Together at the Table: A Novel of Lost Love and Second Helpings

Together at the Table: A Novel of Lost Love and Second Helpings

by Hillary Manton Lodge

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In this follow up to A Table By the Window, Juliette D'Alisa continues searching for the full story about her grandmother's past and for her own chance at lasting love.  

Juliette feels on top of the world when her and her brother, Nico's restaurant opens to rave reviews. But that feeling is short-lasted, when in a bittersweet series of events, her mother falls ill and her romance with Memphis immunologist Neil McLaren ubruptly ends in anger and tears.

Three long months later, as autumn sweeps into the Pacific Northwest, Juliette feels that she’s finally on the cusp of equilibrium--the restaurant continues to thrive, and her family is closer than ever. She and sous-chef Adrien are seeing each other, both in and out of the kitchen. Just when she thinks her world might stop spinning, a trip to the waterfront brings a chance encounter with a familiar face from her past.

Rather than dwell on her personal life, Juliette throws herself into work and research. After reading her grandmother’s letters from war-torn Paris, she still wants to know the full story-- and she’ll travel across countries and oceans to find it. But even Juliette can’t outrun the man who stole her heart. As she finally uncovers the truth about her family history, what will it mean for her own search for love?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307731807
Publisher: The Crown Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/03/2016
Series: Two Blue Doors , #3
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 44,274
File size: 5 MB

About the Author

HILLARY MANTON LODGE is the author of six novels, including the critically acclaimed Two Blue Doors series and the Plain and Simple duet. In her free time, she enjoys experimenting in the kitchen, graphic design, and finding new walking trails. She resides outside of Memphis, Tennessee with her husband and two pups.  She can be found online at

Read an Excerpt

As the days grow short, some faces grow long. But not mine. Every autumn, when the wind turns cold and darkness comes early, I am suddenly happy. It’s time to start making soup again. 
— Leslie Newman 

Dear Neil, 

I’ve started this e-mail several times, and I know that doesn’t mean a lot because you’ve yet to receive a completed draft, but it’s true. 

We celebrated the three-month anniversary of Two Blue Doors last week. We made an event of it—Nico created three glorious specials in honor of the occasion, and Clementine made this anniversary cake with figs and meringue that still brings a smile to my face. We celebrated with our diners, then celebrated afterward with the staff. 

It was bittersweet for me, because any celebration of the restaurant’s opening automatically makes me think of you, and the last time we spoke. 

Today was Toussaint, All Saints Day. And while patrons came in—some in costume—to celebrate Halloween, I used my break between seatings to put flowers on my mother’s grave. 

She passed away in September, on what would have been Chloé’s first day of eighth grade. “Passed away” is such a weird term, isn’t it? I was there—we all were—when it happened. And it seemed maybe less of a passing and more of a leaving. She stopped breathing and she was gone. 

You were right. You were right and you knew you were right, and I yelled at you for it. I wasn’t ready for the truth, not then. 

I was angry for weeks after our fight, at first hoping somewhat spitefully that my mom would pull out and go into remission and I would have been able to say, “Hi, remember me? My mom is in remission.” 

It’s petty. I’m not denying it. 

But instead she faded away so quickly, and I couldn’t trust myself to write. 

Sandrine was here. She really is the best of my mom’s cousins. Did you know she was a nurse before she became an innkeeper? I don’t remember if that came up while we were in Provence together. Anyway, she was here and stayed for a month, helping when hospice wasn’t at the house. I will always be profoundly grateful to her for that. 

That last week, we knew it was coming. The hospice nurses warned us that she didn’t have much time left. She was in good spirits throughout—at peace with her life, aware of her future. Sometimes funny, sometimes irascible in French, but never in despair. That made it easier on the rest of us, at least as much as possible. 

The memorial was nice. Mario, Adrian, and Clementine catered, bless them. The Italian aunts and uncles all flew out, which was great. They cooked and cleaned and wept with my father as he said good-bye to his wife. My father sang Lucio Dalla’s “Caruso,” and all of us cried buckets. 

My mom hadn’t finished grieving her own mother’s death when she died, so I’m glad they’re together. They’re likely in heaven making pastry—that’s what I like to think about. If I focus on that image, I can smile for half of a second before my face defaults to “blank.” 

I felt numb for the first month, going through the motions of work. Fortunately for me, restaurant work is a good place to lose yourself, and I’m good at it. Setup, cleanup, management—there’s not a lot I’m not involved in. We all work hard but the reviews have been good, with numbers to match. The restaurant has been featured in magazines and newspapers—both regional and, lately, national—as a place to visit. 

But I’ve realized that I only ever wanted to impress three people in my life: my mom, my dad, and my grandmother. And now that we’ve found success, the fact that I’ve lost two out of the three steals much of the joy from the success we’ve obtained. 

Is this e-mail too maudlin? I can’t tell. But maybe you can’t process death without being maudlin. Read it over and let me know. I didn’t mean for all this to be so long. 

The whole point was to say (a) my mom died and (b) I’m sorry we ended the way we did. Truly.
I think we would have both moved on, eventually, but I’m sorry things ended that way. I hope you’ve found someone lovely (and local), ideally someone highly conversant in bacteria. 
(I don’t mean that to sound condescending, only that I feel deeply unqualified for such a thing, but I do recognize that bacteria is important. You can’t live in Portland and not hear a great deal about probiotics.) 

Don’t worry about me, I think is what I’m trying to say. I learned how much I can carry on, and there’s value in that. I learned that sometimes it doesn’t matter if you move on with purpose or move on without, as long as you’re moving, somehow. 

I hope you’re well. I hope you’re happy. I pray good things for you. 

I sat back and reread what I’d written, hardly a paragraph in before I rolled my eyes. I looked over to the dark blankness outside my window and sleeping Gigi on my bed. Three in the morning hadn’t done me any favors. 

I moved my cursor near the Send button, but once again I felt my right hand drift, saving the draft and sending the e-mail to nest with its siblings, all curled up and cozy together in my Drafts folder. 

I took a deep breath and closed my laptop, then rose from my desk before crawling into bed.
Gigi sighed and stood, shook herself off, and relocated to my pillow. I placed my face next to hers. 

“We’re going to go for a long walk soon. You and me and Adrian. A long, proper walk on the river. We’ll walk fast enough to keep warm. People will stop to pet you. You’ll like it a lot.” 

Another flutter of the eyelids, but no other indication of anticipation. I patted her curly fur and nestled into my pillow. “That’s all right. You’ll enjoy it later.” 

I shouldn’t have been surprised when I woke the next morning and realized I’d been dreaming about Neil. 

We were standing in the lavender field again, and it felt . . . like I was right where I belonged and terribly out of place, all at the same time. I woke up feeling disoriented, even more so when I took my first deep breath of the day and caught a fragrant whiff of lavender. 


My eyes opened fully, and I remembered that today was the day we’d host our first wedding at the restaurant. 

I reached for my phone and checked the time: 6:34. I didn’t need to get up for another twenty-six minutes, but the adrenaline from the coming event and the residual memory of Neil in the lavender field were enough to encourage my feet to find the floor and get a start on the day. 

Another inhale—I really was smelling lavender, but I also remembered that the bride had requested lavender-vanilla petits fours filled with vanilla crème anglaise. 

I showered and dressed, arranging my damp hair into a sleek braided chignon and dressing in a swingy black jersey dress, the sleeves long enough to keep off the chill. Tomorrow, I promised myself. Tomorrow I would wear color and walk Gigi for miles. 

After a brisk walk for Gigi, I settled her into her kennel and jogged down the stairs to the Two Blue Doors kitchen. 

Hard to believe we’d been open for three months—some days hard to believe we’d opened at all. 

I found our pastry chef, Clementine, in the kitchen, lavender sprig in hand. 

“Hey! Just finishing up,” she said as she set the sprig onto the top of a tiny iced cake. “The petits fours are almost done, and then I’ll put them into the walk-in to keep cold.” 

“They look amazing,” I said, leaning over to better examine my roommate’s work. Each completed petit four was meticulously iced and decorated with a small sprig of lavender on top. 

“Like I said, just about done,” Clementine said, pouring icing over another set of bite-sized cakes. “I wanted to get these tucked away before the guys came in and made the whole place smell like onions and seared meat.” 

“Good plan, though I thought they’d be here by now.” I pulled out my tablet. “Actually, fifteen minutes ago.” 

“I’m here!” came a voice from the back door. But it was our line cook Kenny’s voice, not my brother’s. Or, for that matter, my boyfriend’s. 

“Hi, Kenny. You didn’t see the chef outside, did you?” 

“Yeah, he’s right behind me.” 

“What is this, roll call?” Nico asked as he walked inside. 

“We’re on a tight schedule with the wedding today,” I reminded him. “We’ve got the lunch seating and then a quick turnaround for the wedding.” 

“It’ll be fine,” he said, giving me a conciliatory pat on the shoulder. 

“I know. It’s just . . . first wedding we’ve done here. This could be a great start.” 

“We’re certainly making good money on it—hey, Adrian!” 

I turned to see Adrian, my boyfriend and my brother’s sous-chef, enter through the back door. 

“Morning,” he said with a friendly nod to Nico. “And morning to you,” he said to me, dropping a short kiss on my lips. 

Nico crossed his arms. “What did I say about kitchen PDA?” 

“What, that applied to us?” Adrian held his palms out in a show of mock confusion. “I thought that was about keeping a respectful distance with the radishes.” 

“Have a good lunch service,” I said. “Be extra careful with the petits fours that’ll be in the walk-in.” 

“They’re almost done,” Clementine called out. 

“Good, because I need your station space,” Nico called back. 

“You can have it when the desserts are done,” Clementine retorted. 

The bickering continued, of course. I wished Nico would ask her out, marry her, and be done with it. But in the wake of Mom’s death, each of us grieved deeply in our own way. In recent months, Nico had spent increasingly long hours in the kitchen, often ignoring life outside of the restaurant.
I stayed out of it, at least most of the time. Instead, I readied the dining room. We had a full day ahead. 

The lunch rush nearly knocked us off our feet. Since our July opening, we’d made full use of the outdoor seating. I’d worked to make our garden patio as lovely as possible, and our customers agreed. Young trees in planters had graced the corners, while boxes filled with blooming annuals had lined the railing. 

We’d enjoyed an Indian summer, but with the end of October came the heavy rains and chill that found the place between my sleeves and gloves. The tree leaves had long turned to rust, setting off the mums in the boxes. White twinkle lights at the top of the trellis and wound into the trees made the dusk and evening hours truly magical, while vinyl sheeting and propane heaters still kept it just warm enough for intrepid diners. 

It was great for business, especially for newcomers. People walked by and stopped just for the opportunity to eat outside. 

But the business boom also meant increasingly heavy workloads for our staff—and the Saturday lunch service was no different. Nico and the rest of the kitchen staff worked to get each dish plated and perfect, while our servers, Braeden, Patrick, and Mallory, and I rushed to get the orders out quickly. 

“Juliette!” Nico called to me after I dropped off an order. “We’re low on the brussels sprouts.” 

“I’ll take care of it,” I said. I encouraged the staff to push the nonsprout appetizers, but my own tables were having none of it. 

And to be fair, it was a dish we’d become famous for—brussels sprouts sautéed with pancetta and a hint of orange zest, served with a poached egg and parmesan on top. My own mouth watered thinking of it, and I saw fifteen of them leave the kitchen per sitting. 

“I’ve got three more orders for the sprouts. Do we need to cut them off?” I asked Nico. 

He looked up from his station. “It’s fine. I pulled out the sprouts reserved for the wedding.” 

My eyes widened. “Yeah?” I asked cautiously. I didn’t want to contradict him in front of the staff, but . . . 

He read the caution in my eyes. “It’ll be fine. I made a couple calls, and the New Seasons at Cedar Hills has the amount we need. I need to get some air anyway—I’ll just run and get them.” 

“Okay,” I said, even though I hated the idea. We had too much to do for me to feel okay with Nico leaving the kitchen. 

“It’ll be fine,” he repeated. “Kenny and Adrian will be starting the prep work. And I can look at their bulk dates, because I’m not happy with mine.” 

I nodded. “Do what you need to do,” I said. I knew getting things at a grocery store rather than our supplier would be more expensive, but at this point the important piece was simply having the ingredient at all. 

Adrian and Kenny began cleaning their stations before the last of the lunch guests left. I closed out the tabs, thanked the guests, and left Braeden and Mallory to tidy up the dining room while I ran upstairs to eat a bite and let Gigi roam free. 

After another short walk to the park and back, I walked back downstairs to get ready for the wedding. 

We’d received the call about the wedding two months before. The bride and groom had gotten engaged at the restaurant—an event which may have had to do with our free champagne promotion our first month in business—and called shortly after to ask if we rented out the restaurant for weddings. 

We hadn’t before, but it seemed a perfect time to start. How hard could it be, anyway? It was catering—which all of us had done—and serving in our own space. 

So far, the preparations had been straightforward. I’d had a sit-down meeting with the couple, Sonnet and Theo, in mid-August. 

“We just want something simple,” Sonnet had said. “We’re not eloping, but we’re not having a long engagement or an elaborate wedding. No tulle, no rose petals, no topiaries. Just the two of us getting married and eating good food with family and friends.” 

No rehearsal, either. “It’s a wedding,” she’d said. “Not a school play. And we’re paying for it ourselves.” 

I hadn’t asked, but it sounded like punctuation in a conversation she’d had many other times with many other people. 

Sonnet and Theo chose items off our menu to serve as a buffet—including the brussels sprouts—before meeting with Clementine to plan the petits fours. I charged enough to cover our usual take on a Saturday night and give the servers a paid night off. 

Nico, Adrian, and Clementine would do the food prep and setup. I’d run the beverages and keep everything running smoothly; Adrian had volunteered to stay through the event with me and wash dishes after. It was a small enough crowd at fifty, and a simple enough buffet, that we could comfortably run the show with a skeleton crew. 

Sonnet and Theo had chosen to have a standing ceremony in the dining room, with reception overflow on the patio; I took a bucket outside and pruned off dead leaves and stray branches, then swept away cobwebs that had formed overnight. After a brisk sweep, it looked wedding worthy. 

My phone rang; I pulled it from my back pocket to answer. “Nico, hi. What’s up?” 

“Hey, Etta. So . . . I’m having some car trouble.”

Customer Reviews

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Together at the Table: A Novel of Lost Love and Second Helpings 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Amazing story. Very well written. So many lives intertwined; a beautiful family. I didn't want it to end.
Utemom5 More than 1 year ago
Of all of the three books in the Two Blue Doors series, this is by far the best. Having a reward for continuing to read a series that I have struggled with was great! I am glad that Juliette as a character seems to really come into her strength in this book. Which is good, as I have felt that she came across a bit 'weak' in the previous 2. We get a continuation of her look into her Grandmothers experiences, and the locations used in this book are beautiful. I love the Northwest (Pacific Coast) region and it was nice to be taken back there. You may or may not get frustrated over the 'love interests' I didn't mind the route that you get taken on here with Juliette, and it felt natural in the way she progressed. Would I recommend this as a series, probably, if you are a foodie and love books with a focus on the culinary world, and if you love a mystery along with it, you will like this series. Thanks to Netgalley for a complimentary digital copy in return for my honest review.
InspirationClothesline More than 1 year ago
Together at the Table by Hillary Manton Lodge is a book for the foodie romantics out there! The third in the “Two Blue Doors” series does not disappoint. It’s a beautiful culmination of Juliette’s story as the details unfold and finally come together. Getting to see all the ends tied up as Juliette travels to Italy and unearths her family history is a truly magical. The recipes throughout the book inspire and motivate me to get in the kitchen and try some things I’ve never tried before. The story itself, while not entirely “exciting” the story itself and how it unfolds is. There is a beautiful tapestry of details woven together and in this third novel you see the big picture, the complete story. If you are looking for an exciting read this may not be the one, however if you like the attention to detail and when the author is truly attentive, this could be the one. Do pick up one of the previous books by Lodge first though. The first in the series is A Table By the Window and the second is Reservations For Two – this conclusion to the trilogy is a true gem. I highly recommend it, and I could gush but instead I’ll challenge you to read it, cook it, and get engrossed in the story. Did I mention the Pacific Northwest setting???? Scroll down for the summary, but maybe you had better just start with book one “A Table By the Window” and then head to book two “Reservations For Two”
MelissaF More than 1 year ago
What an amazing wrap up to a great series. This book was fabulous, probably my favorite out of the whole series. It is divided into two parts. I will say at first, at the end of part I, I was like well, now what, a lot seemed resolved? But I totally get it now. Truly, it's like getting two books in one. Juliette starts the book with Adrian and I knew it felt all wrong. When she see's Neil my heart ached for them to get back together. I loved the way Hillary handled that. Then there is the mystery surrounding Juliette's grandmother. That was a beautiful story as well. I love Juliette's family, especially Caterina, what a great personality. There are recipes included with this book. So if what you read about sounds good you can cook it up. You probably could read this book without reading the others but I think I was more deeply invested in these characters because I had read the other two. The ending was totally perfect, a great way to wrap the series. A copy of this book was given to me through the Blogging for Books program in exchange for an honest review.
mymissdaisy More than 1 year ago
From the back cover . . . (I loved the front cover) Three months ago, Juliette D’Alisa’s world changed. In a bittersweet series of events, her mother’s health took a turn for the worse. Juliette and her brother opened their restaurant together to rave reviews, but her romance with Memphis immunologist Neil McLaren ended in anger and tears. As autumn sweeps into the Pacific Northwest, Juliette feels that she’s finally on the cusp of equilibrium. The restaurant continues to thrive, and her family is closer than ever. She and sous-chef Adrien are seeing each other, both in and out of the kitchen. Just when she thinks her world might stop spinning, a trip to the waterfront lands a familiar face into her path. Rather than dwell on her personal life, Juliette throws herself into work and research. After reading her grandmother’s letters from war-torn Paris, she still wants to know the full story – and she’ll travel across countries and oceans to find it. But even Juliette can’t outrun the man who stole her heart. As she finally uncovers the truth about her family history, what will it mean for her own chances at lasting love? I visited the authors website . . . It was as delightful as the book... . . . and filled with recipes. (This little cupcake is featured in the book!) But I am getting side-tracked. I'm supposed to be writing about Together At The Table which is book 3 in the series. In all honesty as much as I liked the book I think I would have enjoyed it better if I'd read the first two. I was a little confused about Juliette and the family's visit to Europe to learn more about their family and Juliette's grandmother. I kind of felt that I was reading two different books. In the beginning Juliette is struggling with her feelings for her current boyfriend and her old flame. Shortly after she makes her decision (between her boyfriends) the family travels to Europe. The book is also filled with recipes. There is a recipe after almost every chapter. I enjoyed reading the recipes and look forward to trying a few. Overall I think this was a nice read and I would definitely be inclined to read the first two. I actually hope that there is a 4th book in the works. I'd love to see more of Nico Juliette's brother and co-owner of the Two Blue Doors restaurant. I received a complimentary copy of Together At The Table from Book Look in exchange for my honest review. This review is posted at My Reading Journeys and Good Reads This post is linked at: The Art Of Homemaking, Create With Joy, Share Your Cup, Tuesday with a Twist, Meet Up Monday, Show and Share, Inspire Me Tuesday, and Home Matters Linky party.
susanwalkergirl More than 1 year ago
Together at the Table by Hillary Manton Lodge is the first book I’ve read by this author. What a treasure I’ve found. I love it when I find a new author whose writing and characters I connect with. Together at the Table is the third book in the “Two Blue Doors” series. The book continues the story of Juliette D’Alisa and her big family, including the mystery about her ancestors to whom she feels connected. Sometimes it’s hard to come into the middle of a series when you haven’t read the earlier books. To some degree I didn’t feel the connection with the characters right away. But Hillary does a good job in giving enough background so new readers have insight into the characters and storyline. It was about page 70 that I started to connect with the characters. I found Together at the Table and Hillary’s writing to be thought provoking, insightful, wise, real, tender, good perspective, thoughtful, honest and healthy. The characters were not afraid to say painful things, but in a loving, kind and caring way. I especially liked the insights on love. There were a number of thoughts and feelings expressed by the characters that I highlighted because I found them to be insightful or perfectly capturing the emotion. I would like to also note the Christian faith and the Gospel message are not really a part of this book or storyline. I do appreciate that there was no profanity or inappropriate sexual scenes in this book. Something I did object to was on page 258. Character Letizia is talking about her grandmother and says, “When I was sixteen I thought she should have gone through with the affair. But we should not be surprised. After all, we came from somewhere, no?” Obviously that doesn’t line up with Scriptures view of adultery. But like I mentioned earlier, there’s not a lot in this book that speaks of the Christian faith. Something fun about this book is quotes at the beginning of each chapter and the recipes that are included at the end of some chapter. I’d like to try some of the recipes. Reading this book made me want to cook. I found Hillary to be a safe writer. By that I mean she doesn’t manipulate the characters or put them in precarious situations just to keep the reader in suspense. Hillary Manton Lodge is a gifted wordsmith and paints beautiful pictures with her words. She unveils her characters with insight and depth. I really liked Together at the Table and look forward to going back and reading Hillary Manton Lodge’s earlier and future books. I would like to thank Blogging for Books and WaterBrook Press for the opportunity to read Together at the Table by Hillary Manton Lodge in exchange for an honest review. I was under no obligation to give a favorable review. I give this books a 4.5 star rating.
jebsweetpea More than 1 year ago
Nutshell: Juliette D'Alisa is back. She is slowly recovering from the recent long-distant break-up with the man she gave her heart to. She's working on moving forward with her life as manager of her brother's newly opened restaurant and freshly grieving her mother's recent death. Her life as she knows it is going smoothly, even with a new guy in her life. The restaurant is thriving, she's in her element, her family is closer than ever and things may be looking up with her new boyfriend (who she gets to work with). But everything shifts one day out for a walk and she recognizes her first love's face. What in the world is he doing in Portland and why is her heart not over him? Journey with Juliette as she discovers what true love is, not only her own, but the mystery of her mysterious heritage and how love conquered all. Pro's: I was so excited to see the final book in the Blue Two Doors series! The 3rd book was just as good as the first two and I loved how this book wrapped up the series. The characters were people I would love to get to know. The time frame of the book is short, but packed full of depth and keeps you hooked. It's a well written book! I also love the recipes that accompany and tie in to each chapter. I will definitely be trying some of them! Con's: It took a bit to get in to the book as it had been awhile since I read the 2nd book. You would definitely need to read the first two books to understand the third book. It is not a stand alone fiction book. Recommendation: Read this series! You won't be disappointed! Waterbook Multnomah sent me this complementary copy to review for the them. Opinions expressed are my own.
gccbookworm More than 1 year ago
Taste of Life Food defines who we are in society. Think of any occasion and food is there. Hillary Manton Lodge in her book "Together at the Table" uses food as she examines the intricacies of human relationships. Juliette D'Alisa has opened a restaurant with her brother Nico and trying to recover from the death of her mother several months before and the break-up with her boyfriend Neil. She is opening herself up to a new relationship with sous-chef Adrian from the restaurant. Juliette feels she is moving forward albeit slowly. She is also planning on taking a trip to Paris to learn more about her grandmother and her family. Adrain is planning a birthday party for her but Juliette requests a quiet day. But this birthday is anything but a quiet event. To make matters more complicated, Juliette discovers Neil is back in town dredging up memories and emotions. The book includes recipes that are mentioned by the characters throughout the book. This book is the third one in the series "Two Blue Doors." I liked this book with the indepth characters and plot. However, I wish I had read the first two books first as it was hard to know who was who and understand what had occured in the previous two books. So I would suggest reading the series in order. This one does not stand alone, it builds upon what has already occured. Food brings us together as a society, as a family, and creates emotional ties. So try giving "Together at the Table" a taste today. I received this book for free to review from WaterBrook.