There are some stories that creep up on you like a whisper. Hillary Manton Lodge’s writing is like this. Her quiet, compelling and beautiful stories are hard to part with even as we reluctantly turn what we realize is the final page. Three years ago, Hillary invited us into the lives and home of the D’Alisa family, and since then, our heartstrings have been tugged on. All thanks to a trilogy that has been a complex yet heartwarming series of books.
STORY: The story follows the life of Juliette D’Alisa. A young Seattle woman, Juliette is working to get her fledgling restaurant (which she co-owns with her brother, Nico) off the ground. Just now, Juliette’s whole world has crumbled. She broke up with her long-distance boyfriend and shortly after her mother died.
Months later, she’s dating her brother’s sous chef, Adrian, who is wild about Juliette, and trying to again find her footing when her ex, Neil shows up in Seattle. Remembering memories she thought she was over, Juliette struggles to separate the life that was with the life she has now. It doesn’t help that Neil keeps showing up in her world or that up until now Juliette never fully admitted what her heart knows; she’s not over the not-so-distant past.
Together at the Table, by Hillary Manton Lodge | Book Review
I love Juliette’s journey from the moment I began reading Hillary’s first (debut for me) novel, A Table by the Window. Inside those pages, the author crafted a smart, elegant, funny and wonderful world. Then Neil McLaren walked onto the page, and goodness, I fell a tiny bit more in love (insert heart eye emoji). But wait, that wasn’t necessarily the makings of a happy ending. In book two, Reservations for Two, our hearts were shattered by an uncoupling, and of course we were left in tatters over what the finale would bring. Happily, in this final book, any tears that are shed are of the happy variety.
What Hillary does so well is bring fleshed out, well rounded characters to the table. Every single one of these characters felt like they reached a kind of pinnacle which is no easy feat considering the book is all Juliette’s first person narrative. Even still, somehow this felt true. Are there characters who could and maybe deserve to have their own story told? Absolutely, but at this point, their lives were “complete.” This is further evidenced by the gentle love story. Ordinarily, I’d not be a fan of the love triangle trope, but here, I had no qualms about it. There wasn’t anything forced or silly about it, and because of this, I in no way found it contrived. Instead, everything was a genuine struggle (for the characters) to reach the right and furthermore, the best decision, and I honestly wouldn’t have minded either man winning Juliette’s heart. Much as I want to gush over the men in this novel, I really feel unable to because, spoilers.
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Divided into two parts, I was surprised that the latter fourth of the novel is all about reading a dairy rather than furthering the characters in the present. That being said, I understand its importance since it plays a large role in Juliette’s earlier journey (from the first books). Upping the fun of this story, I enjoyed it while joining a read-a-long with my fabulous #BookBesties friends, Cassie and Courtney. If you’re up for major fangirling and “all the feels,” you can read our tweets at #TogetherAtTheTableRAL (beware, spoilers).
If you’re a fan of familial stories, romance or contemporary fiction, reading this novel isn’t a question of “if,” but when. You simply must pick up this gorgeous series. Only don’t start with Together At the Table. Return to where it all began with A Table by the Window. You won’t regret this journey of self-discover, good food and of course, laughter. Don’t miss this one, join the D’Alisa family at the table one last time. ♥
About the Book:
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Author: Hillary Manton Lodge
Publisher: WaterBrook Press
Source: Publisher Provided
Publication Date: 2016
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Series: Two Blue Doors, Book 3
Genre: Fiction; Contemporary Romance, Series
Rating: 5 out of 5
sincere thanks to the publisher for providing a complimentary copy of Together at the Table for reviewing purposes.
Your review is so spot on, Rissi! I love how you expressed your thoughts about the book and am wishing I wrote this! :)
Can't wait for the next read along and I wouldn't mind one bit if it turns out to be Hillary's next book!
Thanks, Cassie – and I cannot wait to read your amazing review! (Off to visiting Bookshelves and Windows next.) Your reviews are always fabulous, friend.
I agree. We'll have to find another read-along book soon – but if it's Hillary's next one, that's always something to anticipate! :) :) :)
I love Hillary's books. I look forward to reading this new one. Thanks for a great review! :)
My pleasure, Katie. I hope you enjoy this book. It's quite possibly the best I've read so far this year. Or at the very least, tied! :)
Great review! I have the second book, the first is on my wishlist, and now I want to make sure I read them all in order. Sounds like an amazing series!
Thanks, Heidi – and YES, this is an amazing series. There's so much poignancy and lovely writing. Cannot wait to read what you think. :)
What a fabulous review!!! All the heart-eye emojis , for sure :). And yes, I'm still impressed with how well developed the characters were while just being through Juliette's eyes. I'm *finally* off to work on my review of this one! It was SUCH fun reading along with you both. :) :) Happy weekend!
Ditto, Courtney. I had such a fun time with this RAL. We'll have to find another book to RAL again sometime. :) I'm impressed with the character development as well. It really is quite spectacular. YAY! Cannot wait to see your review; I did spot it on Twitter earlier today, so I'll most definitely have to read it tomorrow (or, really, later today at a more reasonable hour. :D). Thanks so much for stopping in, Courtney. :)