Genre: Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Women’s Fiction
Setting: Northern Michigan, near Traverse City, mainly in 2017, but bounces back and forth in time
***I received an eARC copy of The Recipe Box from the publisher, Thomas Dunne Books, via NetGalley***
*** this post contains affiliate links ***
Review: A sweet, enjoyable read that made me want to get into the kitchen and bake! The Recipe Box by Viola Shipman is one of those lovely stories that focuses on family, finding one’s self, and food. While at times it was a bit cloying for me, I ultimately really enjoyed this and loved the setting of northern Michigan!
Our main character is Sam, a sweet gal who loves to bake and is working in NYC when she loses her job and decides to head home to northern Michigan (near Traverse City area). I absolutely loved this setting! Viola Shipman makes northern Michigan sound like such a lovely place to live, with the orchards and lake, and I spent some time online looking at photos and real estate listings in the area, as it just sounded so enchanting.
When Sam returns home, she gets back into baking family recipes, and hears stories about the women in her family who came before her. The book is broken up into sections, each section focusing on one recipe, and how the recipe came to be such a loved family heirloom. The Recipe Box also contains the actual recipes, for example recipes for Apple Turnovers, or a Triple Berry Galette, or Rhubarb Sour Cream Coffee Cake with Cinnamon Streusel Topping. I actually baked the Rhubarb Coffee Cake recipe, and it was really yummy! I’d definitely make it again when needing to use up some rhubarb from my garden.
The one thing about all these recipes is that each woman in the family has her own recipe box, and wears the key to the box on a necklace that she always wears. I found myself wondering about the logistics of this far too much! I wanted to know how long the necklaces were, as the book never specified taking the necklace off in order to open the recipe box, or bringing the recipe box up to ones neck to open with the key, easily being able to open the box, or having to bend down to kitchen counter level to open the box. I kept trying to picture these ladies all bringing the box up to their neck, and then not being able to see the keyhole, and having trouble with a neck kink! I can’t tell you how many times I was distracted by all of these thoughts, and while having a key around ones neck sounds like a cute idea, it was one that never really worked for me. And none of the recipes were really “secret” recipes from other family members, so I honestly didn’t get the key/locking point of it all.
The characters and plot are fairly predictable, but books like this are enjoyable in their predictability. This was a clean read, nothing graphic about this read at all, and it very much put me in the frame of mind to watch Hallmark movies! I recommend this book to those who enjoy sweet, clean reads with a focus on family, and for those who enjoy reading books about baking. I love reading books with a focus on food, as they always make me want to get into the kitchen and try making something new! This one was no exception.
Bottom Line: A lovely, sweet read that will leave you hungry for baked goods and longing to take a trip to northern Michigan!