The two main characters in That Part Was True by Deborah McKinlay are a reader and an author – both middle-aged, divorced, and love to cook. Both are slightly dissatisfied with how their lives have turned out in what is not quite the end, but is getting closer to being the final chapter. (Of their lives, that is…using a bookish metaphor here.)
With a picture of the Eiffel Tower on the front, you can guess how this story turns out, right?
Well, maybe and maybe not. Eve Petworth (the reader) lives in a suburb of London and Jackson Cooper (the author) lives in the Hamptons. Eve sends Jack (think Lee Child, does he cook, I wonder?) a fan letter about his latest thriller and they begin a correspondence about cooking and eating that becomes an anchor for each of them in the swirl of their daily lives.
Dear Mr Cooper,
I could probably contact you more directly by e-mail, but the effort of handwriting will encourage me to choose my words carefully and I am conscious that I am writing to an author.
I wanted to tell you that I enjoyed your book ‘Dead Letters’ very much. The scene where Harry Gordon eats the peach (‘leaning over and holding back his green silk tie with one arm while the juice christened the shirt cuff of the other’) introduced a moment of summer into a watery English day. And it reminded me, as well, of the almost decadent pleasure that comes with eating fully matured fruit – sadly, a rarity.
With best wishes,
Eve’s and Jack’s correspondence continues through the novel, but it’s just the seasoning for the main storyline – Eve’s daughter’s engagement and marriage – with its underlying theme that it’s never too late to reinvent yourself or go to Paris.
Author Deborah McKinlay lives in the U.K. This Part Was True is her second novel. Instead of an author bio, here’s the recipe that she says defines her.
I’m sure I heard about This Part Was True from a past Weekend Cooking post, but I can’t find the post. I’m sure I’ve seen several mentions of it from book bloggers, possibly from one of these:
I enjoyed That Part Was True very much, especially because it was very much about reading and writing, and cooking and eating – some of my favorite things to read about! It’s also got that British depressive streak that keeps even their domestic fiction (which this is)and chick lit (which this isn’t) from being too cloying. On the book publicity, it’s compared to The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society because of the letters and the cooking, but there’s no historic element here. I can’t think of another book to compare it to right now, but I’ll keep thinking!
That Part Was True
Grand Central, 2/4/14