This month's theme is something short. Thanks to all of the $.99 ebook bargains to be found, I have quite a few shorts waiting for me on my Kindle. Then the other day I read Mean Fat Old Bat's review of Table for One by Ros Clarke and SNAP! I have that book. So I came home from work, got on the treadmill and half an hour later I'd finished the book and my workout. Nice, huh?
And so was the book. Nice. It was a sweet little read that made my half hour on the treadmill fly by and well worth my $.99. Table for One is the story of Claudia, a food critic, who winds up unexpectedly dining alone on Valentine's Day at Ward's, a trendy restaurant named for it's chef. Claudia had planned to eat there with her boyfriend, but he breaks up with her just before their date that evening. Claudia goes to Ward's anyway and Ward finds himself curious when, on Valentine's Day of all days, an order comes back to the kitchen for a meal for someone dining alone. Ward changes the menu just for Claudia and the two have a brief battle of wills as Claudia wants what everyone else is having, but Ward wants to feed her something that will make her feel better about dining alone.
One thing quickly leads to another and at the end of the evening Claudia accompanies Ward upstairs to his apartment. However, Claudia needs to own up to the fact that she's a food critic and when she finally does so Ward goes ballistic and kicks her out. At home Claudia digs a little into Ward's background and she begins to understand why he reacted so strongly to the fact that she's a journalist.
Eventually Claudia goes back to Ward with an apology and Ward, who had been having a hard time forgetting her, accepts her apology and the book ends with two people who sense that they are at the start of something special.
What I think made this book especially engaging is the way Clarke used food to set the mood, enhance the sensuality, and give us a deeper look into both characters. For example, after Ward kicks Claudia out of his apartment, he goes into his kitchen to bake some bread. He uses kneading the dough as a way to physically work through his anger. Food permeates the story in all kinds of ways. Don't read this on an empty stomach!
But do read it. So, is it lunch time yet?