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Bread and Butter Paperback – November 4, 2014


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My Struggle: Book Four
Eighteen-year-old Karl Ove moves to a tiny fishing village in the Arctic Circle to work as a school teacher. As the nights get longer, the shadow cast by his father's own sharply increasing alcohol consumption, also gets longer. Read the full description
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor; Reprint edition (November 4, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345805437
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345805430
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #854,708 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Brothers Leo and Britt are co-owners of Winesap, a popular restaurant in their small, economically depressed hometown on the outskirts of Philadelphia. They have always considered their younger sibling, Harry, a bit of a dilettante. While they’ve been chained to a hot stove, Harry has flitted in and out of academia and flirted with one career after another. So imagine their surprise when Harry announces that he’s opening a restaurant of his own, virtually right down the street. Is Linden big enough for two family enterprises? Can Harry stand the heat or will he have to get out of the kitchen? As the brothers test this recipe for potential disaster, they break a few industry rules (never date the help or the clients), push the culinary envelope (lambs’ necks, anyone?), and eventually learn the true meaning of family, friendship, and the secret to a killer soufflé. Food journalist Wildgen has the professional chops to whip up a debut delicacy that’s as complex as a rich cassoulet and as comforting as good ol’ mac-and-cheese. --Carol Haggas --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

“Wildgen serves up romantic intrigue . . . along with a generous dollop of satire as sharp as a prep knife. . . . A divinely delicious read.” —O, The Oprah Magazine
 
“Michelle Wildgen’s captivating story of sibling rivalry puts a whole new spin on family dinner. Bread and Butter has the complete meal, soup to nuts: a stirring love story, an engrossing drama.” —Jennifer Gilmore, author of The Mothers
  
“A story of family feuds and foie gras.” —The New York Post
 
“Wildgen’s . . . as skilled at the mechanics of whipping up a well-crafted story as she is describing how to make a béarnaise. . . . A tremendous feast of a novel.” —The Millions 

“The restaurant industry, with its relentless push for reinvention and obsession with the new, is brutal. But so is getting old, Wildgen’s novel will remind you. . . The pages start flying when Stray ramps up business. . . . Three words for you: Food Nerds Unite.” —The New York Times Book Review
 
 “Wildgen couples vivid description with crisp prose, putting the reader right in the scene—and right at the table. . . . Purely delicious.” —The Miami Herald
 
“Filled with tasty insider details, from the tyranny of molten chocolate cake to the politics of dining at the bar.” —Vogue
 
“A marvel of culinary and literary delights. Not since the great M.F.K. Fisher has a writer taken such care to explore the intimate and sensual relationships between food, love and family. . . . A novel to be savored.” —Amber Dermont, author of The Starboard Sea
 
“A witty and finely observed work that succeeds both as a literary novel and a pleasure read.” —Isthmus

“Wildgen . . . mixes tempers, ambition and libidos into a savory read.” —Wisconsin State Journal

“Goes down like comfort food.” —Entertainment Weekly   

Bread and Butter shows a writer at the top of her craft addressing a subject for which her passion and curiosity is palpable. And her thematic material — the strength of familial bonds in the face of stress and strain — is a perfect fit to her setting, where despite broken dishwashers, no-show staff members, and cuts and burns, something delicious almost always comes out of the kitchen.” —The Capital Times

“A lively novel with an engaging narrative of the restaurant biz. . . . High-end restaurants are complex microcosms and with her wonderfully descriptive style and an obvious understanding of the restaurant business, Wildgen uses these settings, sometimes volatile (think middle of a dinner rush when the chef is missing), sometimes relaxing (in the morning before the staff arrives for dinner prep) to explore the intimacy and fragility of families, the complicated relationships among people who work closely together, and the difficult task of serving customers like ourselves. After reading Bread and Butter it's almost certain that your next restaurant experience will likely not be perceived as it was before.” —The Oregonian 

“Four stars for Bread and Butter, Michelle Wildgen’s saucy tale of three foodie brothers at each other’s throats.” —Vanity Fair

 

Customer Reviews

Too bad...it was an interesting premise.
booklover343
This was the first book I've read in a long time where I would start and stop and try to start again as I just wasn't excited to continue.
Katherine Chan
I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a quick and entertaining read...nothing too heavy here.
A book lover in Azle Texas

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Red Rock Bookworm TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 1, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
If running a restaurant is a daily balancing act of time, money and creativity, brothers Britt and Leo are performing a successful high wire act at Winesap, the most cosmopolitan and pricey dining establishment in their home-town of Linden, just outside Philadelphia. Enter their well educated, well traveled intense and charming younger brother, Harry, who decides to open a small but innovative bistro in a "bold and foolhardy" part of town and begins a case of restaurateur sibling rivalry.

While this book is filled with behind the scenes recipes and details that food enthusiasts will definitely appreciate, I personally found the narrative a bit plodding and pedestrian and a few of the various concoctions described to be a little avant-garde for my obviously unrefined palate. The romantic aspects of the story as well as the brother's pseudo problems and rivalry are yawn producing and appear to be an afterthought in what should have been a non-fiction behind the scenes look at the restaurant business.

This is a case where the writer's descriptive excursions into food preparation is the tasty "bread and butter" portion of the novel but the character development and story line are hopelessly bland and without flavor.

Reading BREAD AND BUTTER is akin to eating a full meal at one of those restaurants where the main course is little more than a taste and you come away feeling hungry. Personally, I'd prefer more emotionally satisfying reading material, sort of like a bowl of tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Nitty's Mom TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 4, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Bread and Butter is sheer delight to read from beginning to end. It makes you forget about the 12 inches of snow outside, as you follow a truly delightful cast of characters as they navigate the ins and outs of the restaurant business, family dynamics and love.

Leo and his brother Britt have worked together for years and their restaurant Winesap located approximately 1 ½ hours out of Philadelphia is running smoothly. Stoic Leo runs the back and Britt, with his flawless eye for detail and swagger, the front of the restaurant. When their younger brother Harry moves back home and decides to open his own restaurant, a few blocks away in the seedier part of town, he looks to his older brothers for help and guidance. Harry's restaurant will come to mean different things to the three brothers. For Harry, the culmination of years of starts and stops in many other endeavors. For Leo, an eye-opener to the fact that maybe he has become complacent and needs to jump start both Winesap's menu and his own life. For Britt, a chance to prove he is not "just the face of the restaurant" but can also be the brains. Family being family, it does not take long for cracks in their relationships to emerge and what moves the story engagingly along is the why and how they crumble. The author is able to bring the sibling rivalry, jealousy, and resentments that turn little molehills into giant mountains to life. That being said, these character do grow and change.

Bread and Butter perfectly captures the atmosphere and minutiae of restaurant life. The reader is also privy to scrumptious insider details of what really goes on in your favorite restaurant. While you need not be a connoisseur, the food descriptions were mouth watering.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Ellen W. VINE VOICE on February 10, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
One of my favorite web-celebrities maintains that bad is the absence of good, but I disagree. However, I can see where he's coming from. I have read much worse books than "Bread and Butter," books I hated, books that infuriated me, books that made me want to throw them across the room. But in even the worst books, I usually find something of interest-- a memorable scene or character, or even just prose that's so bad it's good.

But "Bread and Butter" elicited little response from me at all. There just wasn't much to pull me in or spark my imagination. I think the main problem here is that, instead of being a book about characters who work in the restaurant industry, it's a fictionalized account of working in the restaurant industry with characters who are little more than props. They're just so typical and undetailed-- Britt is the one with an eye for style and a gift for faking intimacy with customers, Leo is the introverted one who runs things but keeps to himself, Harry is the young, creative one with a sort of bohemian lifestyle. Plots with boring characters can work, but the plot here doesn't really get started until about 100 pages in. The set-up takes way too long and just isn't interesting at all. The characters sit around and talk about interior design, menus, whether their restaurants are too conservative or too bold; we hear them mull over their conflicts with each other, over and over. There is some stuff on the politics of the restaurants, but most of it isn't particularly funny. Nothing really happens with the romantic interests, either (neither of which are very interesting).

I will say that Wildgen writes about food very well. Reading this book made me hungry (for food I can't afford, but that's beside the point). She also gets the industry right.
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More About the Author

Michelle Wildgen is the author of the novels Bread and Butter, But Not For Long, and You're Not You, as well as the editor of the anthology Food & Booze: A Tin House Literary Feast. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, O, the Oprah Magazine, Best Food Writing, Best New American Voices, and several anthologies, including Death by Pad Thai, Naming the World, and Dirty Words.

She lives in Madison, Wisconsin, the setting of her first two novels and the city to which she returned in 2007 after seven years in the greater New York area. Now she's one of those overjoyed shoppers who linger at the farmers markets, engaging passersby in conversations about shallots. She writes about memorable food and nervous people, finally relinquished the dream of making her own mozzarella, and saw her quality of life sky-rocket after discovering the concept of "weekday cake."

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