Monday, July 7, 2014
Review: 'Bread and Butter'
By Michelle Wildgen
Three brothers, two restaurants and falling in love are the ingredients in Michelle Wildgen's winning Bread and Butter, a quiet novel about familiar satisfactions.
Britt and Leo never really left their hometown. Leo started, and Britt soon came in to run the front, of Winesap, a refined yet comfortable restaurant named for the trees in their parents' yard. The restaurant is a well-oiled machine and the brothers are growing middle-aged settling in as essential cogs of that machinery.
Younger brother Harry has kicked around here and there, dividing his time between university courses and cooking. His exploits have included travel, a stint in an Alaskan salmon cannery and cookng at a self-sustaining restaurant on a Michigan island. He's back home now, too, and plans to open his own restaurant. The older two are skeptical but not unencouraging. Until Harry's vision clicks for one of the brothers and he becomes Harry's partner, dividing his time between the new place and Winesap.
At the same time, Britt, who appears as confident, is slightly rattled by the appearance of a confident woman who begins dining at Winesap regularly and who knows Harry. Then Leo's eyes are finally opened about someone who has been there the whole time.
That the ensuing complications and conflicts arise not from the men falling in love with these women -- although their falling in love opens them both up -- is one of the calm delights of this novel. It's a pleasure to read a book that is not about brothers fighting over women or fighting over who is smarter and the better entrepreneur and the more accomplished foodie.
Rather, it is a pleasure to read a novel about brothers who love each other, get to know each other and themselves a bit better, and who enjoy what they are doing.
Also, the parts about food are delicious. Wildgen knows what she is writing about, whether it is family or food.
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