Friday, November 1, 2013

Audiobook Review: A Place at the Table by Susan Rebecca White

Title:  A Place at the Table

Author:  Susan Rebecca White

Narrators:  Robin Miles, George Newbern, Katherine Powell

Unabridged Length:  9 hrs, 1 mn.

Here is a summary of the book from the Goodreads website:

A Place at the Table tells the story of three richly nuanced characters whose paths converge in a chic Manhattan café: Bobby, a gay Southern boy who has been ostracized by his family; Amelia, a wealthy Connecticut woman whose life is upended when a family secret finally comes to light; and Alice, an African-American chef whose heritage is the basis of a famous cookbook but whose past is a mystery to those who know her.

As it sweeps from a freed-slave settlement in 1920s North Carolina to the Manhattan of the deadly AIDs epidemic of the 1980s to today’s wealthy suburbs, A Place at the Table celebrates the healing power of food and the magic of New York as three seekers come together in the understanding that when you embrace the thing that makes you different, you become whole.

My Review:
I found this to be a very enjoyable novel narrated by different people, depending upon whose perspective is being told.   The summary above indicates we are given the stories from three different characters, and although this is true, it seemed like the story belonged more to Bobby than any of the others.

I loved Bobby's character and the narrator only helped my appreciation of his presence in the novel.  We follow Bobby from the time he is a young boy until he is a famous chef in New York City.  At a young age Bobby is confused about who he is.  He feels out of place quite often because he just doesn't find enjoyment from the things other boys do.  As he grows older he learns the reason for his differences and embraces it, while his mother finds she can no longer look him in  the eye.  When Bobby moves to New York he feels at home as his way of life is accepted more readily and he finds himself excelling in his dreams and endeavors.  

Amelia enters the story as she says good-bye to her marriage.  In an attempt to find the woman she used to be she spends some time with her aunt in New York City.  During this time she uncovers secrets about her family that she never would have guessed.  The long-kept secret brings her in the path of Alice, a woman who found success as a chef years ago and also published a cookbook.   

Alice doesn't work in the restaurant business any longer, but she takes Bobby under her wing, as they test recipes and work on another cookbook together.  Although our main characters lead different lives, they are intertwined and by the end of the novel they offer a friendship to each other that is needed to help them through to the next phase of their lives.

I enjoyed listening to this book and although Bobby's narrator was my favorite, they all did a great job.  With themes of secrets, honesty, and friendship, you may enjoy this book as much as I did.  I don't hesitate in recommending this novel for either personal leisure or as a book club selection.

My Rating:  4/5

Disclosure:  This audiobook was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

In this magnificent, sweeping novel from “first rate talent” (New York Times bestselling author Joshilyn Jackson) Susan Rebecca White, three unforgettable characters bond over their passion for food, hunger for love, and one explosive family secret.

Celebrating the healing power of food and the magic of New York City, A Place at the Table tells the story of three richly nuanced people—Alice Stone, Bobby Banks, and Amelia Brighton—whose paths converge in a chic Manhattan café. What follows their meeting is just as revealing as everything leading up to that moment, as each seeker takes a different, winding path to embracing life and becoming whole.

In the prologue set in North Carolina in 1929, we meet Alice, a young African-American girl who will go on to become a chef. Her heritage is the basis for a renowned cookbook, yet her past is a mystery to everyone who knows her. Born two generations after Alice, Bobby is a young gay man from Georgia who has been ostracized by his family. Realizing he's no longer safe in his own home, he escapes to New York City, where he finds a job as a cook. Amelia, a wealthy Connecticut woman, finds her life upended when a family secret comes to light, and flees to her aunt’s Manhattan apartment to recuperate. While these characters—all exiles from different walks of life—find companionship and careers through cooking, they hunger for the deeper nourishment of communion. The narrative sweeps from a freed-slave settlement in 1920s North Carolina to Manhattan during the deadly AIDS epidemic of the 1980s to the well-heeled hamlet of contemporary Old Greenwich, Connecticut, as Alice, Bobby, and Amelia are asked to sacrifice everything they ever knew or cared about to find authenticity, fulfillment, and love.

Susan Rebecca White’s first two novels were widely praised for her “wit and graceful prose” (Publishers Weekly), her “deeply sympathetic characters” (Mountain Express), and her sharp insights into their inner lives. A Place at the Table reveals a remarkable talent brimming with wisdom, joy, and heart. - See more at:

1 comment:

bermudaonion said...

I listened to this one and loved it. I agree with you on Bobby's narrator - he was outstanding.