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Belle in the Big Apple: A Novel with Recipes…
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Belle in the Big Apple: A Novel with Recipes

by Brooke Parkhurst

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Okay, so I have to give 1/2 star for the unique concept of making a cookbook and novel together. I thought that was very creative. The story is so-so. The cover art drew me in and I really expected some Candace Bushnell-ish, but didn't get it. It's okay, but there are some good recipes. ( )
  Toyi | Apr 23, 2009 |
Two stars for the novel, four stars for the recipes...

By the time I requested a review copy of this novel through the Amazon Vine program, I could already see the very mixed to negative reviews. But I thought to myself, "Perhaps they're not really chick-lit fans." And I must admit that I was very intrigued by the idea of a novel with recipes. Intrigued enough to want to check it out for myself.

Unfortunately, the only conclusion I can come to is that this is a very badly written debut novel. It's essentially a fish out of water story. Southern Belle comes to the Big Apple to make it big. While not the most original premise, it definitely could have worked. Belle gets a job with a conservative cable news network. As the author is a former employee of Fox News, she might have had some fun with that. Unfortunately, the writing was honestly just tedious. Ideas were poorly expressed.

Possibly my biggest problem was with the protagonist herself. Helen Feilding made me relate to a hard-drinking, chain-smoking Londoner. Jennifer Weiner made me relate to a zaftig, East Coast Jewess. There was absolutely nothing relatable in Belle. I felt absolutely no kinship with her, and really didn't like her very much. When the character is unlikeable, you don't really care if they ultimately succeed, so even the ending held little satisfaction.

What was the one great thing about this novel? The recipes! They really are great, and were intergrated into the text in fun ways. I can't wait to try a few out. ( )
  suetu | Oct 14, 2008 |
I was intrigued by the concept of a fish-out-of-water in New York City, laced with humor and recipes. Guess what? It wasn't funny, and the recipes didn't look particularly good, at least to this Yankee (bacon in a salad?). Belle is too enchanted with herself to be very likeable; she keeps mentioning her ego, which is already blatantly apparent, and the one mention of her "ample bottom" is clearly an editor's suggestion to bring her down to earth.

Moreover, the author seemed to suffer from genre confusion. The concept and cover are pure chick lit, while the writing style is strangely ponderous.

Not recommended. For a fun story set in the food industry, try "Turning Tables" (by Heather and Rose MacDowell) or "Waiting" (by Debra Ginsberg) instead. ( )
  bearette24 | Oct 9, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0743296966, Hardcover)

When Belle Lee, a vivacious, tart-tongued daughter of Mobile, Alabama, decides that the only way she'll ever make a name for herself as a journalist is to leave the family paper and head to New York,she soon realizes just how daunting life in the big city can be. An outsider desperate to carve a place for herself in the cutthroat world of New York journalism, Belle marches all over town in her kitten heels and her single Chloé suit to hand-deliver résumés and smiles, and to beg for a job from the indifferent or downright hostile office drones.

She refuses to give up. With heroic persistence,a wicked sense of humor and a taste for the gourmet, Belle sees what it takes to become a New Yorker. She flirts with a gorgeous young man on the subway, only to learn later that he's stolen her purse; braves the judgmental stares of her neighbors; goes on a series of hilariously disastrous dates and then, finally, she catches her big break: a job as a production assistant at a conservative twenty-four-hour news network.

Belle throws herself into her work, sure that her talents will be noticed. All the while, she suffers the sexually suggestive commentary of one of the station's better-known male anchors, doggedly fetches scripts and pulls footage in the wee hours of the morning while working the midnight shift. Belle even maintains her Southern charm, baking cakes for her coworkers and befriending the office security guard.

Things start to look up when Paige Beaumont, the channel's star female news anchor, takes Belle under her wing. Paige shows Belle the ropes, dispenses career advice, includes her in the office gossip and also sets her up on dates at restaurants where, before, Belle had only dreamed of one day being inside. But when Belle uncovers the truth behind an illegal network deal that may jeopardize the election of female presidential candidate Jessica Clayton, she realizes that intelligent and ambitious women need to stick together -- and she has no choice but to take matters into her own hands.

With thirty recipes for everything from Bribe-Your-Coworkers Pound Cake to Single-Girl Sustenance and how to make the perfect Manhattan -- all told in the delightful and plucky voice of a determined and saucy young woman -- Belle in the Big Apple is about finding love in the most unlikely places, following your dreams and staying true to yourself.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:31 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

MODERN FICTION. Bright Lights, Big City meets "Sex in the City"--with twenty-seven recipes--in this lively novel about a sassy, food-loving Southern belle who moves to New York City to become a journalist, winding up at the most morally corrupt news operation in town.… (more)

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