Recipe for A Perfect Wife

Recipe for A Perfect Wife

eBook - 2020
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Alice Hale is the reluctant new owner of a suburban house outside of New York; Alice misses the city but is determined to work hard to build the kind of life her husband dreams of, complete with children. At first the house seems to resent Alice as much as she resents it, but after she discovers an old cookbook filled with handwritten notes, she becomes captivated with the previous owner, Nellie Murdoch--a 1950s housewife who left clues to her life in the cookbook's pages and a series of letters to her mother that, mysteriously, were never sent--and settles into her new life. Alice's friends and family grow worried that she has embraced the house and its past too fully--dressing like a 1950s housewife in dresses and pearls, cooking elaborate old-fashioned dishes like Baked Alaska--but she says it is all just research for the novel she claims to be writing. However, when Alice discovers the secrets Nellie kept for decades, her own grip on reality begins to loosen and and we are on the edge of our seats to discover how far she's willing to go to get the life she wants.
Publisher: Toronto : Viking Canada, 2020
ISBN: 9780735236257
0735236259
Characteristics: 1 online resource

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marybellinger
Sep 01, 2020

This book made me want to have a conversation with my dear mother who passed years ago. I loved how Karma made us feel the pressures and the stressors on women of the different generations, while still telling a believable story. I loved the quotations from magazines and woman's books of past decades too. What a life the women of the 1920's and 1950's dealt with. Fascinating!

b
BeckyR21
Aug 22, 2020

I read this book quickly; I thought it was going to be light and fluffy. Wrong! It is dark. It is a definite page turner, and I was curious to keep reading to see how each story would unfold, but it has left me with a sense of unease and sadness.

j
jennsreadinglist
Jul 16, 2020

I loved the structure of this novel (and obviously the content revolving around recipes and food). It was interesting to see the exploration of social and personal expectations of womanhood and being a wife.

g
Ginamarguerite
May 15, 2020

Living the dream Alice and Nate Harper have purchased a home in bucolic Greenville, New York. Not that far from Scarsdale the 1940’s style house needs some work, but the Hales love it. Well, Nate does and given that Alice has left her public relations job to be a full time writer and Nate will be paying the bills, what matters is that Nate loves it. Their meeting and subsequent marriage was the stuff of true romance…he kind of rescued her from an icky situation while out running and is just the best kind of guy. Sensitive to his wife’s needs, loving and caring Alice is a lucky woman. As she settles into their new home she comes across some old Ladies Home Journal magazines and a 1950’s era cookbook. Embracing the suburban lifestyle Alice begins cooking the recipes from the cookbook and rebirthing the garden let unattended for some time. Life is good for the Hales.

Fifty some years ago another couple moved into the house – Nellie and Richard Murdoch. They too had an ideal marriage, at least for the latter 1950’s and at least on the surface. Below the surface was a more sinister relationship. One Nellie was too afraid to speak about. But Nellie finds ways to deal with what today we would know was an abusive husband.

As Alice delves into Nellie’s story she begins to uncover more than a cookbook with some delish recipes.

What a fantastic read! Karma Brown is a new to me author and it was through my library newsletter I learned about her and her latest, THE RECIPE FOR A PERFECT WIFE. This is a wonderful, multi-layered read. Told about Alice and Nellie’s lives the book can be read as a straight contemporary with historical perspectives or a much deeper read contrasting the parallels and differences between the two women’s lives. The life Alice now has begins to show strong parallels to Nellie’s marriage. But overtime, Alice veers from the course Nellie had and in part because of how we view and handle things today and in part Alice coming into her own, she ultimately takes her life in the direction she wants. Through her own mother’s words and those Nellie left behind Alice learns who she is and what she wants. She confronts unpleasant truths about herself and her marriage and unlike Nellie she is able to save her marriage as well as her own identity. Not that Nellie was a coward or stupid; she was a product of her time and caught in a web of what the perfect wife was.

Nellie does, finally, come into her own and I have to admit I cheered her when she did. I hurt for her with each case of Richard’s abuse and more so when the truth about her mother came out. At the same time I cheered for her as to how she coped with and used what was going on with her mother to hold herself up. The character of Nellie was a remarkable woman.

There was so much to like and enjoy in this book. I wish it had been a book club read so I would have other people to talk with about it. I started it one morning and pretty much read it through the day and late into the night because I wanted to know how it ended as well as Brown is just a wonderful writer. This is definitely a do not miss read.

m
midori_hon
Mar 19, 2020

format reminded me of julie and julia, two women of different generations bound together by their recipes. the excerpts at the beginning of each chapter on how to be a perfect wife are eye opening, especially as they occur not that long ago.
i am tempted to make some of the recipes, ex. chicken a la king and tuna casserole.
this is a book i enjoyed more when i was reading it than i do in retrospect.

j
jfd5
Mar 16, 2020

Thoroughly enjoyed this book. Reading excerpts from years ago made me cringe and realize how very lucky us women really are now in this time....BIG strides. Enjoyed the recipes and chuckled at some as I remember my mom making some of them. Am going to look at some of her other books.

a
AB36
Mar 08, 2020

I just LOVED this book...until women killed their husbands, killed the babies they didn't want, made demands of their husbands instead of acting as a team, lied to their husbands about big issues, yet were angry when their husbands did the same...just no.

d
DM_kcls
Mar 04, 2020

I expected something completely different when I picked up 'Recipe for a Perfect Wife'.

It began lightly, as I expected, but oh so gradually turned quite dark. I think 'Recipe for a Perfect Wife' is about contrast: expectations vs reality, then vs now, wants vs needs, lies vs truth, appearances trumping all. It's told by two women who lived in the same house. The arc of both their stories reflect the contrasts and the similarities, although the modern woman is more lost in her life than the woman from the 50's who is both more disappointed and more determined.

'Recipe for a Perfect Wife' became pretty predictable about halfway through, although I was absolutely shocked by the inclusion of the very last recipe, which I found to be bizarre and a rather inappropriate inclusion. I hope the publisher has good attorneys.

The very best part of Recipe for a Perfect Wife are the snippets of advice for brides and wives that date back from the early to mid 1900's.

3 stars

o
ownedbydoxies
Mar 03, 2020

Just way too predictable, and the characters seemed very one-sided to me. Having read one of her other books, the characters also seemed repetitive with the same flaws, same very loving and loyal husband/boyfriend, whom they deceive, etc. So, I didn't finish.

j
JLMason
Feb 27, 2020

The juxtaposed lives of two women - one in the 1950’s and one contemporary - become strangely congruent in the suburban home where they are “housewives”, each struggling for self-actualization. Cleverly constructed, the book is an interesting exploration of how womens’ societal options have improved, but expectations by both men and women for old and new roles may still have some way to go. It’s also a good story: Nellie lives a Mad Men existence as the publicly perfect, subservient wife of a bully; Alice laments her lost career and identity while gradually driftng into retro domesticity. Their trajectories converge, cross, and diverge. Are both content in the end with their choices?

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