character:

He was trying to do the impossible—carry the weight of all that was unable to be held and pull his energy from sheer frustration and anger. [page 143]

What I had thought was an angry stalk looked different now. It looked like a walk tinged with desperation—a suppressed, scared gait that was fast because slow would make him too vulnerable; he might get caught. [page 145]

This is my second Katherine Reay novel (see my review of Dear Mr. Knightley) and I look forward to reading more. You can find author Katherine Reay online at katherinereay.com.

[Review copy from the public library.]

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Review: On a Summer Tide, by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Book cover: On a Summer Tide, by Suzanne Woods Fisher

On a Summer Tide, by Suzanne Woods Fisher (Revell, 2019)

When their widowed father announces that he’s sold the family home and bought an island off the coast of Maine, Cam Grayson and her sisters are afraid he’s losing his mind. Partly due to this fear and partly due to life circumstances, each of the women decide to spend some time with him on Three Sisters Island.

Their father, Paul, plans to renovate the rustic island camp where he first met his wife. He hopes the family project will draw his daughters closer together. In the beginning, this is a family who don’t listen to one another, who may work together but without sharing any depth of relationship.

The daughters are widely different in personality and goals. I feel they’re perhaps too much defined by their dominant traits, to the point I didn’t really connect with any of them. We have Cam the driven businesswoman, Maddie the counsellor-in-training who analyzes family members at every opportunity, and Blaine the 19-year-old who can’t decide on her future path.

Despite a bit of disconnect, I enjoyed the story. The setting is isolated and beautiful, and I enjoyed watching the camp restoration. There’s a nice romance between Cam and Seth, the island’s schoolteacher. Seth’s gentle conversations with Cam about faith are a good example of natural ways to engage with non-Christian friends in real life.

There are flashbacks sprinkled throughout the novel and I don’t think they added anything that wasn’t (or couldn’t have been) conveyed in straight story time. For me they were more of a distraction than a bonus. The bonus was watching the interaction between teacher Seth and Cam’s son Cooper.

Favourite lines:

The driveway unfurled in a lazy curl through strands of trees until it reached the clearing where the old house sat against a windbreak of pines. [page 69, Cam’s first sight of their father’s new house]

“It’s okay to start with a small faith. We’ve got a big God.” [page 220, Seth to Cam]

On a Summer Tide is book 1 in the Three Sisters Island series, and since Cam was the central sister in this story, I expect Maddie and Blaine will each be the heroine of their own book as the series continues.

Suzanne Woods Fisher is a multi-published author of contemporary and historical novels. For more about the author and her work, visit suzannewoodsfisher.com.

[Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.]

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