“Recipe for a Perfect Wife” offers a dual narrative between two women who lived 60 years apart. The novel switches between Alice, a modern day woman, and Nellie, a 1950’s housewife. Although it is a predictable read, it is an entertaining book.
The story begins with Alice and Nate Hale moving from New York City to the suburbs. Alice leaves a career in public relations with a big firm to write a book. She is a hard character to like because she lies.
Alice has been fired from her job in the city, but tells her husband she quit. She also hasn’t even begun writing her book. While de-cluttering the house she and Nate bought, which came move-in ready, she finds a vintage cookbook and old magazines left by the previous owner Nellie Murdoch. Alice, who was never much of cook, works her way through recipes in the cookbook.
Alice’s neighbor Miriam was Nellie’s confidant and friend. Miriam gives Alice a stack of letters that Nellie wrote to her mother but never mailed, leaving them with Miriam for safe keeping. As Alice reads the letters she becomes obsessed with Nellie.
Nellie was a model 1950’s wife; she cooked, kept the house clean, hosted great parties, maintained beautiful gardens, and doted over her husband Richard. That was until he began having affairs and became physically abusive. Nellie is very likeable. Although she is stuck in a typically male dominated home and era, she comes up with a brilliant plan.
This is a fun book to read. Each of its chapters begins with one of Nellie’s recipes or a quote on “How to Be the Perfect Wife,” quotes that are hilarious. Reading this page turner, you’ll learn a lot about life in the 1950’s and about the strength of women. In the end both woman learn how to achieve happiness.