Recipe for a Perfect Wife
237 pages

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"A bold, intoxicating, page-turner" – Taylor Jenkins Reid, New York Times bestselling author of Daisy Jones & The Six

A Daily Mail Book of the Week
The #1 Toronto Star Bestseller
The #1 Globe and Mail Bestseller
A Cityline Book Club Pick
A WI Life Magazine Book Club Pick

Featured in The New York Times, Parade, Crime Reads, Refinery29, Westport Magazine, The Every Girl.

When Alice Hale leaves a career 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 the basement, she becomes captivated by its previous owner: 1950s housewife Nellie Murdoch. As Alice cooks her way through the past, she realises that within the pages Nellie left clues about her life.

Soon Alice learns that while a Baked Alaska 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 her own relationship, she begins to take control of her life and protect herself with a few secrets of her own.


"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

"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

"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

"[Brown] excels at bringing the complexities of women's lives to the page, and her latest novel questions how much has really changed for women over the last 60 years. The pacing is brisk, the characters are appealing, and both time lines are equally well realized. Thoughtful, clever, and surprisingly dark."
– Booklist

"Brown skillfully alternates between Alice's modern world and Nellie's in the 1950s. With plentiful historical details (including recipes and depressingly hilarious marriage advice), the pages devoted to Nellie come to life. . . . An engaging and suspenseful look at how the patriarchy shaped women's lives in the 1950s and continues to do so today."
– Kirkus

"Strong, well-drawn women anchor Brown's deeply thought-provoking, feminist novel. The spellbinding dual stories complement each other, raising themes of self-discovery, self-preservation and liberation for two women living eras apart."
– Shelf Awareness

"A powerful, thought-provoking story about the choices that ultimately come to define and liberate two women who lived 60 years apart."
– Shelf Talker

"Deftly narrated."
– WI Life Magazine



Publié par
Date de parution 04 février 2020
Nombre de lectures 3
EAN13 9781789559781
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 1 Mo

Informations légales : prix de location à la page 0,0250€. Cette information est donnée uniquement à titre indicatif conformément à la législation en vigueur.


Legend Press Ltd, 51 Gower Street, London, WC1E 6HJ |
Contents Karma Brown 2020 First published in The United States of America by Dutton, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. The right of the above author to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data available.
Print ISBN 978-1-78955-9-798
Ebook ISBN 978-1-78955-9-781
Set in Times. Printing managed by Jellyfish Solutions Ltd
Cover design by Kari Brownlie |
All characters, other than those clearly in the public domain, and place names, other than those well-established such as towns and cities, are fictitious and any resemblance is purely coincidental.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publisher. Any person who commits any unauthorised act in relation to this publication may be liable to criminal prosecution and civil claims for damages.
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.
Visit Karma at or on Twitter @KarmaKBrown
For my nana, Miriam Ruth Christie, who was a feminist despite the confines of her generation. A from the can cook, she was not known for her kitchen skills but did make a mean Chicken la King. Which I miss, though not as much as I miss her.
And to all the women who have come before me, thank you for lighting the pathway. For those coming after-especially you, Addison Mae-I m sorry the work is not done. I hope we ve left you with enough to finish the job.
Art is a hard mistress, and there is no art quite so hard as that of being a wife.
-Blanche Ebbutt, Don ts for Wives (1913)
You seem to forget that I am married, and the one charm of marriage is that it makes a life of deception absolutely necessary for both parties.
-Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890)
It was late in both day and season for planting, but she had no choice in the matter. Her husband hadn t understood the urgency, having never nurtured a garden. Nor did he hold an appreciation for its bounty, and as a result had been gently irritable with her that morning. Wishing she would focus on more important tasks instead, of which there were many, as they d moved in only the week before. It was true much of the garden could wait-little happened during these later months, as bulbs rested dormant, waiting for the rain and warmth of spring. But this particular plant, with its bell-shaped flowers plentiful, would not be so patient. Besides, it was a gift and came with specific instructions, so there was no alternative but to get it into the ground. Today.
She felt most like herself when she was mucking about in the dirt, singing to and coaxing the buds and leaves. That had been the main reason she loved the house when she first saw it. The garden beds were already prepped, though sparse, and she could envision how they could be transformed into something magnificent. The house itself had felt large and impersonal-especially its many rooms, considering it was only the two of them. However, they were newlyweds still. Plenty of time to make the house a home, to fill it with children and warmth.
Humming a favorite tune, she slid on her gardening gloves as she crouched and, with the trowel, dug out a large circle of earth. Into the hole went the plant, which she held carefully with her gloved fingers so as not to crush the amethyst-colored blossoms. She was comforted as she patted the soil around its roots, the stalk standing nice and straight, the flowers already brightening up the garden. There was plenty of work still ahead, but she lay down on the soft grass, her hands resting like a pillow under her head, and watched the clouds dance in the blue sky above. Excited and ready for all that was to come.
Men like a clean house, but fussing about all the time, upsetting the house in order to keep it clean, will drive a man from the house elsewhere.
-William J. Robinson, Married Life and Happiness (1922)
MAY 5, 2018
When Alice Hale first saw the house-impressive in size though dilapidated and dreary from neglect-she couldn t have known what it had in store for her. Her first thought was how gargantuan it seemed. The Hales lived in a teeny one-bedroom in Murray Hill, which required shuffling sideways to get past the bed and featured a bathroom door that grazed your kneecaps when you sat on the toilet. By comparison this house was a sizable rectangle of symmetrical brick with shuttered windows on either side of a red door nestled into a stone archway, the door s paint peeling like skin after a bad sunburn. Reluctance filled Alice as she imagined walking through the door: Welcome to Greenville, Nate and Alice Hale , she could almost hear the house whisper through the mouthlike mail slot, in a not-at-all-welcoming tone. This is a place where young urban professionals come to die .
The suburb was perfectly lovely, but it wasn t Manhattan. A town a few minutes drive from the better-known and more exclusive Scarsdale, Greenville was less than an hour s train ride from the city and yet was an entirely different world. Wide lawns. Picket fences, many of them predictably white. Sidewalks clean enough to eat off of. No sounds of traffic, which made Alice uneasy. Her left eye twitched, likely the result of having barely slept the night before. She had paced their shoebox-size apartment in Murray Hill in the dark, overwhelmed by the sense that this-the house, Greenville, all of it-would be a terrible mistake. But things always feel dire in the middle of the night, and by morning her insomnia and worries seemed silly. This was the first house they had seen, and no one ever bought the first house.
Nate took her hand, leading her along the sidewalk to look at the house from the side. She squeezed his fingers, followed his gaze as they walked. It s nice, right? he said, and she smiled, hoping the twitching eye wasn t obvious.
Taking in the home s facade-the deep cracks in the cement walkway, the graying picket fence that leaned askew-Alice realized why the house was priced the way it was, though still pushing their budget. Especially now that they were living on one paycheck, which had been Alice s doing and still made her stomach ache with guilt when she thought about it. The house was desperately in need of work. A lot of work . And they hadn t even gone inside yet. She sighed, pressing her fingertips to her eyelid. This is fine , she thought. It s going to be fine .
It s a lot of money, she said. Are you sure we can afford it? She had grown up with nothing extra and sometimes not even the basics; the idea of a mortgage terrified her.
We can. I promise, Nate replied. He was a numbers guy, and good with money, but she remained hesitant.
It has really good bones, he added, and Alice glanced at him, wondering how they were seeing things so differently. Classic, too. Don t you love how solid it looks? Solid . That was what one got for marrying an actuary.
Think the Realtor gave us the right address? If Alice tilted her head just so , it looked as though the house was leaning to the right. Maybe they were in the wrong neighborhood and this home s in-much-better-shape cousin existed elsewhere. Oh, she said Greenwich, not Greenville , Nate might say as he reread the email from their Realtor.
Alice frowned at the eyesore of a front lawn, the lackluster and overgrown grass, wondering what a lawn mower cost. But while everything else appeared unkempt, the flowers that lined the fence-rich pink blooms that looked like they were made from layers of delicate tissue paper-were gorgeous and plentiful, as though they had been tended to only that morning. She tucked her fingers under one of the flowers and leaned in, its perfume intoxicating.
One seventy-three. Nate looked up from his phone and at the tarnished brass house number. Yup, this is it.
A colonial revival, their Realtor, Beverly Dixon, had said while Nate and Alice listened in on speakerphone the evening before. Built in the forties, so it has a few quirks, but with gorgeous detail. Wait until you see the stone archway and the classic layout. This one won t last long, I m telling you, especially at this price. Nate had looked excited as Beverly went on. Alice knew he felt stifled inside their small apartment with its too-few windows and absence of green space and the shockingly steep rent.
Nate had wanted to move out of the city for as long as she d known him. He wanted a yard to throw a ball around in with his children, the way he had with his dad. To have songbirds and summer cicadas wake him each morning rather than delivery trucks. A fixer-upper he could put his stamp on. Having grown up in a Connecticut suburb with still-married parents-one of which was a stay-at-home mother-and two siblings as accomplished as he was, Nate s vision of family life was naively rosy.
Alice loved their perfectly cozy apartment, with a landlord who handled leaky faucets and fresh coats of paint and a new refrigerator when theirs conked out last spring. She wanted to stay living ten blocks from her best friend, Bronwyn Murphy, whose place Alice escaped to when she needed a break from living in a shoebox with a man. Nate was, to be fair, tidie

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