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Blue Plate Special: A Novel of Love, Loss, and Food Paperback – January 24, 2006


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Food stylist Julia Daniel would love to extricate herself from her dead-end life. She's got an evil boss at her Los Angeles magazine and a wicked stepsister back in Kentucky and, at 33, she's been newly orphaned. Years before she'd left the Bluegrass State to try her luck as a photographer in L.A. (your palette, says one art director, is "at best pedestrian, at worst beggarly"), Julia Daniel watched her mother die of cancer, and she never forgave her father for his speedy remarriage. But now, with her father's sudden death in a plane crash, Julia understands that she's been drowning in sadness for years. As Norris plumbs the depths of Julia's sorrow and charts the lengths she must go to heal, she reveals that Julia's photography career was stymied by depression as much as by big-city competitiveness and that she's sunk so low that killing cockroaches makes her feel "wily and powerful." Norris gives Julia neither jaded interior dialogue nor hipster wit, and while this is appropriate for a book about grief and recovery, the novel's sorrow can feel both familiar and mildly suffocating. A tag line designating this "a novel of love, loss and food" may catch the eye of chick-lit fans, but instead of the genre's traditional yuks, they'll find a thoughtful look at making one's way in a world that's uncertain.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Like many thirtysomethings, Julia Daniel feels trapped in a dead-end job, unsure of what she wants from life and where she belongs. Adding to Julia's problems is the death of her mother and the more recent deaths of her slightly estranged father and stepmother. Much to her Kentucky relatives' collective bafflement, Julia works as a food stylist for a gourmet magazine in Los Angeles. She dreams of being a photographer, but her depression and her obnoxious boss prevent her from seeing a way to make her dreams come true. This charming first novel follows Julia's travels from Kentucky to Los Angeles and back as she attempts to make a life for herself. An overly expository writing style bogs down the first half of the book, but once Julia returns to Los Angeles the pages begin to fly. The book's comic moments, including a hilarious send-up of a movie star's poetry, outshine some of the more typical chick-lit moments. Marta Segal
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin (January 24, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031232233X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312322335
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,423,556 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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See all 10 customer reviews
I read this quickly, but still felt satisfied.
Laura Crowson
She finds her inner spark by overcoming her pain, loss, and depression and finding love and forgiveness in unusual ways.
E. Woontner
I really enjoyed the characters, not to mention that you are an incredibly gifted writer style-wise.
Josephine Gross, Ph.D.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Honor Bret Harte on February 13, 2005
Format: Hardcover
The main character is a food stylist, which is what intrigued my about this book from the beginning. The world of magazines and food photo shoots is hilariously observed, and the book is a comic wonder because of this inspired choice. But what I hadn't expected were the deeply felt and haunting passages on greif and loss - the main character has suffered a recent tragedy and the story is about her struggle to regain emotional level ground. I loved this first novel.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Josephine Gross, Ph.D. on April 19, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Dear Francie:

I just finished your book. What a wonderful story, full of feeling, wisdom, beauty and hope. I really enjoyed the characters, not to mention that you are an incredibly gifted writer style-wise. I lived the whole trip to Sedona as if I was there. And the end is so sexy, yummy, I love it!! All I can say is, keep writing, girl! And like I said, some day we may see the movie "Blue Plate Special", very attractive title to my ears. Thank you for your gift to the world of readers,
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By N. Larrabee on February 11, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Julia Daniel is stuck in a job as a food stylist for a little known magazine in Los Angeles. An inside joke with her friend Claire at the magazine is that any dish Julia works her magic on is known as a "blue plate special". Her father's death from a plane crash has left her reeling emotionally in its aftermath. She has to deal with her stepsister Constance back home in Kentucky. Julia estranged from her father because of his second marriage, and a constant debate over her dreams to be a photographer, never got the chance to reconcile with him. Being back in Kentucky as part of Constance's family reunion awakens all sorts of feelings and memories. Julia gets sent to Arizona on assignment with Stone another photographer. All sorts of sparks fly during the trip. You laugh, cry and understand how Julia feels. You cheer at the end when she forgives herself and finds love once again.
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By Laura Crowson on September 4, 2007
Format: Paperback
Okay, so I was on a tight budget and needed a new book...found this in hardcover at the local superstore on the bargain table...what a find! Frances Norris tells a wonderful story of a character coming to grips with the loss of her family, both recently and in the past. The characters are very believable and Norris gives a true feeling of setting without drowning the reader in description. I read this quickly, but still felt satisfied. Very enjoyable read.
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By I. McFarland on August 2, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is both very funny (all the way through) and - not at all incongruously - quite moving (in just the right places). The main character's personal idiosyncrasies, workplace struggles, and awkward family situation are all depicted with a clarity and care that stick with the reader long after the reading is done. I thought it a delightful book.
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