Recipe For a Perfect Wife by Karma Brown
“In this captivating dual narrative novel, a modern-day woman finds inspiration in hidden notes left by her home’s previous owner, a quintessential 1950s housewife. As she discovers remarkable parallels between this woman’s life and her own, it causes her to question the foundation of her own relationship with her husband–and what it means to be a wife fighting for her place in a patriarchal society.
When Alice Hale leaves a career in publicity to become a writer and follows her husband to the New York suburbs, she is unaccustomed to filling her days alone in a big, empty house. But when she finds a vintage cookbook buried in a box in the old home’s basement, she becomes captivated by the cookbook’s previous owner–1950s housewife Nellie Murdoch. As Alice cooks her way through the past, she realizes that within the cookbook’s pages Nellie left clues about her life–including a mysterious series of unsent letters penned to her mother.
Soon Alice learns that while baked Alaska and meatloaf five ways may seem harmless, Nellie’s secrets may have been anything but. When Alice uncovers a more sinister–even dangerous–side to Nellie’s marriage and has become increasingly dissatisfied with the mounting pressures in her own relationship, she begins to take control of her life and protect herself with a few secrets of her own.”
January 21, 2020 (You can pre-order HERE)
Domestic Life Fiction
Wow!! Recipe for a Perfect Wife was a surprise hit for me and I just enjoyed it so much. This was my first book by Karma Brown and it definitely won’t be my last! I loved the format of the dual timelines and I became very immersed with both of the main characters.
Brown introduces us to Alice, who has recently moved out of the city to a fixer-upper with her husband. As her roles are shifting in her own home life, Alice discovers a cookbook and magazines from the previous homeowner. This discovery introduces us to the other main character in this book, Nellie.
The storyline then goes back and forth between present-day Alice and Nellie a “housewife” in the 1950s. I loved how Brown took us back to that era and really dove into what life was like for women and the expectations there was of Nellie as a wife in that time period.
The story shifts between Nellie’s narrative, and Alice’s discovery of Nellie’s past while also learning more about her own marriage. Each chapter started with quotes from marital advice from the (not so distant) past and it really helped set the scene for how different life was in the early and mid-1900s.
Brown keeps you super involved in both storylines and I loved that while it was a completely engaging read, it took on some powerful and timely topics. The twists at the end were satisfying, clever and bold. Recipe For A Perfect Wife will definitely stick with me and it would make a wonderful book club discussion.
Thank you to NetGalley and Dutton Books for an advanced copy.