Estelle: Recipe for a Happy Life by Brenda Janowitz

Recipe for a Happy Life by Brenda JanowitzRecipe for a Happy Life by Brenda Janowitz ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: July 2, 2013
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Pages: 336
Target audience: adult
Keywords: summer in the Hamptons, mothers/daughters, moving forward
Format read: ARC eBook provided by author. (Thank you!)

Summary: After a mini-disaster, Hannah, a lawyer in NYC, escapes to the Hamptons for the summer to spend time with her grandmother and figure things out.

When it’s starting to get super frigid outside, there’s nothing like reading a book about the summertime.

Recipe for a Happy Life contains so many of the details I love to read about: the Hamptons, complicated grandmother/mother/ daughter relationships, and a perfect pinch of romance to spice things up.

Hannah is at her wit’s end when her boyfriend’s mother accuses her of trying to kill her boyfriend (it was a mistake! he’s alive!) and runs off to the comfort of her grandmother. Never being close with her always on the go, legendary photographer mother, Hannah finds comfort in her glamorous and generous grandmother (who has been married multiple times) and though she never feels like she can live up to her grandmother’s expectations, she is happy to be in her presence. (Even if this means attending parties she doesn’t want to go to and being dressed up in expensive clothes.)

As you can probably guess, Hannah’s hope for a “no drama” few months in the Hamptons is anything but. When she bumps into Nate, a guy she went to law school with and pretty much loathes, she can’t seem to get rid of him and soon realizes, maybe she doesn’t really want to. Then there’s her mother’s visit, countless frosty interactions and a hidden family secret that comes to the surface and threatens to break bonds just as more bad news comes crashing down.

It may seem like a lot (and it is, for one summer) but Janowitz balances all of the unfortunate news with some vibrant supporting characters like the charming Nate, rock star Jaime, and teenaged Hunter who injects a certain amount of innocence and comedy into these pages. I swear, his character is so memorable and I loved how Hunter and Hannah formed an unlikely (but much needed for both) bond during this summer. Janowitz’s attention to her secondary characters truly made Recipe for a Happy Life stand out amongst other beachy dramas.

This book was practically burning a hole in my bag. Every time I had to put it down, I couldn’t wait for the next free moment when I could pick it up again. All of the life-altering events that occur during Hannah’s summer seem so necessary to her growth as a person and also assisted her in letting go of old prejudices she had held onto for years. By the end of the book, she is more independent, more understanding of her family, and also has a clearer focus on what she wants for the future.

I am officially a Brenda Janowitz fan!

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10 thoughts on “Estelle: Recipe for a Happy Life by Brenda Janowitz

  1. Quinn @ Quinn's Book Nook says:

    I love it when I discover a new author that I love. Also, I am a big fan of reading books out of season. If it’s freezing cold winter, I love books set during the hottest months of Summer. And if I’m sweating buckets, bring on the winter books.

  2. alice-jane says:

    This book sounds wonderful and offers a great escape from the freezing cold weather that I’m experiencing right now! (-21C). I’m happy that the unfortunate news in the book is balanced out since I’m wary of characters with a lot of unfortunate happenings. Also, it’s good to know that the things that happened in the book, despite how bad they may have seemed allowed Hannah to grow.

  3. Alexa S. says:

    You’ve seriously got to stop doing this to me, E. Every time you write about a book (especially adult fiction), you convince me that it warrants at least a try! (Obviously, this went straight onto my list of books to check out). But seriously, Recipe for a Happy Life sounds pretty darn good!

  4. Meg says:

    Sounds so good! I feel like I read a book by Janowitz many moons ago — the name rings a bell — but now I can’t remember. Off to investigate!

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