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Recipe for a Perfect Wife

A Novel
Written by: Karma Brown
Length: 9 hrs and 51 mins
4 out of 5 stars (62 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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.

©2020 Karma Brown (P)2020 Penguin Audio

What the critics say

"[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)

“A powerful, thought-provoking story about the choices that ultimately come to define and liberate two women who lived 60 years apart.” (Shelf Awareness)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Predictable but Enjoyable

Am I the only one who thought this could have been a great book for a slow burn horror genre? Seriously. This would have been an excellent haunted house/possession book. With Alice slowly turning from a New York City working women with no interest in the "domestic" life into they stereotypical 50s housewife that Nellie was. Dressing like her, cooking like her, gardening like her, eventually becoming her.

Did anyone else read it that way? I can't be alone in this. If it had been written as a horror story then I would have given it a 4.5 or even a 5 star rating. But alas, I do not believe it was intended to be taken as some sort of thriller so I wrote a more serious take below.

Well according to the quotes from 1900-1955 I am a terrible wife. Oh my goodness how times have changed.

I am very surprised by how much I actually liked this book despite the main character Alice being one of the most unlikeable characters. She was terrible all the way around, she was so selfish and hypocritical. She was very frustrating. Seems like a lot of problems could have been easily solved if she DIDN'T LIE SO MUCH! ARGH!!!

Yet despite that this book really does draw you in. It is incredibly predictable, the "secret" is something that can be figured out fairly early on in the book, but that doesn't take away from the book being a fun read/listen.

1 person found this helpful

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Recipe for a perfect book!

Take one excellent author mix with brilliant ideas and interesting characters cook in moderate storyline. Take care to not overcook. Sprinkle with light humour, heartache, joy and relief.

This book is to be savoured while relaxing or even while tidying up. It’s hard not to indulge and consume all at once.

Definitely a creation worth indulging in.

Enjoy!

1 person found this helpful

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Complex and interesting

Very captivating novel, I feel like I know the characters now. Recommend for when doing chores around the house.

1 person found this helpful

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Love

I was not expecting to love this like I did. the performances were great and made the characters come to life. I was drawn in to both womens stories equally, which seldom happens in a dual storyline like this one, at least for me. I recommend this book. It strikes a cord with modern visions and struggles of womanhood and marriage but not in a preachy way.

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A lovely surprise

Wasn’t sure if I would like it or not, but I was pleasantly surprised. Although you kinda knew early on what happened to one of the characters, it was completely enjoyable.

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Loves it!

I don't usually read fictional books , but having seen it was the book chosen for the Cityline book club, I decided to give it a chance. I'm so glad I did! Congrats to the author.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Christina K.
  • 2020-01-30

Awful

Excellent performance. And I suppose well written. I was listening. I meant to give it two stars but you can’t back up. The 1950s housewife was fine, though farfetched her husband got what he deserved in the fiction world. Present-day husband seemed like a good guy. His wife -not so much. Concluding this was a I don’t just hate bad men, I hate all men story. And because of that, I can make a ”heroine” with zero redeeming qualities.

3 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2020-01-13

ALL MEN ARE HORRIBLE, BAD, NASTY PEOPLE.

So, if you like reading about how creepy all men are and how they leave, rape, abuse women, this is your book. It is sure to be made into a movie by Reese any day now. Hollywood will LOVE it.

3 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • NMwritergal
  • 2020-01-29

The 1950s storyline was interesting...

...but the 2018 storyline with Alice was pretty obnoxious. I feel like the Brown fell down on the job in creating this character. ALL Alice does is tells lies--small lies to big lies--to her husband, and as the reader, you really don't understand why. So what you end up with is an undeveloped, unlikable character who lies for unknown reasons.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Micai
  • 2020-04-16

did not enjoy.

the 1950s aspect of this book was great but the rest i just did not enjoy. I could not stand the main character or her choices. not recommended unless the seperate the 2 storylines out into thier own books.

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Fred Hommel
  • 2020-02-01

Disappointing ending

While at first the characters seem likable and I wanted to cheer them, on Alice’s ultimate character appeared to be a selfish, manipulative liar who was horrified when her husband displays the same qualities. The husband ends of being a doormat to her selfish behavior and in the end, they both agree to stay miserably together.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Tim
  • 2020-05-21

???

The story tried to follow a sort of “all men are evil”, but somehow the main character in the 2018 timeline was so unredeemable and awful that it was difficult to even listen to. other than that- the narration threw you right in the middle of the couple’s stupid arguments.

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  • Tiffany
  • 2020-05-19

Horrible

Mundane, repetitive and not “thrilling” as the description implies, in the slightest! I kept pushing through hoping something exciting would happen. Pushed myself through the entire book and am so disappointed I wasted THAT much time on it.

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  • Cancinoadv
  • 2020-05-10

enjoyable book

I enjoyed listening to the book and following the story of Alice and Nelly. it was more of a good distraction rather than an epic pg turner, but I for one am mostly used to crime and suspense novels, so it could just be that this just wasn't part of my usual speed.

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  • DeLynn Coop
  • 2020-04-27

I couldn't wait to get back to this book

I absolutely loved this book. The parallel between the two women's lives was intriguing. this is a must read!

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Natalie Anne Taylor
  • 2020-04-23

Fast, underwhelming read

Honestly, I read this for a book club and would never read it again. While I found the quotes at the beginning of each extremely short chapter to be mildly intriguing, the rest of the novel wasn’t. The storyline was predictable and boring (except for a mild shock in the end). The short chapters made it a fast read. I agree with most of the other reviewers that Nellie’s character was more interesting and developed, while Alice’s was extremely annoying, underwhelming and underdeveloped, perhaps even a bit unhinged. The narrator for Alice was also grating to the ears and whiny, much like Alice herself. The ending itself seemed underdeveloped and unsatisfactory, basically my entire impression of the novel.