Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Slow Dancing on Price's Pier Mixes Coffee With Love

Give me a story about coffee, and I guarantee you I will love it. I am simply a coffee fanatic. Not cappuccino. Not frappuccino. Not mochas, or lattes, or macchiatos. Just plain, simple coffee. Black. My true favorite is New Orleans-style coffee with chicory. Lisa Dale's novel Slow Dancing on Price's Pier tells readers that chicory was initially included with coffee grounds as a way to make the once-rare treat stretch. Chicory is a root that is darkened so that it looks like coffee, then mixed into coffee or even used as a complete substitute for coffee. Read more here!

Slow Dancing on Price's Pier is part love story, part coffee story. Main character Thea inherited the Dancing Goat coffee shop from her Turkish parents. The Newport, Rhode Island, coffee spot helps center Thea when she and her husband of more than a decade decide to separate. While the two of them seem capable of an amicable parting, there are still complications. One of these is their 10-year-old daughter Irina. Another is Thea's complicated relationship with her husband's family, especially his brother. Thea dated Garrett before she married Jonathan, and the rift between the two brothers has existed for the last ten years.

When Thea and Jonathan separate, Jonathan moves in with Garrett and begins to heal their sibling relationship. However, the dissolution of their marriage also means that Thea is single once again -- a fact that Garrett can't get off his mind. But he has been angry with Thea for so long, the entire family suffers from the hostility between the two of them. As Thea tries to find herself once again, Irina struggles with her new family dynamic. She begins to act out and refuses to stay at Garrett's house with Jonathan.

At the beginning of each chapter, Dale begins with an excerpt from one of Thea's columns in the local newspaper about coffee. The history of coffee and anecdotes about it bring a richness to the novel. I would almost say I found them more intriguing than the slightly chick-lit plot. It is, after all, a love story. However, Dale makes it more than that with the rich stories about coffee and with the dynamic characters she peoples the novel with. I enjoyed both Thea's journey and her coffee tidbits.

Lisa Dale is the author of two previous novels: Simple Wishes and It Happened One Night. I read Slow Dancing on Price's Pier in about a day and a half. I am on a constant quest for beach reads (since I'm headed to the Gulf early in June), and Dale's previous books just might fit the bill. You can follow Dale's reading and writing habits on her blog, Thoughts on Reading, Writing, and Living the Curious Life.

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