I am always up for a novel in letters (84, Charing Cross Road, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Meet Me at the Museum). I like the challenge of piecing together a picture of each character through the way the letter writers describe the landscape of their lives. This novel has the added pleasures of being partially set in the Northwest and being initiated by a shared interest in food. So many delicious sounding meals and recipes were sprinkled throughout that it made me want to experiment in the kitchen myself.
In 1963, L.A. resident Joan Bergstrom writes Imogen Fortier a fan letter for her column on harvesting clams on Camano Island, sending her a packet of saffron and a recipe for mussels. When Imogen responds, the two begin a friendship that grows deeper with each letter. As Joan and Imogen weather both personal and national events, their letters prove a lifeline and a confessional to their own struggles. This is a beautiful depiction of female friendship and a snapshot of a time in Seattle when Pike Place Market was fighting for survival and Shorey’s bookstore was still around. Fay doesn’t shy away from difficult topics, and the result is a relationship between two women that is bracing and honest. A true delight of a book.
–Lori, Island Books, Mercer Island, WA