Thursday, May 18, 2023

May Read: Saturday Night at the Lakeside Supper Club by J. Ryan Stradal


I can't properly explain my fascination with supper clubs, especially Midwest supper clubs. I recently told my partner I'd love to drive to Wisconsin and Minnesota just to eat at a few classic supper clubs. Woodsy decor, a menu that hasn't changed in years, and a classic cocktail. Sounds perfect to me. 

I grabbed this novel by J. Ryan Stradal and devoured it over the weekend. His first novel Kitchens of the Great Midwest gave me a taste of his writing, so I had an idea of what to expect. I wasn't disappointed. 

Mariel Prager is the third generation of a supper club owning family. Located near Bear Jaw Lake Minnesota, the Lakeside Supper Club was a popular destination for families all year round. Her grandparents have kept it going through hard work and dedication, and now Mariel is going to inherit the supper club. Her mother Florence hates the supper club and wants nothing to do with it. 

Mariel falls in love with Ned, who is the heir to his family's chain of restaurants. Ned's got the dream of making customers happy, but not the drive or desire to run a chain of restaurants and build the business.  Both are at a crossroads in their lives. 

This novel moves back and forth between Florence's younger years (the 1930's) up through Mariel's early years and marriage to Ned in the 1980's. It finishes in present day, but I'm not going to tell you with who!

Lakeside is about generational guilt, expectations, and breaking free of past hurts. Florence is one heck of a character--you see her from early childhood to an elderly woman, and she's by far the most compelling character in the novel. You can't help but love Florence, even when she's at her worst. Mariel is the heart of the novel, with her dedication to the supper club and her love of tradition and Ned. Ned is someone on a journey to realize his own worth, and to become the man he wants to be, not the man he is expected to be. There's tragedy, comedy, and that perfect vibe of the wilds of Minnesota captured perfectly.

This novel took me back to childhood memories of traveling to Minnesota and Wisconsin for summer vacations. I loved those vacations, even if they were full of chaos. We never did visit supper clubs, but spent time boating, fishing, swimming, and staying in cabins. Perfect vacation for kiddos. 

Rating: 4/6 for a family saga that unfolds through the years. Decisions made ripple through each generation, but the supper club stands as a beacon for all. 

Available in hardcover, ebook, and audio. 

No comments :

Post a Comment