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The Way Life Should Beby Christina Baker Kline
Synopses & Reviews
Angela Russo is thirty-three years old and single, stuck in a job she doesn't love and a life that seems, somehow, to have just happened. Though she inherited a flair for Italian cooking from her grandmother, she never has the time; for the past six months, her oven has held only sweaters. Tacked to her office bulletin board is a picture torn from a magazine of a cottage on the coast of Maine, a reminder to Angela that there are other ways to live, even if she can't seem to figure them out.
One day at work, Angela clicks on a tiny advertisement in the corner of her computer screen—"Do Soulmates Exist?"—and finds herself at a dating website, where she stumbles upon "MaineCatch," a thirty-five-year-old sailing instructor with ice-blue eyes. To her great surprise, she strikes up a dizzying correspondence with MaineCatch—yet as her online relationship progresses, life in the real world takes a nosedive. Interpreting this confluence of events as a sign, Angela impulsively decides to risk it all and move to Maine.
But things don't work out quite as she expected. Far from everything familiar, and with little to return to, Angela begins to rebuild her life from the ground up, moving into a tiny cottage and finding work at a local coffee shop. To make friends and make ends meet, she leads a cooking class, slowly discovering the pleasures and secrets of her new small community, and—perhaps—a way to connect her heritage to a future she is only beginning to envision.
The Way Life Should Be is about the search for the right relationship and the right life, the difficulty of finding true love, and the yearning for the home that food represents. Laced with recipes and humor, wisdom and wit, it is at once a clear-eyed portrait of Maine, a compassionate look at modern life and love, and a compelling work of literary fiction that explores the gulf between the way life is and the way we want it to be.
"'Thirty-three-year-old New Yorker Angela Russo, dissatisfied with a career that amounts to 'gliding across a smooth plateau of predictability' and fed up with 'abysmal' blind dates, responds to an online personal ad written by Rich, a sailing instructor from Mount Desert Island, Maine. Angela begins to fall in love with the idea of Maine life just as much as she finds herself falling for Rich, and when her career suddenly goes up in flames, she moves to Mount Desert Island. Once she arrives, however, she learns that her vision of perfect New England life — and her perfect New England man — is far removed from reality. Rather than return to New York, Angela rents a rundown cottage and begins teaching an impromptu cooking class (based on recipes from her Italian grandmother). She befriends an eclectic handful of locals and carves out a new identity for herself. Initially, this tale of a lovelorn city girl out of her element feels like another foray into well-covered territory. But Kline (Desire Lines; Sweet Water) has a perfect sense of character and timing, and her vivid digressions on food (recipes are included) add sugar and spice to what could have been a stale premise.' Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
About the Author
Christina Baker Kline was born in Cambridge, England and raised there as well as in the American South and Maine. She published five books in the 1990s before changing course to take a full-time college teaching position and raise three young children. In the past few years she has begun writing again in earnest.
Her novels include The Way Life Should Be, Desire Lines and Sweet Water. She is co-author, with Christina L. Baker, of The Conversation Begins: Mothers and Daughters Talk about Living Feminism, and editor of Child of Mine, Room to Grow, and Always Too Soon. Her essays, articles, and reviews have appeared in The New York Times Book Review, The Yale Review, Southern Living, Ms., Parents, and Family Life, among other places.
Currently Writer in Residence at Fordham University, Kline has taught literature and creative writing at Yale, NYU, Fordham, the University of Virginia, and Drew University. She is a graduate of Yale (B.A.), Cambridge University (M.A.), and the University of Virginia (M.F.A.), where she was a Henry Hoyns Fellow in Fiction Writing. Most recently, she was a 2005 recipient of a Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation Fellowship and a Writer-in-Residence Fellowship at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. She serves on the advisory board of LandEscapes, a Maine arts group, and donates her time and editing skills to a number of organizations in New Jersey and Maine.
Kline has worked as a caterer, cook, and personal chef on the Maine coast, Martha’s Vineyard, and in Charlottesville, Virginia. She lives in an old house in Montclair, New Jersey, with her husband, David Kline; three boys, Hayden, Will, and Eli; and Lucy, an English Springer Spaniel. She spends summers with extended family in an even older house on Mount Desert Island in Maine.
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