Ross, Ann B.
Although “everybody knows that it’s not [her] custom to meddle in other people’s business,” Miss Julia just can’t stand idly by and watch as Hazel Marie tries unsuccessfully to balance two new babies, an invalid cook and an unsavory uncle who has dropped in for what seems destined to be a permanent visit. Unfortunately, Hazel Marie has never been a successful cook or housewife and her bursting household gradually slides into a state of utter chaos as she does her best to cope. Miss Julia becomes concerned as she watches Hazel Marie turn into a sloppy mess who is in – as Miss Julia believes – grave danger of losing her husband, Mr. Pickens. Determined not to let him fall back into his pre-marital ways, Miss Julia sets out to help Hazel Marie by enlisting the other ladies (and a few men) of the community to help her compile a cookbook and give cooking demonstrations to her frazzled friend. With the help of her ever-faithful Lillian and an old country granny (as well as a little bit of snooping and prying), Miss Julia does her best to save the Pickens marriage and Hazel Marie’s sanity, but will her plan succeed? Or will all her efforts only stir up more trouble?
Though I usually don’t like recipe-based series books like this one which are often used as filler between the regular books, the strength of this series has always been its characters and that remains true even for this book. The spotlight of this installment falls primarily on James, Granny Wiggins, Mr. Pickens and Hazel Marie but all of the series regulars have their own moments in the limelight. Light humor, an entertaining storyline and a few very sweet excerpts (including Mr. Pickens’ defense of Lloyd: “In fact, it’s a good thing we didn’t have a boy. He’d never be able to measure up to the one we have”) give the book an endearing quality that negates its relative superficiality. In summary, though it is not the best book in the series, it is a nice addition that whets this fan’s appetite for the next full novel!
Please note – the original post had an excerpt by another reviewer added to the end. This was a mistake in formatting and I apologize to that reviewer for the accident.