Review first published 13/03/12
Grace Coulter is a 37 year old woman who has hidden away from the day-to-day world by working in the family restaurant business. Her reluctance to meet people other than her work colleagues at the restaurant, who she doesn’t speak to, and her family is due to childhood bullying that she received because she was taller than the other children in her class.
With the combined effects of her father being too ill to work and the recession having an effect upon the business, Grace takes a gamble with the idea of creating a cookbook of recipes to raise funds to help the restaurant stay afloat and prevent staff layoffs.
This leads her to take a regular bus journey every morning and meet new people as she seeks out recipes and stories to form the cookbook, whilst learning that an individual can affect the lives of the people around her.
I found out about this novella through the regular Twitter posting “Free Kindle Ebooks” (@DIGITALinktoday) who publicised this as a free E-book available through Amazon a couple of weeks ago.
As a result of my “cookery story” fixation that started with “The Kitchen Daughter” plus the factor that it was free, I decided to get this e-novella and a nice little novella it is too.
Due to the size of the story, little time is afforded to things such as sweeping character arcs and the like. You don’t receive a great deal of background for each of the characters who appear, even for the main character of Grace, but you learn enough to keep the story ticking along to the its nice, if slightly predictable, conclusion.
Without giving any spoilers, I wanted to comment on a couple of plot devices that I thought were cleverly written to move the plot along. The first is the device of Grace of confronting her shyness by getting recipe ideas from the people who travel alongside her on the bus. This opens the door to the reader’s interest in the characters as you, along with Grace, find out about who these passengers are and their relationships with each other and the regular driver, Hank.
The second plot device is the usage of the mini-biographies that the passengers on the bus give to Grace as a way of adding personality to the cookbook. With these you find out about the supporting characters, not only through the behaviours they show and the conversations they have on the bus, but also through narrative device of each of the supporting characters giving a bite size (pun not intended) history.
This is a novella that is definitely contemporary in it’s setting as the recession hits not only the Coulter family business but those of the locality which means the businesses band together to try to keep their heads above water. In addition to this, it’s highly appropriate for a Kindle book to feature modern IT phenomena such as Kindle, blogging, Facebook and Twitter, along with the phenomenon of “self publishing”.
The story is nicely paced and I managed to read it within three days – not bad considering that I used my lunch breaks and evenings to read this book.
“A Slice Of Life” has now come off it’s free price tag, but if you’re into novellas, this is a nice little e-book to break up your reading challenge with. It has nicely written characters and a nicely paced plot which doesn’t feel rushed given the size of the novella.
If you would like to find out more about Margaret Lake or her books, please visit http://www.jobreepublishing.com/.