Wednesday 20 March 2013

The Secret Supper Club - Dana Bate

If twenty-six-year-old Hannah Sugarman had her way, she'd be whipping up carrot cakes and running her culinary empire. Instead, she spends her hours cooking up papers on the financial crisis. It doesn't help that no one in her life takes her passion seriously - not even her boyfriend.

When her relationship implodes, Hannah decides to jump-start her life by hosting a secret supper club out of her landlord's flat. Her underground operation presents some problems. Running an unlicensed restaurant out of someone's home is not, technically speaking, legal.

As the success of Hannah's supper club grows, so do the number of secrets she is forced to keep. Can Hannah keep her pop-up restaurant underground? When mysterious guests turn up for dinner, can she handle the heat? Or will she have to step out of the kitchen? A charming romantic comedy, The Secret Supper Club is a story about finding yourself, fulfilling your dreams, and falling in love along the way.

(Note: This is the UK edition of THE GIRLS' GUIDE TO LOVE AND SUPPER CLUBS)

Review: I so enjoyed this debut novel by Dana Bate! I had no clue what the book was going to be about but I love books that combine cooking and romance, like Jenny Colgan's 'Meet Me At The Cupcake Cafe' so the cover suggested that I would like this one!

We meet main character Hannah who is in a bad relationship, a bad job and has a strained relationship with her parents. I began to sympathies with Hannah right from the start of this novel, which shows what a well-written character she is! I HATED boyfriend Adam and I could quite clearly see that she should not be in the job she is in, but instead following her passion for cooking. Her friend Rachel, landlord Blake and the people that she works with make up a strong cast of supporting characters, and I defy any reader not to fall utterly in love with Blake, I can almost picture his puppy dog eyes as I am writing this!

I found this book to be a compelling read, a real page turner, but it also compelled my appetite! The dishes that Hannah conjures up, the markets that she shops at just make me want to head the the fridge and recreate those dishes, find those fabulous fresh ingredients, and for me, the food in this book is an additional character, and one I totally supported! Be warned though, do not try reading this if you are in any way hungry or trying to watch what you eat. On the other hand, Hannah's description of the food is totally comforting and reassuring and so makes it a perfect read for when it is cold and miserable outside!

The novel is set in Washington DC and I found this to be really refreshing! I love a city setting but I don't know that I have ever read a book set in Washington before, it really made me want to go and visit the city, and I thought it was beautifully described by Bates in this novel. Hannah's relationship with her parents is also nicely portrayed in this book, Hannah could have come across as spoiled or ungrateful, but she really doesn't and when shades of this begin in her personality, her best friend totally calls her on it, and I thought this was a very clever move by the author!

This book has the perfect mix of fabulous setting, wonderful characters and a totally believable gripping storyline. It is well written, and a great, fun read. I defy any fan of chick lit or contemporary romance not to find something that they love about this book!

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