Recipe for a Good Life by Lesley Crewe

“Life is like a recipe. What do you want in your life cake? What ingredients do you need to make it rise and taste wonderful? Sometimes the simplest recipe is the best, because the more you add to the mix, the more things can go wrong.” pg 136

I had the immense pleasure of binge-reading Lesley Crewe’s latest and maybe even her best novel yet, Recipe for a Good Life. Set in 1955, it accurately depicts rural hospitality and cooperative community spirit.

Kitty Wagner aka C.J. Faulkner bestselling author of the Inspector Harry Gunn novels, has hit a creative brick wall. Her editor Gaynor and her husband Simon come up with a plan for Kitty to go on a writer’s retreat to Cape Breton for two months to recharge her batteries and get her creative juices flowing again with her publishing company Empire and Bloom picking up the tab.

With her famous actor husband on his way to New York for his next movie, 33-year-old Kitty and her dog Pip pack up and leave Montreal, crossing the brand new Canso Causeway on their way to the remote Cape Breton Island. When they arrive at their destination, it isn’t at all what they expected. The cabin, better described as a shack, is on a dirt road in the middle of the woods, it’s drafty, with a lumpy bed and no shower. It has a wood stove, a party line telephone, and wild animals that may mistake her small dog for lunch.

Within a short period of time Kitty discovers that despite the cabin appearing to be remote and isolated, she was far from being lonely like she was in Montreal. Shared meals with neighbours, the joy of children, happy conversations, and community gatherings, every day she spent in this rural community she was discovering what was missing in her life.

Lesley Crewe hits the nail on the head with her descriptions of life in rural communities with the speed and popularity of gossip and everyone knowing your business. But they also pull together to help one another and have lots of community fun. As with all of her novels, the cast of characters in this story are well-developed, with very unique personalities that you can’t help but fall in love with.

“Once they were sorted, Bertha, Jean, and Ruth sipped their tea and ate gingerbread cake heaped with whipped cream. “pg. 130

Warning: This story should also come with a “reader’s beware”: Do not read if you are trying to diet. Once finishing this tasty book you may also have the urge to bake some cookies for your neighbours.

“Food is her language of love. She keeps filling you up, in more ways than one.” pg 213

Lesley Crewe is the Globe and Mail – bestselling author of thirteen novels, including Nosy Parker, which was named one of Indigo’s Top 100 Books of 2022, The Spoon Stealer, longlisted for Canada Reads 2022, BeholdenMary, MaryAmazing GraceKin, and Relative Happiness, which was adapted into an award-winning feature film. She has also published two collections of essays, the Leacock — longlisted Are You Kidding Me?! and I Kid You Not! Lesley lives in Homeville, Nova Scotia.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Vagrant Press (July 18 2023)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 408 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1774712040
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1774712047

Sue Slade has a Bachelor of Child Study from Mount St. Vincent University in Halifax. After working with children and adults with special needs, she now has her midlife dream job of working with books. Sue manages an independent, locally owned bookstore, Dartmouth Book Exchange. Through her charismatic sharing centred around books and community, Sue has created an engaging cornerstone for authors, customers, and book lovers of all ages. Sue is an avid reader and her reviews cross over many genres.