Friday, August 26, 2011

Beginning ~ with a bathroom scale

Cooking for Harry: A Low-Carbohydrate Novel ~ by Kay-Marie James, 2004, fiction, 9/10
"The bathroom scale was only one of many household appliances that hadn't survived our children.  When you've got four -- Amber and the twins came ten months apart, six years ahead of Jason -- there are bound to be casualties, and when the value of one of those casualties falls anywhere below three digits, you consider yourslf a soldier of good fortune."
I had this book on my shelves for seven years (in three apartments) before I picked it up last night -- and read straight through it!  Yes, I couldn't put it down, lightweight though it is, in a sense.  It was fun to read.  It kept me interested.  It kept me turning the pages.  Who wouldn't want a husband who was a fabulous cook?  Here's a summary of the book:
Harry became a fabulous cook, starting with the secret bowls of buttery popcorn that he and his wife, Francie, would share after the children were tucked into bed. The aroma of melting butter, the hot kernels on their tongues, the salt crystals sticking to their lips -- it was their own private romantic feast, imbuing their marriage with a new kind of passion. Soon, Harry began to dazzle Francie with luscious bisques and brioches, delectable souffl├ęs, rich risottos, and classic versions of coq au vin that left her breathless.

Their family life came to revolve around the dinner table, where each night Harry's cooking brought Francie and their four children together for an awe-inspiring and mouthwatering meal. But inevitably the years slip by, and when all but one child has left the house, Harry wins a digital scale in his company's Holiday Raffle and their happy bubble bursts in a single instant. Harry's cooking has finally caught up with him. His doctor confirms that he desperately needs to lose weight.

Terrified of losing him, Francie puts Harry on a strict diet, leaving him eternally frustrated at the table and in the kitchen. When they both realize that he has to take a break from his culinary passions if this diet is to work, Francie begins to cook. Eventually a younger-looking, leaner, and more driven Harry emerges -- one so newly committed to his job and his low-carb support group that not only is he no longer in the kitchen, he's hardly ever at home. Feeling confused by the dynamics of their new relationship, Francie must contend with her need to keep Harry on his diet, and also with the women who have suddenly begun to eye her truly attractivehusband. The question now becomes: Will love be enough to keep this marriage together, or will the Atkins Diet ultimately tear Harry and Francie apart?
By the way, "Kay-Marie" is really two people, an unnamed writer who doesn't want us to know her name, and her dearest friend.  That combination worked.  As I said, I read straight through the book, savoring every bit of it, surprised by it in several places, satisfied by the ending -- which wasn't at all where I thought it would go.  An excellent book, rating a 9 out of 10 from me.

This meme is hosted by Katy at A Few More Pages. Share the first sentence or two of the book you are reading. Then, share your impressions of that beginning. Click this link to see what others say about the books they are reading this week.

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