Review: Love and Biology at the Center of the Universe, by Jennie Shortridge

Love and Biology at the Center of the Universe
Jennie Shortridge
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When I first picked up Love and Biology… at Half Price Books, I thought it would be exactly the kind of read I was looking for. After all, it’s about a woman who flees her troubled marriage and goes to work in a popular bakery/cafe in Seattle. “Oh,” I thought, “there will be rain and coffee and romance and she’ll find herself and be independent.”

Well there is rain, and coffee, and romance, but somehow this novel isn’t quite what I hoped. I mean – I don’t hate it, I just think the characters need depth. Mira Serafino, for example, is very much a stereotype of Italian-American women of a certain age (one older than my own), with a young daughter (young but grown – we’re beyond the age of acne treatments), a teaching position she doesn’t seem to particularly like, and a marriage in which she’s grown complacent, and her identity seems completely centered on home and hearth.

There’s nothing wrong with that, but I was hoping for something in the vein of Bread Alone and got something more like Francesca’s Kitchen.

So I did what I always do when a book doesn’t fit: I set it aside to re-read later. I picked it up again recently because I needed bathtub reading, and was able to get more into Mira’s story – and the coffee shop scenes are well written, but I can’t shake the feeling that this book could have been something more, or that I’m missing the point.