It’s finally that time of tyhe year when I love nothing more than to snuggle on the sofa with a cup of hot coffee, my favourite blanket, candles burning and a good book. Yes, I don’t love this time of the year as I can’t bear the darkness, but knowing I’ll be all cozy in the evenings, makes it a lot better.
You all know that I’m always on the lookout for a great book (so I can get blog material and write yet another book review) and I stumbled across Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler thanks to the girls of chapterchatbookclub, who I don’t know but follow in Instagram. Engaging a bit more with the social media has recently enriched my life, not only because I’ve met people who I love talking to, but it’s providing a never-ending stream of reading material. And thanks to my social media detox, I’ve also learned when to switch off, so I no longer get overwhelmed. But enough about that. What did I think of Sweetbitter, after all this is a book review post. For that, please read on.
I’m a sucker for any book set in New York (or London for that matter). Reading and knowing the streets helps me immerse myself into the character’s world and I can see the buildings rising in front of me while reading. But even if you’ve never visited New York (yet!) Danler’s descriptions of life in a restaurant are so incredibly good that you’ll end up feeling as if you just worked a shift. I could feel the buzz, the heat, the exhaustion and temperaments of the characters throughout the novel and could appreciate the slowly developping taste of a young woman who never ventured into the world of haute cusine before. But that’s where my appreciation ends.
The main charcater, Tess, (whose name I conveniently forgot straight away and only remembered towards the end of the book) is a moron. Pardon my French. She’s moved to NYC in order to…. To… Honestly, I’ve no idea about her motive apart from that everyone wants to move to New York. She lands a job in a prestigious restaurant close to Union Square. Heaven knows how she managed that. Oh no, I know. She’s apparently a looker. Which is all it takes to get a job as a backwaiter. A looker whose favourite food is toast is now working in the world of incredible food and falling for a bartender with a personality of a wet mop.
The book is supposed to be a coming of age novel, but the only development I could see was Tess’s growing coke habit and her appreciation and knowledge of wine, which she picks from Simone, an older woman (well, older than Tess at 22), whose whole life seems to be the restaurant. And that’s the whole plot. Oh, I forgot to mention they go out a lot, do coke, drink and have sex. And then the same thing again and then Tess has a glass of some wine or the other and falls asleep in a bathtub and then the same thing again. Yawn.
As for the characters. They are unmemorable. After reading the book, the only thing I remembered about Jake were his eyes (I think). Simone went to France and lives in a weird bubble. Other characters are … well somewhere. They all seem to have been underdevelopped, which is why you forget about them as quickly as you finish that bottle of wine you had to go out and buy to help you get through this book.
One positive thing that this book did and I have to mention it in this book review, is that it shines a bit of light onto the various restaurant jobs. It’s a world we don’t often glimpse (unless you watch the countless cooking shows, but even those focus more on the kitchen) and it helps to understand how backbreaking a job of a waitress, a food runner, a dish washer, etc. is. So maybe next time we’re in a restaurant, we’ll appreciate them a bit more and it’ll make it easier to part with the tip money.
I’m off to do some cooking now, there’s skate and cherry tomatoes in the fridge and I’m sure they’ll go fabulously well with White Bordeaux or even Alsace Riesling. Medium textured fish and rich full-bodies whites. I have no idea what I’m talking about, but if you don’t want to miss any on my ramblings, please follow me on Twitter or Bloglovin’ (or make my day and join me on Facebook).
Have a great rest of your day! xxx