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When Eve Petworth writes to Jackson Cooper to praise a scene in one of his books, they discover a mutual love of cookery and food. Their friendship blossoms against the backdrop of Jackson's colorful, but ultimately unsatisfying, love life and Eve's tense relationship with her soon-to-be married daughter. As each of them offers, from behind the veils of semi-anonymity and distance, wise and increasingly affectionate counsel to the other, they both begin to confront their problems and plan a celebratory meeting in...
When Eve Petworth writes to Jackson Cooper to praise a scene in one of his books, they discover a mutual love of cookery and food. Their friendship blossoms against the backdrop of Jackson's colorful, but ultimately unsatisfying, love life and Eve's tense relationship with her soon-to-be married daughter. As each of them offers, from behind the veils of semi-anonymity and distance, wise and increasingly affectionate counsel to the other, they both begin to confront their problems and plan a celebratory meeting in Paris—a meeting that Eve fears can never happen.
That Part Was True is part epistolary, beginning with a fan letter sent by Eve Petworth to Jackson Cooper, a Robert-Parkeresque, best-selling American novelist. Cooking earns a starring role in their correspondence; as it continues, he begins to think of her as "his food friend," enjoying on paper "a chaste, if warm, thing based on a mutual interest."
Poor Eve, a divorced romantic pessimist, suffers anxiety attacks, brought on by almost anything outside her four walls. Her daughter, Izzy, and Eve herself consider Eve to have been very bad at mothering. And now Izzy's coming wedding introduces additional angst in the form of Simon, the long-estranged ex-husband and thrice-married father, who is making up for lost time and absent scruples.
Equal space is devoted to Jack, twice-divorced, sort of enjoying bachelorhood in the Hamptons. "For the past 15 years, women had been trying to please him. Not many had managed it." Several now seem "gluey." Especially skillfully rendered is his affair with a diffident New Yorker, Adrienne, a dispenser of unwanted editorial advice. Worse-she's a vegetarian who hardly eats! Mineral water and a salad don't keep good company with omnivore, gourmand Jack. Far-off Eve, on the other hand, is a safe, quixotic object of affection and a source of recipes.
Will a culinary correspondence ("Mutton is good with plums") be enough to fan a flame? I worried that invitations to rendezvous in Paris were premature and unearned or, as Eve's housekeeper warns, "dodgy." But mercifully, Jack and Eve think so too. Jack wishes "he hadn't said that stuff to Eve; it sounded pretentious in the daylight."
Will these pen pals actually meet in a cafe on the Left Bank? McKinlay teases us, allowing them to correspond with a bit more ardor than their nonacquaintance warrants. If we occasionally wince at Jack baring his soul, going poetic, and with Eve responding in kind ("When it had all gone-my buoyant roundness and openness to joy-when it had been stripped away, I tried to forget everything"), we understand that distance and semi-anonymity are making them brave.
I won't say where their missives lead, but I will applaud the sensible outcome. This is England, after all, and we trust that Mrs. Petworth won't do anything rash.—Elinor Lipman, New York Times Book Review
A charming and quick read, That Part was True introduces two innocuous, somewhat lonely, characters who forge an unlikely friendship through mailed letters. The pair's platonic relationship is comforting and reliably innocent, yet their discussion of food and love is wonderfully sensory. The ending is hardly unexpected, but provides a nice wrap-up to this quiet, slice-of-life tale.After British mother Eve Petworth writes a fan letter to successful American author Jackson Cooper, the two begin a pen-pal friendship that helps Eve cope with her daughter's impending marriage and Jackson with his floundering love life. Over a shared love of food and a common loneliness, the two post-middle-aged friends make plans to meet in Paris. [4 stars]—Leah Hanson, RT Book Reviews
Posted April 21, 2014
Posted February 19, 2014
It all began with a simple letter that fuels this richly crafted story about two individuals, the lives they lead and how they connect. It’s a blend of romance, food, soul searching and forgiveness. Eve Petworth is a lonely British woman who has cowered down to her ex-husband, her over domineering mother and now her outspoken daughter. She reaches out, through a letter, to American author Jackson Cooper to compliment a scene in one of his books. Thus discovering their mutual love of cooking and food. Jackson, while quite successful, is also lonely and has his share of awkward problems including his ex-wife’s new lover and an over-zealous neighbor. He finds the correspondence refreshing and a welcome break from his day-to-day life. The correspondence increases and develops into much more for each of them. They open up to one another offering caring advice. As they begin to confront their own problems, a special meeting is planned in Paris for them to finally meet. However, Eve fears this meeting can never happen. Author Deborah McKinlay draws you in, making you feel comfortable with both Eve and Jackson. They are realistic and likable with faults and problems readers can relate to. THAT PART WAS TRUE is a story that will stay with you long after the last sentence has been read. It deals with learning to forgive one’s own past, being honest with yourself and how friendship helps us overcome life’s problems. It’s a touching story with a good mix of romance, intrigue and funny moments, as well as yummy food references (and a couple of recipes). McKinlay does an excellent job taking the reader from England to America and back again. No matter the location, McKinlay’s vibrant descriptions makes the reader feel they’re in the setting. The story flows smoothly and swiftly, while keeping you wondering and hoping with an array of rich characters. THAT PART WAS TRUE shines a new light on how letter writing can change the course of your life. FTC Full Disclosure - This book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.