The Woman who Wanted More by Vicky Zimmermann
Publishing Date: 30th May 2019
Source: Received from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review, thank you!
Number of pages: 448
Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Women’s Fiction
Two lonely women. An unlikely friendship. And one big life lesson: never be ashamed to ask for more . . .
No woman dreams of being unceremoniously dumped and moving back in with her mother on the eve of her 40th birthday. Food technician Kate Parker’s first response? Denial, long days under her duvet and bucket loads of cheesy pasta.
A reluctant Kate finds herself volunteering at the Lauderdale House For Exceptional Ladies. There she meets 96-year-old Cecily Finn – spiky and sharp as a pin, but the spark has gone out of her. She has resigned herself to the imminent End.
Having no patience with Kate’s self-pity, Cecily prescribes her a self-help book with a difference – it’s a 1957 cookery manual, featuring menus for anything life can throw at ‘the easily dismayed’. It promises the answers to essential life questions: ‘what shall one give to one’s rich aunt Emma that will be palatable but not prodigal; to one’s husband’s managing director, at once memorable and modest; one’s old love’s new love; the man one hopes will stay on after dinner; the man one hopes will not …’.
Can Kate find a menu to help a broken-hearted woman let go? If Kate moves forward, might Cecily too?
The cookbook holds the secrets of Cecily’s own remarkable and heartbreaking story, and the love of her life. It will certainly teach Kate a thing or two.
So begins an unlikely friendship between two lonely and stubborn souls – one at the end of her life, and one stuck in the middle – who come to show each other that food is for feasting, life is for living and the way to a man’s heart is . . . irrelevant!
Kate Parker is rather happy with her life. She has been in the same job for years and she thinks she enjoys it, and she has a great relationship with Nick, who not only can brilliantly cook, but also asked her to move in with him. But first there is THE trip to France, and it doesn’t go according to the plan and Kate finds herself unsettled, wondering what she really wants from life and this relationship. Between wondering and moving back to her mum’s place, Kate starts to volunteer at a local old people’s home – Lauderdale House for Exceptional Ladies – doing cooking demos and getting to know 97 – year – old Cecily, who takes no prisoners, doesn’t mince her words and tells how it is. Despite all of this, they soon form a special friendship that is going to change Kate’s life.
I absolutely adored how the author created Cecily – you know that I am not in awe of the older, wiser characters that usually should make the book better, knowing everything and sharing their wonderful life experiences in a gentle, patient voice but in the end make them feel really wishy – washy, too overdone and all sugar, but here the character of Cecily was simply perfect. A woman with rough edges and character, really having something to tell. She was inspiring, bold, sharp and still felt believable. The banter between Cecily and Kate, and the scenes including them, were hilarious, especially after Kate stopping to fear Cecily so much and showing that you shouldn’t mess with her as well. Sharing her own life story, Cecily wisely, albeit sometimes very straight – forwardly, gets Kate to question her own life and decisions and pushes her to figure some things out, to find her own worth.
I think it was hard to make Kate such a nice character, when she has Cecily next to her, because everyone, compared to Cecily, would simply loose the battle. However, the author has managed to pull it off and I liked Kate from the very beginning. Sure, she made me feel desperate, I wanted to bang her head on the wall and simply I couldn’t forget her moping in her mother’s spare room, thinking about Nick and hoping to get back with him but she was likeable and believable in things she did.
The author, who is also knows as Stella Newman, has created some wonderfully sounding menus, for all circumstances, even though some of them were, hmmm, uncommon? But the descriptions made my mouth water, and they were so easily and vividly brought to life. Double pasta? Anytime!
The writing style is simply great, adapted to the situation. It’s light – hearted, but it also beautifully describes some more poignant moments and they were truly heart – breaking. The author immediately pulls you into the heart of her story, the pacing is just right, and I had a feeling that Vicky Zimmermann didn’t have a plan for her characters, she simply allowed them to take the lead and let them to continue and unfold the story. Which is probably not true but it felt like this and it made the reading even more better for me.
“The Woman Who Wanted More” was a tribute to Cecily Finn, so well deserved. It’s going to leave you glowing with warmth, perfectly mixing food, love and friendship. This was a comforting, thought – provoking, sharp read but with a feel – good factor to it, and yes, mostly it was funny, or making me feel desperate towards Kate or Nick, but it also made me cry a little. Charming and delicious read, perfect for holidays!