Book Review

Recipe for a Perfect Wife

Recipe for a Perfect Wife

Karma Brown

Dutton, 21 Jan 2020

336 pages

Women’s Lit

Provided by NetGalley

⭐⭐⭐🌙

I like the concept of the cover with one exception. Can you guess what it is? If you’ve been reading my reviews for any length of time about cover art, I’ll bet you can. Yup! Uncover that poor woman’s face! I know, she’s supposed to be the unknown housewife from the past that’s been writing all these crazy recipes and notes, but this is just a bit weird.

Can anyone tell me why women always go along with what the man wants when it comes to buying a house? If he wants to live in the city and she wants the country, they live in a city condo. If she wants to live in the city and work, but he wants to live in the country to golf, he gets the best country club membership around and she has to garden to compete with all the club wives whether she knows how or not.

Well, in this book, we have two wives. One is from the 1950s when women put some of the “most interesting” combinations together in a dish and called it a casserole or salad. When women put everything but the kitchen sink in jello and served it up to company with a dab of mayonnaise or whipped topping. This wife also has a very green thumb and grows some very interesting things in her garden. She is never seen without a long-sleeved top on in any weather.

The other wife is a modern wife. She wanted to stay in the city and keep her job, but she goofed up and ended up getting fired. But she hasn’t told her husband that. Her husband bought her this wonderful big house in the country with this fabulous garden. It just needs a bit of fixing up. It’s a bit neglected these days. She says it’s more house than they can handle, but he says they’ll work on it. But he goes off to work every day and she’s left at home to try to fix it up a bit here and a bit there. But they really don’t have the money to do much fixing up. She meets the next-door neighbor who tells her a little bit about the former owner and she gets curious. She pokes around the house a bit and finds a cookbook. The cookbook is full of recipes with notes in the margins and added ingredients. She starts making some of these recipes and getting fascinated with the era. She does some 1950s decorating around the house and dresses in the styles of the time.

The modern housewife reads the cookbook, listens to the next-door neighbor, and researches the previous housewife. She comes to some conclusions about things. She finds magazines in the cellar with notes and more recipes tucked in them and figures some things out from there. What does she find out about the former housewife’s husband and his demise? What does she find out about her new garden and the old cookbook? What does she do about it? Will we find out answers to all of these questions in Recipe for the Perfect Wife? I found parts of the book to drag and just go over some similar ground for too long or to seem to go into scenes that didn’t seem to move the book forward. This happened, particularly in the 50s party parts. Too much detail made things drag. Though for the most part, it was quite good. I’d recommend it for those who like period pieces of the 50s.

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