Sunday, January 19, 2014

"Tomorrow There Will Be Apricots," by Jessica Soffer

Jessica Soffer’s novel, “Tomorrow There Will be Apricots” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013), is the bittersweet story of how two lonely people in New York connect. One is a young teenager, Lorca, whose mother, a chef, is (unaccountably, it seems, although there are mentions of her own unhappy childhood) insensitive and neglectful; Lorca spends much of her time planning ways to get her mother’s attention and make her happy. The other is an older woman, Victoria, former co-owner and chef at a Middle Eastern restaurant, recently widowed, who can’t stop thinking about the baby she gave up for adoption some 40 years before. What draws the two together, besides their loneliness, is food; both are natural cooks, and both love to prepare it and serve it to others. The novel's descriptions of the intriguing, delicious, and comforting food, and its meaning to the main characters, are bonus sources of enjoyment for readers. Both of these characters are damaged, but they both have compelling and engaging personalities, they both still have hope, and they both are fortunate to have others in their lives who care about them. During the course of the novel’s main events, over a period of a couple of weeks, the story goes back in time to reveal the histories of the characters; then during the main events portrayed in the novel, new secrets are revealed. The novel is both touching and heartbreaking, but also optimistic about the power of human connections. This is a book I picked up in the library, without having read any reviews, or even having heard of the author; I am glad I did.

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