I originally received this as an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review, which I posted on my tumblr before I had this blog. I have modified the review slightly, but I have not changed my feelings about this book, which you can tell by the fact that I purchased it after it came out.
Amy E. Reichert’s The Coincidence of Coconut Cake is a novelized love letter to the city of Milwaukee, to the joys of cooking being passed down from generation to generation, and to finding someone who shares the joys of life with you.
The book opens with Milwaukee chef Lou going to dinner with her obnoxious fiancé, Devlin, and turns to a scene of British food critic Al getting a tip to review her French restaurant, Luella’s, under his pseudonym. As you will learn, Devlin is the worst person in this book, and he is soon out of the picture for the most part once Lou catches him with an intern.
Unfortunately, the day that Lou dumps him is the same day that Al decides to come in for a review. Unsurprisingly, Luella’s food is not up to its usual standard, and Al writes a scathing review of the restaurant, which leads to Luella’s business slowing to the point of failure.
Al and Lou meet in a bar after the review is published and become friends, neither of them realizing who the other one is after saying they each don’t want to talk about work. Al, a recent transplant to the city, doesn’t believe there’s anything good about Milwaukee, and Lou shows him differently.
The characters were absolutely the best part of this novel. Lou was a thoroughly enjoyable character to share headspace with while I read this. Her friends Sue and Harley were a breath of fresh air and sanity for Lou, and their sass definitely helped Lou get her head on straight. Otto and Gertrude were the sweet old couple that all of us hope to be someday. Devlin was truly atrocious, but even he felt very real. All of them were people I would absolutely love to meet someday. Even Devlin, if only to punch him in the face.
I also feel like I got to know the city of Milwaukee while reading this in my small Southern town. A lot of the foods in here were absolutely mouthwatering in their descriptions. I actually had no idea that cheese curds were edible, but they sound delicious even to my lactose-intolerant body. I’d love to visit Milwaukee, which is never a place that I had thought about before reading this. That’s a sign of a great setting.
The Coincidence of Coconut Cake has a wonderfully alliterative title, a beautifully appropriate cover, and an amazing set of characters. If you’re looking for a light fluffy read with a great recipe for coconut cake in the back, this is definitely the book for you. I had no choice but to give this book a 5 star rating.
If this sounds like your thing, you may also enjoy The Restaurant Critic’s Wife, Julie & Julia, or Saint Anything. Reichert just released the cover for her new book: “Luck, Love and Lemon Pie,” so check it out on Goodreads!