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Of Literature and Lattes Paperback – May 12, 2020
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From the Publisher
Welcome to Winsome, Illinois, and The Printed Letter Bookshop
“Powerful, enchanting, and spirited, this novel will delight.” —Patti Callahan, bestselling author of Becoming Mrs. Lewis
“The Printed Letter Bookshop is a captivating story of good books, a testament to the beauty of new beginnings, and a sweet reminder of the power of friendship.” —Rachel McMillan, author of Murder in the City of Liberty
About the Author
Katherine Reay is the national bestselling and award-winning author of Dear Mr. Knightley, Lizzy and Jane, The Brontë Plot, A Portrait of Emily Price, The Austen Escape, and The Printed Letter Bookshop. All Katherine’s novels are contemporary stories with a bit of classical flair. Katherine holds a BA and MS from Northwestern University, graduating Phi Beta Kappa, and is a wife, mother, former marketer, and avid chocolate consumer. After living all across the country and a few stops in Europe, Katherine now happily resides outside Chicago, IL. You can meet her at www.katherinereay.com; Facebook: KatherineReayBooks; Twitter: @katherine_reay; or Instagram: @katherinereay.
- Publisher : Thomas Nelson (May 12, 2020)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 336 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0785222049
- ISBN-13 : 978-0785222040
- Item Weight : 9.7 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.5 x 0.82 x 8.4 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #259,529 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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I didn't need a super-polished document that rivals a dissertation; I didn't have to know the details on each character who walks across the screen in my head. I just needed some characters with raggedy edges that may or may not get totally straightened out by the end of the book, and yes, I want another trip to Winsome. Please.
"She stopped at the intersection and pondered the conundrum that was Winsome."
Alyssa Harrison had climbed to the top of the highest peak, only to plummet into the depths of the deepest sea; figuratively speaking, of course. Naturally, her only recourse was to limp home; broke, unemployed, under a cloud of suspicion, driving a car subject to a major breakdown and bereft of personal belongings that were stolen along the way. To make matters worse . . . .much worse . . . her father insists that she stay with her mother.
Jeremy Mitchell thought that opening an up-scale coffee shop in Winsome would solve all of his problems . . . or most of them, anyway. He could live closer to his young daughter, thus being able to spend quality time with her, and he could make a living selling something that he knew an awful lot about . . . coffee. But even though the small town is incredibly friendly and inviting, its residents are also resistent to change . . . . and "Andante" is a gigantic change from the "Daily Brew". . . . . ooops?
There is so much to like about this story; which is both its strength and its weakness. Readers may find it incredibly difficult to choose who or what to concentrate on first, even though many of the characters are already pleasantly familiar from the author's first excursion into Winsome. Curiously, Jeremy's last name is listed differently throughout the book; first as Miller and then as Mitchell. Even though the name confusion is surely an editorial gaffe, it was quite distracting; Jeremy is a main character.
Ultimately of course, "Of Literature and Lattes" exhibits a great deal of proverbial wisdom; terribly damaged relationships take huge steps forward when those involved honestly and lovingly "try to understand each other". And it works beautifully! Enjoy your visit back to a most beloved place!
But there is one thing I definitely hope the author doesn't include in any new books she writes, and that is the head-hopping. She frequently changes point of view with no warning, no line breaks or printer's ornaments or any other signal that we've changed POV until you're halfway through a paragraph and becoming quite puzzled. It's disorienting and amateurish. I was so surprised she went there, as there are so many ways to avoid this in good writing.
But don't let it stop you from reading an otherwise excellent story. Just keep in mind as you read that the handoffs from one character to another might give you a momentary head spin.
That's actually true for the human characters as well, characters I enjoyed getting to know. As Katherine Reay notes in her discussion questions, perspective is a big theme for them, and it comes through great. From one person's perspective, another might look manipulative, perpetually angry, or just plain horrible. That was certainly the case between Alyssa and Janet. But because Katherine lets you get to know everybody, you find out these people are just human. They aren't perfect, idealized, or even nice at times. But Alyssa captures the human side of us when we get in a bad situation, particularly when we're innocent. She's also a good mix of analytical and creative. Janet gives us a human perspective on what it means to change and keep changing. Jeremy does the same thing, owning up to his mistakes and growing into his roles as business owner, father, and leader.
One of the best things about Literature and Lattes, I think, is that the character arcs are not tied up in bows. For instance, Alyssa and Janet both have to face their tendency to "dump on" people when they're angry, which is often. And while they're going to make conscious efforts not to do that anymore, you know they may never be buddy-buddy--and that's okay. Jeremy has to face a huge mistake in trusting the wrong person and letting someone else he should've trusted down. He has to grow a spine where Krista is concerned, and learn to be the dad Becca needs. While he is successful in these endeavors, you get the sense he's still learning, which adds a dose of reality to an otherwise idealized setting.
I liked all the little scenes that added depth to character and relationships throughout the novel, such as when Alyssa interacts with Jasper or Lexi or even her grandma, or when Jeremy reads Of Mice and Men, or reads little kids' books to Becca. There are some great scenes between the three of them, but I applaud Katherine for avoiding the traditional romance route. This feels more like a relationship novel than a romance novel, and I need more of those.
Speaking of relationships, the spiritual thread here is subtle but present. It's almost too subtle, but it's enough to let you read in their actions that the protagonists trust in God, even if they don't always act like it. You sense that Winsome is a town where God is welcome and people want to show His love, from George and Margery taking in foster siblings to Maddie, Claire, and Janet still matchmaking with books, to Alyssa learning to let go of her hubris. I might have wanted a little more at times, but again, it works. I think it's Katherine's style, and in the Christian market, that level of subtlety isn't easy to pull off.
I did find some issues I wish Katherine had worked on. She head-hops frequently, usually without scene breaks, so I had to reorient myself in different points of view multiple times. Also, even though I like that things aren't tied up prettily, there are some loose threads I wish got more attention. A big one was with Jill; I don't buy the fact that she'll be "okay" because eventually the FBI will tell her she got false information. Alyssa made too big a deal of Winsome being involved with XGC for that, and she was right. What probably should've happened is that she and Janet should've connected more with Jill or someone else, and worked on both relationships through the tragedy of XGC.
Another thread is Becca's. She's a great kid with some highly interesting plot threads, but they're not resolved. For one thing, she's suspected to be dyslexic. I love how Jeremy and Maddie help her through that, and I did not need to see a positive test or conversations with the school. But I would have liked to see Becca gaining more confidence, inside and outside of book world. There's also a twist between Becca, Jeremy, and Krista that causes Jeremy to fight for Becca--but we don't actually see him do it. I wanted a resolution wherein I knew Becca would be with the best parent for her, even if everything wasn't ideal.
Finally, I feel like too much time was spent on Alyssa and Janet manipulating, fighting, and dumping. Kudos to Katherine for not making that obvious--it would've worn me out. But there was a point at which, like Seth, I said, "You two have been through way too much to keep going this way. Start acting like decent human beings to each other." It happened, but arguably too late.
With those things said, Of Literature and Lattes was a lovely sequel, and again, I love visiting Winsome. I hope Katherine continues to write books like this, improve on the weak spots, and play to her strengths, which are great communities and three-dimensional, human characters. Until next time, I'd say grab some good literature and your favorite coffee or coffee-like beverage and enjoy.
Top reviews from other countries
I really enjoyed Of Literature and Lattes, it reminded me of the season of fall even though it wasn’t set in that season, but it gave me a sense of renewal and beginnings all at the same time.
My gratitude to Thomas Nelson and NetGalley. All opinions expressed are my own.