Tuesday, July 21, 2020

"Of Literature and Lattes" by Katherine Reay

I was a little worried when I started this book because I've been seeing some reviews from people who did not like it as much as Katherine Reay's last book, The Printed Letter Bookshop.  In fact, some of them liked it considerably less.  You know what I learned from this?  I learned I need to quit reading reviews before I read books by authors I already love.

Of Literature and Lattes takes place in Winsome, the same fictional Illinois town as Printed Letter.  And the main characters from that previous book do show up in this one, but only one of them is a major part of the story.

Alyssa Harrison's life falls completely apart one day, when the FBI shut down her employer and launch an investigation into its practices.  Broke and friendless, she moves home to Winsome, hoping to stay with her dad while she tries to figure out what to do next.  But he insists she needs to stay with her mom, Janet, who works at the Printed Letter Bookshop.

To say Alyssa and Janet rub each other the wrong way is a gross understatement.  Their mother-daughter relationship is in shambles, and neither of them is sure it can ever be salvaged.

Meanwhile, Jeremy Mitchell moves to Winsome to be close to the little daughter who's growing up without him.  He buys the local coffee shop, renovates it, and then can't figure out why his business starts failing the very first day it's reopened.  

Jeremy and Alyssa both learn to appreciate the difference between change for the sake of change, and changing and growing into something better.  They also experience the grace of being given second, third, even fourth chances by the people around them, including those they've hurt the most.  I am not sure if I loved this book more than The Printed Letter Bookshop, but I can safely say that it ties with it for my favorite Reay work.  

(Mine from my Instagram.  Mug is from Crabapple Books & More.)

Particularly Good Bits:  

...dwelling on the unknown, the past, and all the questions she couldn't answer would get her nowhere.  But it was hard too because -- as Lexi said -- she was often too deep in her own head (p. 101).

If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It: PG-13 for discussion of an unwed pregnancy and some potentially distressing discussions of Alzheimer's and other diseases.  No bad language, no smut, no violence.

This is my 27th book read off my TBR shelves for #TheUnreadShelfProject2020.


  1. This was a fun one, but I honestly thought it ended too quickly, and there wasn't as much character development as in PLB. My favorite Katherine Reays are Lizzie & Jane and Dear Mr. Knightley. 😊

    1. Samantha, it did wind up pretty quickly, though I liked that not everything was resolved because... life doesn't always resolve everything neatly, and it's looking like there will be another book!

      My other favorites of hers are The Portrait of Emily Price and Dear Mr. Knightley.

  2. This sounds really sweet and homey....including thanks to bookshop and coffee shop backdrops. :)

    1. Ruth, it was definitely sweet and homey! But very tense in some parts, as I wanted characters to just get along already! And yes, hanging out in this small town, with those two locales in particular, felt very... comfortable and familiar :-)


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