Hillary Manton Lodge: Blue Door Series
A Table by the Door; Reservations for Two; Together at the Table
Food writer Juliette D’Alisa is the 3rd generation of chefs and restaurant
owners in her family. Her father is Italian, her mother is French and she and her siblings are
tri-lingual. Hillary Manton Lodge creates what she calls “really funny tension about French versus
Italian culture, and that tension created both a really lovely marriage as well as a successful
In this food-romance, we follow the ups and downs of Juliette’s love life,
partially inspired by the author’s life. She told me, “There are some elements to Juliette that are
definitely biographical –I met my husband in a very similar way to the way that she meets the
character of Neil, and the bit about losing power while managing her online dating account is based
on something that happened to me. She’s also very twitchy about the relationship, which, ahem, is also true of myself.”
Secrets are an intriguing part of the Blue Door series, from secrets between parents and children to secret drawers (who wouldn't want one of those!). Juliette’s Grandmère left her an enormous prep-table in which she finds a photo from France during WWII which looks surprisingly like one of her brothers. This picture leads the way to finding her grandmother’s letters and journals (also hidden), secret passageways and her real…wait—no spoilers here!
I asked Hillary about the purpose of the thread of secrets that wind their way through these three novels. “I think the purpose is twofold. First, they help propel the plot, and I’m a fairly plot-y writer, so that makes me happy. Second, how Juliette deals with secrets is a very telling part of her character. How she deals with secrets in the third book versus the second was a very important character note for me. We have to see her grow and open up to people, and those changes influence the way the historical story in book three unfolds.”
Hillary is a cook herself. And her books are sprinkled with wonderful recipes that she developed herself—I have to admit I copied many of them to try! “A lot of the ones in the third book especially are recipes in my regular rotation that I reach for a lot.”
Tomato Basil Soup is a new recipe that Hillary has developed and is sharing with us—her own picture too!