From the publisher:
From the New York Times bestselling author J. Ryan Stradal, a story of a couple from two very different restaurant families in rustic Minnesota, and the legacy of love and tragedy, of hardship and hope, that unites and divides them
Mariel Prager needs a break. Her husband Ned is having an identity crisis, her spunky, beloved restaurant is bleeding money by the day, and her mother Florence is stubbornly refusing to leave the church where she’s been holed up for more than a week. The Lakeside Supper Club has been in her family for decades, and while Mariel’s grandmother embraced the business, seeing it as a saving grace, Florence never took to it. When Mariel inherited the restaurant, skipping Florence, it created a rift between mother and daughter that never quite healed.
Ned is also an heir—to a chain of home-style diners—and while he doesn’t have a head for business, he knows his family’s chain could provide a better future than his wife’s fading restaurant. In the aftermath of a devastating tragedy, Ned and Mariel lose almost everything they hold dear, and the hard-won victories of each family hang in the balance. With their dreams dashed, can one fractured family find a way to rebuild despite their losses, and will the Lakeside Supper Club be their salvation?
In this colorful, vanishing world of relish trays and brandy Old Fashioneds, J. Ryan Stradal has once again given us a story full of his signature honest, lovable yet fallible Midwestern characters as they grapple with love, loss, and marriage; what we hold onto and what we leave behind; and what our legacy will be when we are gone.
“Stradal serves up another saga of food and family, hurt and healing, pitched between cliff-hanger moments. . . that make the pages fly.” —People
“Stradal…displays his gift for writing female characters who are fully realized, sometimes unlikable, but always as flawed and compelling as real people. The Midwest setting is written with love and respect, and while the story is often heartbreakingly sad, there’s also real warmth and comfort in Stradal’s writing. A loving ode to supper clubs, the Midwest, and the people there who try their best to make life worth living.” —Kirkus (starred)https://amzn.to/42efPal
“Stradal’s novels…always resonate…He explores universal themes: love, loss, regrets for one’s past mistakes, and longings for what might have been—plus, of course, the importance of family.” —Publishers Weekly
I don’t know a whole lot about the Midwest, other than what I’ve gotten from books and a friend from St. Louis. Stradal’s books are firmly set there, so they are always a learning experience for me. Plus, he wrote one of my favorite books ever – Kitchens of the Great Midwest.
I’ve heard of supper clubs, probably from his earlier books, but this book dives deeply into the tradition. I’m still not 100% sure I can differentiate between a supper club and any other restaurant, other than in the reading it feels somewhat different. We try and understand things we aren’t sure of by thinking about things in our own lives that may be similar – to me, to my understanding, it feels almost like a country club restaurant, without the golf and the membership dues.
This is a story that spans generations, marriages, deaths, and estrangements. Once I started this book, I was hesitant to put it down and not because of anything gimmicky, like 2 page-long chapters (I’m looking at you, James Patterson et al.,) but because I wanted to see what happened next with this family. This is a book where you can’t help rooting for all the characters to come together, to find their happy endings, but as in life, not all the endings are happy. This story took me on an emotional journey, and I loved it.
Let me add that Pamela Dorman books never let me down. If you are searching for a new read, a good way to find one is by imprint, in this case, Pamela Dorman books. You can google her or even do a search in Amazon, and anything you find attached to her name will be a good book, (at least for me.)
5/2023 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch
SATURDAY NIGHT AT THE LAKESIDE SUPPER CLUB by J. Ryan Stradal. Pamela Dorman Books (April 18, 2023). ISBN: 978-1984881076. 352p.
He is one of my favorite writers. The supper clubs of the Midwest are a thing unto themselves. Just different — I have never seen anything quite like them anywhere else. The country club is not quite a supper club – country club has wait staff who know everyone. Members are more familiar with each other than people who might go out to a supper club. Good ones always have music and often dancing. Good review. Thanks.