One of my favorite movies is You’ve Got Mail, the Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan romcom written by Nora & Delia Ephron that is set around NYC bookstores. Much as You’ve Got Mail was a love letter to New York City, Coconut Cake is a love letter to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Reichert did an amazing job – I want to go! The Coincidence of Coconut Cake is the foodie equivalent of Mail, and that completely worked for me.
Lou is a talented chef who is sweating away trying to make a success of her small French restaurant, Luella’s, named after her beloved grandmother. She has a core group of regulars, and is just making ends meet. Her personal life is a little bit better; her fiancé is successful but not entirely supportive of her endeavors. And then everything falls apart.
Lou walks in on her fiancé with another woman and she dumps him. She’s off to work, heartbroken, humiliated and angry, not the best way to cook. She alienates most of her staff, and the food suffers terribly.
Of course this is the night that the new food critic in town visits the restaurant. Al is quite acerbic in his reviews and is building a nice following. One meal at Luella’s is all that he needs to eviscerate the restaurant, sounding the death knoll for the struggling restaurant.
Meanwhile, Lou and Al literally run into each other and she decides to show him around Milwaukee, a city he is sorry he landed in. By the time she’s through with him, he loves the city and Lou – but it takes a while before he realizes who she is and she finds out who he is. Fireworks ensue, but it is the journey that is so delicious.
This was a fast moving story with warm, likeable characters and a fun plot.
8/15 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™
THE COINCIDENCE OF COCONUT CAKE by Amy E. Reichert. Gallery Books (July 21, 2015). ISBN 978-1501100710. 336p.