Karma Brown is an award-winning journalist and bestselling author of the novels Come Away With Me, The Choices We Make, In This Moment, and The Life Lucy Knew. In addition to her novels, Brown's writing has appeared in publications such as Self, Redbook, Canadian Living, Today's Parent, and Chatelaine. IG: @karmakbrown Twitter: @KarmaKBrown
BOOK OF THE MONTH
Recipe for a Perfect Wife: A Novel is Bookclubz' Book of the Month.
Use these discussion questions to guide your next meeting.
ABOUT THE BOOK
In this captivating dual narrative novel, a modern-day woman finds inspiration in hidden notes left by her home’s previous owner, a quintessential 1950s housewife. As she discovers remarkable parallels between this woman’s life and her own, it causes her to question the foundation of her own relationship with her husband — and what it means to be a wife fighting for her place in a patriarchal society.
When Alice Hale leaves a career in publicity to become a writer and follows her husband to the New York suburbs, she is unaccustomed to filling her days alone in a big, empty house. But when she finds a vintage cookbook buried in a box in the old home's basement, she becomes captivated by the cookbook’s previous owner — 1950s housewife Nellie Murdoch. As Alice cooks her way through the past, she realizes that within the cookbook’s pages Nellie left clues about her life —including a mysterious series of unsent letters penned to her mother.
Soon Alice learns that while baked Alaska and meatloaf five ways may seem harmless, Nellie's secrets may have been anything but. When Alice uncovers a more sinister--even dangerous —side to Nellie’s marriage, and has become increasingly dissatisfied with the mounting pressures in her own relationship, she begins to take control of her life and protect herself with a few secrets of her own.
THE DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
What similar challenges do Alice and Nellie face in their marriages? What are the differences between these two relationships? Do you think these similarities and differences are products of the different personalities at play, or of the different eras that these relationships occur in?
Food plays a role in bonding the characters in this book together and also in creating power dynamics. Do you see food playing a similar role in your won life, ever? Did you relate to the ways Alice and Nellie emotionally connected with the dished they prepared?
Was it a mistake for Alice to agree to leave Manhattan? Does running away from your problems ever work out? What personal experiences have you had trying to start over in a new place?
Recipe for a Perfect Wife: A Novel
"Recipe for a Perfect Wife is a bold, intoxicating, page-turner. Karma Brown has long been a favorite of mine and this book is proof she just keeps getting better and better. This is a thrilling, audacious story about women daring to take control."
— Taylor Jenkins Reid, New York Times bestselling author of Daisy Jones & The Six
"Recipe for a Perfect Wife masterfully bridges the lives of two women, living sixty years apart, who refuse to fall victim to the patriarchy. While Karma Brown’s signature style remains, it’s laced with something sinister and dark. A brilliant, brooding, timely novel, fraught with tension, that packs a punch. Brown knows how to keep readers riveted until the very last page."
— Mary Kubica, New York Times bestselling author of The Good Girl
"A sly, smart look at two women across two different decades as they navigate marriage, secrets, and society’s expectations. Brown’s vivid storytelling deftly explores the joys and limitations of the role of wife – a wonderful read."
— Fiona Davis, national bestselling author of The Chelsea Girls
"I already knew that Karma Brown’s contemporary novels are exemplars of thoughtful, compelling, and truly original fiction. What I didn’t know before reading Recipe For a Perfect Wife is that she is equally at home when writing historical fiction. In her hands, the constrained and often suffocating lives of 1950s women--illuminated in a deftly handled dual narrative that alternates between the present day and 60 years ago — are revealed with real sensitivity, depth, and at times tenderness. And true to Karma Brown, this is also a nail-biter of a tale, and one that kept me up long past my bedtime. This is a delicious and thoroughly satisfying book."
— Jennifer Robson, bestselling author of The Gown
"Karma Brown has outdone herself with best book yet. Dual storylines set decades apart offer one of the most emotionally stirring explorations of women’s lives I have ever read. Recipe for a Perfect Wife is page-turning look at identity, love, legacy, marriage, and yes--food. I devoured it!"
— Jamie Brenner, bestselling author of Drawing Home
"Recipe for a Perfect Wife is as witty, charming, and insightful as anything Karma Brown has written to date, but it’s also got something more: it cuts straight to the heart of modern marriage by going back in time. Flawless transitions between past and present remind us of how far we’ve come while Brown’s penetrating prose deftly underscores the importance of staying the course on the journey ahead. This timely novel is alarming and unforgettable, illuminating and ominous—and perfect for your next book club discussion!"
— Marissa Stapley, bestselling author of The Last Resort
"Recipe for a Perfect Wife is that wonderful combination of fun to read, thought provoking, and mystery. Told in the voices of two women living in different decades and sprinkled with recipes and advice on how to be a good wife, it makes the reader consider how the roles of women have changed and how they’ve stayed the same. Karma Brown made me smile and gasp in equal measure, and to reach for my mom’s old recipe box."
— Ann Hood, author of The Knitting Club
This Book of the Month is sponsored in partnership with Dutton.