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The Goddesses of Kitchen Avenue: A Novel

The Goddesses of Kitchen Avenue: A Novel

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by Barbara Samuel
     
 

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Trudy Marino never expected her life to turn out perfectly. But at forty-six, she was content with what she did have: her caring husband Rick . . . twenty-plus happy years raising three accomplished kids . . . and a lovely house in the artistic, vibrantly diverse town of Pueblo, New Mexico. But a heartbreaking discovery and a suddenly shattered marriage now has

Overview

Trudy Marino never expected her life to turn out perfectly. But at forty-six, she was content with what she did have: her caring husband Rick . . . twenty-plus happy years raising three accomplished kids . . . and a lovely house in the artistic, vibrantly diverse town of Pueblo, New Mexico. But a heartbreaking discovery and a suddenly shattered marriage now has Trudy looking back on the choices she didn’t make—and where she might go from here.

Struggling to pick up the pieces, Trudy finds support from a quirky, eclectic group of friends and neighbors—her goddesses of Kitchen Avenue—all of whom are trying in their own unique ways to navigate life’s little surprises. There’s Jade, a fiery social worker who’s finding unexpected strength to deal with her “player” ex-husband, thanks to a most unorthodox passion; Jade’s grandmother, Roberta, who has just lost her husband of sixty-two years—and through memory and piercing grief wonders what to do with the rest of her life; Shannelle, Trudy’s young neighbor and an aspiring writer, determined to realize her talent despite formidable obstacles . . . including the husband who’s afraid her success will be his loss; and Angel, a young, quietly-knowing photographer who makes Trudy uncover a sensuality she never knew—even as he tries to get over the one love he can never really forget.

As Trudy faces her future, she discovers that figuring out what to let go and what to keep is just as difficult as moving on. As she weighs what she and Rick still share against new possibilities, she’ll surprise everyone— including herself—as she tries to reconcile the best of both.

From an acclaimed voice in fiction, this is a wry, beguiling, heartfelt, and warmly wise novel about second chances, unexpected choices, and the dreams that we all hunger to fulfill.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“A COMPELLING EMOTIONAL PORTRAIT . . . Samuel’s writing is a gift to readers, her voice a demand for us to feel everything in our lives and to meet it with courage . . . a truly luminous novel.”
Contra Costa Times

“Barbara Samuel’s writing is, quite simply, splendid. . . . These women are as familiar as your next-door neighbor and as exotic as the goddesses who archetype their lives. Samuel soars with genius in the humanity of her storytelling.”
BookPage

“Warmhearted . . . [Samuel’s] characters are warmly drawn and sympathetic, their problems real and believable.”
Publishers Weekly

Publishers Weekly
Unhappily separated from her husband at the start of this warmhearted but uneven novel by Samuel (A Piece of Heaven, etc.), 46-year-old Trudy tries to put her life back together with the help of her friends on Kitchen Avenue in Pueblo, Colo. Trudy wants to forget Rick, who cheated on her for months before she found a series of incriminating e-mails, but she still loves him desperately and can't give up hope that they might get back together. With plenty of free time on her hands-her three children are mostly grown and her job as a university secretary is undemanding-she finds herself wondering whether it's too late to travel to Spain and study poetry, things she planned to do before she married Rick and got pregnant. Meanwhile, Roberta, the elderly black woman next door, is mourning the loss of her husband, Edgar; Jade, Roberta's gorgeous social worker granddaughter, is trying to forget her jailbird ex-husband by training to be a boxer; and 24-year-old Shannelle, a mother of two, is struggling to be a writer despite the opposition of her blue-collar husband. All four women look out for one another, exchanging gossip, massages, lemon cake and advice. The arrival of a new neighbor, sultry Spanish photographer Angel, gives Trudy fresh confidence and encourages her to take control of her fate. The abrupt cuts from one woman's story to the next make for choppy reading, and Samuel relies rather heavily on New Age homilies, but her characters are warmly drawn and sympathetic, their problems real and believable. (Feb.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Grab bag of poetry, goddess lore, e-mails-and oh, yeah, a story. Trudy Marino is 46, coping with loneliness and self-doubt when her husband Rick leaves her for a younger woman. Good thing Trudy has a rainbow assortment of politically correct, culturally inclusive friends of all ages and social classes to see her through! In alternating POVs, meet Jade, a tough-talking, kick-boxing African-American social worker with a heart of gold; her grandmother Roberta, whose husband of 62 years has just died; Shanelle, a white-trash girl and proud of it, married to a non-macho Latino who supports her dreams of making it as a writer; and Angel, the tawny, brawny photographer from Spain who just moved in next door to Trudy. When not sipping Sleepytime tea and munching bowls of Nutrigrain cereal and bathing in organic lavender oil by candlelight and listening to Spanish guitar music and reading the poetry of Garc'a Lorca, Trudy thinks it all over. Is she ready to explore her middle-aged, wild-woman sensuality at last, even though she pines for Rick and his graying goatee? Gee, Angel is so young. Why does he want to photograph her? Maybe she'd better ask a goddess: she changes deities once a month, creating new household altars for the likes of Kali, the great destroyer; Yemaya, the African goddess of the rivers and oceans; Hecate, the gray crone, etc. Maybe they know why this handsome Angel was, ahem, sent to her. But he speaks for himself in a way that captivates our bashful heroine: "I am here in this neighborhood because when I came looking for a house to rent, I saw a very beautiful woman standing in that beautiful light, and I wanted to take her picture very, very much. So I must seem young andfoolish to you, but I am sincere." Guess what happens next. Well-meaning but weak and often silly.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780345477750
Publisher:
Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
12/28/2004
Pages:
352
Product dimensions:
5.15(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.74(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

Roberta

Sunday, October 25, 20

Dear Harriet,

My hands are shaky as the leaves on the trees today. Hope you can read this all right. I hate seeing that I’ve got old lady handwriting. But then, it stands to reason, doesn’t it? How’d we get so old?

It’s Sunday and I ain’t been to church. Been sitting here all morning by my Edgar, trying to get enough courage up to let him go. I sent everybody away—all the parishioners who been bringing greens and pots of stew and washing up my dishes while I sit with him. Sent even the children away. They can all come back later, when I’ve gone and done what I need to do.

Sister, I been here all morning and can’t open up my mouth to say it. Go on, Edgar. I’ll be all right. He’s just waiting for that, because when he fell into this coma, I grabbed his old hand and begged him not to leave me.

And he’s such a good man, he’s holding on. There, now I’m crying again.

I been holding his hand for sixty-two years. This morning, I was holding it and remembering that morning he first came to our back door, asking for a drink of water. Remember? He’d been down on his luck, but he was so proud. He looked so good in the sunshine with his pretty head and that strong old nose. My heart flipped clean over and I wasn’t but fifteen. I’ve had no use for any other man since that day.

I been remembering all of it this morning. Wondering how it would of been if we’d stayed back there in Mississippi with all y’all. Wondering what it was he saw in Italy that made him never talk about it his whole life long. Wondering if we’d of had as good a life if we hadn’t come west to Pueblo, where we’ve been so peaceful. Home of the Heroes. Did you know they call it that nowdays? Fitting. Edgar put away all his medals, but he was sure proud when the Medal of Honor winners all came here. He put on his best suit that morning, and went down to listen to them, all four old men like him. I went along with him, of course, but I didn’t hear what he did. I asked him one time if it was so bad as all that, and he just bowed his head and said, Worse.

So I just let it be.

And he’s not a perfect man, not by any means. He was too stern with the children, fussy about things as he got old, wanting every little thing his way. We’ve had our share of dark times, too, times when I wanted to take a meat cleaver to his stubborn old head. Once or twice, he hurt my heart, but he never did it on purpose.

It’s not those times I’m thinking of now, though. I’m remembering how hard we could laugh, so much that Edgar would get to wheezing. I’m thinking about waking up morning after morning after morning with him lying beside me. Listening to him, whistling as he fiddled with a television dead but for the magic he gave it with his clever mind.

Lord, give me strength. I have got to let him go. He’s withering away right in front of my eyes. But I’m telling you the truth, sister, I’m going, too. I asked the Lord to take me. Y’all know I love you, but you, sister, know my life won’t be nothing without him.

Your sister,

Berta

Meet the Author

Barbara Samuel is the award-winning author of several novels, including A Piece of Heaven and No Place Like Home. She lives in Pueblo, Colorado, with her two sons, where is she currently writing her next novel.

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Goddesses of Kitchen Avenue 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
CandyL More than 1 year ago
This is the book that introduced me to Barbara Samuels and what a gift that turned out to be! She is an amazing writer and her books just keep getting better. The Goddesses of Kitchen Avenue is a book that will touch your heart and make you look a little deeper into your own life. The characters are fully-developed and unforgettable. You will want to go to Kitchen Avenue to have coffee with Trudy and her friends.
JoyBE More than 1 year ago
Difficult to put down. The way the characters supported each other and how their lives intertwined was perfect. Such a perfect ending. Too bad the cover picture did not reflect the characters.
Guest More than 1 year ago
To be honest, the only reason I got this book was because it is set in Pueblo. This book was really good. It is about real life and the struggles that people face. It just goes to show you that you never know where life will take you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
a touching quick read   that you will want to settle down with a cup of great coffee.  all of barbara samuel's (o'neal) books are thoroughly fun and engaging reads.  keep them coming!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The story touches on a group of women, each going through a life crisis. The main character is Trudy Marino. She is 46 years-old and separated from, Rick, her husband of over 20 years. At the beginning of the book, Trudy's next door neighbor, Roberta Williams, has JUST become a widow. She had been with Edgar, her husband, for over 60 years. ...................... Roberta's granddaughter, Jade, comes to help. Jade is going through her own male problems (with Dante) and takes up kick boxing to vent her frustrations. Though Trudy is the main character, Jade seemed to steal the spot light often. I looked forward to her chapters most. ....................... The book is written in first person view and each chapter gives the name of the person whom the chapter represents. Sometimes the chapter is one of the other women in the group, but not often, such as Shannelle (another neighbor). But again I point out that Trudy, Jade, and often Roberta are the focus. ................... **** Now do not go thinking of the movie 'First Wives Club', as I did, when you pick up this little gem. THIS tale is actually realistic. The author, Barbara Samuel, even included what looked like copies of emails sent to and fro the women. (I wonder if Hopefuls at yahoogroups.com is real. Hmmm...) .................... All-in-all, I found this to be a charming and modern day book with people that almost seemed real to me. Barbara Samuel's talent clearly shines through on every page! ****