Book Review: Luck, Love & Lemon Pie by Amy E. Reichert
“That’s the secret, isn’t it? When the love is real, even when you can’t find it under mountains of hurt feelings and shuttered emotions, it’s not really gone. All it takes is finding one new reason to fall in love. Just one, and all the other reasons become clear again.”
I can now say that I am a Amy Reichert completist. I really enjoy Reichert’s writing, and her books are all lovely stories set in Wisconsin with food as an underlying theme. I picked up Luck, Love & Lemon Pie from the library and finally read it in one sitting on Sunday. MJ Boudreaux and her husband Chris have been married for 20 years, but on their anniversary, Chris is over three hours late for their anniversary lunch because of a poker tournament. MJ decides in order to reconnect with Chris that she will take up poker. However, her grand scheme does not go to plan when she and Chris have to play at different tables on their casino date night. But when she discovers she is actually pretty good at poker, she begins to play as a serious hobby. When she wins a tournament and a trip to Vegas, Chris is not excited for her, and their marriage quickly falls further apart. In Vegas, MJ meets a famous poker player, Doyle Kane, and she likes the attention Doyle is giving her. Is her new life enough to make her give up her marriage?
MJ grew up with a single mom and the town drunk for her father. Her mom owned a bar, and from an early age, MJ worked behind the bar. Because of her childhood, she is an extremely independent person and loathes asking for help, even from Chris. It also does not help that MJ’s enemy from college, Tammie, moves to town, and MJ imagines that Tammie and Chris have started an affair. MJ’s best friend Lisa jokes that MJ never loses her cool about anything, except Tammie. Needless to say, MJ is having a bit of a midlife crisis, what with taking up poker and thinking her husband is having an affair with her college nemesis.
Luck, Love & Lemon Pie reminded me a lot of Landline by Rainbow Rowell, not necessarily in terms of plot, but more in the theme of you’ve been married for a long time with two kids and at some point, you’re more like roommates than lovers. It’s hard for me to imagine myself in MJ and Chris’ shoes, since my husband and I have only been married for almost three years and we don’t have children yet. But it does seem like most marriages go through a phase like this. I obviously cannot relate to that part of the story, but I appreciated Reichert writing such a common issue for many couples. If nothing else, I liked the reminder that no matter how difficult things get, if there is still love, it will be okay. Also communication is key.
Reichert’s books always have an element of food running through them, and Luck, Love & Lemon Pie is no different. The first time MJ met Chris was at a frat party in college where she tried his lemon pie. She loved it and jokingly proposed on the spot. Now every year on their anniversary, Chris makes a lemon pie. Except for this year when he is late to their anniversary lunch. MJ herself is not a great cook or baker; her specialties are scrambled eggs and tacos. Chris is the one in the family who keeps the family fed. I love how the lemon pie is such a symbol for their relationship, especially at the end. Plus it also sounds amazing. Reichert even included the recipe for it in the back of the book.
I have liked all of Reichert’s books, my favorite being The Coincidence of Coconut Cake (think You’ve Got Mail, but with a chef and a food critic). I enjoyed Luck, Love & Lemon Pie, but I had a harder time connecting with this one. If MJ and Chris could have just communicated with each other, a lot of the drama could have been avoided. But that doesn’t really make for a good book, now does it? I give it 3.5 stars.
What are some of your favorite recipes from a novel? I have been itching to try the apple pie from Louise Miller’s The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living.