Tuesday, February 4, 2014

That Part Was True and a Giveaway

Note: The winners of this giveaway are Lisa G. and Patricia B. Congratulations to Lisa and Patricia, and thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway.

As Valentine’s Day approaches, what comes to mind when you hear those words? Is it love, romance, and possible food? What about a charming book that features all of that?

Author Deborah McKinlay’s latest novel, THAT PART WAS TRUE, combines all these elements for a tantalizing tale of two individuals connecting through a series of letters.

As a special treat – thanks to the author and the lovely Marissa at Grand Central Publishing – I have 2 copies of THAT PART WAS TRUE to giveaway. Please see the end of the post for the details. I’m sharing my thoughts on this delightful book and the author is sharing a brief excerpt to entice your reading taste buds even more.

THAT PART WAS TRUE by Deborah McKinlay

That Part Was True coverIt all began with a simple letter that fuels this richly crafted story about two individuals, the lives they lead and how they connect. It’s a blend of romance, food, soul searching and forgiveness. 

Eve Petworth is a lonely British woman who has cowered down to her ex-husband, her over domineering mother and now her outspoken daughter. She reaches out, through a letter, to American author Jackson Cooper to compliment a scene in one of his books. Thus discovering their mutual love of cooking and food.

Jackson, while quite successful, is also lonely and has his share of awkward problems including his ex-wife’s new lover and an over-zealous neighbor. He finds the correspondence refreshing and a welcome break from his day-to-day life.

The correspondence increases and develops into much more for each of them. They open up to one another offering caring advice. As they begin to confront their own problems, a special meeting is planned in Paris for them to finally meet. However, Eve fears this meeting can never happen.

Author Deborah McKinlay draws you in, making you feel comfortable with both Eve and Jackson. They are realistic and likable with faults and problems readers can relate to. 

THAT PART WAS TRUE is a story that will stay with you long after the last sentence has been read. It deals with learning to forgive one’s own past, being honest with yourself and how friendship helps us overcome life’s problems. It’s a touching story with a good mix of romance, intrigue and funny moments, as well as yummy food references (and a couple of recipes).

McKinlay does an excellent job taking the reader from England to America and back again. No matter the location, McKinlay’s vibrant descriptions makes the reader feel they’re in the setting. The story flows smoothly and swiftly, while keeping you wondering and hoping with an array of rich characters.

THAT PART WAS TRUE shines a new light on how letter writing can change the course of your life. 

That Part Was True by Deborah McKinlay, Grand Central Publishing, @2014, ISBN: 978-1455573653, Hardcover, 240 Pages 

FTC Full Disclosure - This book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.


Deborah McKinlay has published half a dozen non-fiction titles in the UK and one previous novel, THE VIEW FROM HERE

Her books have been translated into numerous languages and her work has appeared in British Vogue, Cosmopolitan, and Esquire

She lives and writes in the west of England. 


        Afterward, they ate pheasant casserole. Eve had taken the casserole from the freezer that morning, removed it from its plastic container, and reheated it without ceremony, ignoring the sticky label on top, which, in her own hand, stated, “Sauce needs work.” The sauce did need work, she thought after her first, testing mouthful. She spooned some salt from the silver dish in front of her and sprinkled it over her plate, but it didn’t improve things much.
        Izzy did not comment on the sauce, merely ventured with mild, almost unconscious, disapproval that pheasant casserole was a bit wintry for a June lunch. She was right about that, of course. But Eve had found that the will even to cook for this particular occasion had deserted her. They were marking the anniversary of Eve’s mother’s, Izzy’s grandmother’s, death. Virginia Lowell had died on a bright, cool afternoon just like this one, exactly twelve months previously. It had been Izzy’s idea to mark the day.
        “I’ll come down, Mummy,” she’d said, shouted almost, over the telephone from London the previous week.
        Eve had been able to hear traffic behind her and had imagined Izzy, dressed in some modish work outfit, hurrying from one important thing to another important thing, making steady, thoroughbred headway.
       “We should have a nice lunch together at least. We can’t just behave as if it were a normal day.”
        Eve had heard reproach in this and had acquiesced, the way she always did to Izzy, who had rung off, swiftly, leaving Eve with the severed end of the exchange. The plan had been set.
        Now Izzy turned to the end of the table. She had brought a small portrait of her grandmother down from the girlhood bedroom she still used on visits, and propped it against the chair with the ghost in it—a wreath at a shrine—to watch over them while they ate. She tipped her wineglass to the vivacious face and said, “Chin chin, darling.” Then she bit back a threatening tear with her usual brackish stoicism.
        Izzy had been, Eve knew, not only heartbroken, but shocked by the death of her grandmother—so little happened to Izzy that Izzy did not want to happen.
       “But she was young,” she had protested, over and over, when Eve had telephoned her with the news, although Virginia had been almost eighty. Not that Virginia had ever publicly admitted her age. And no one who’d met her would have guessed it; she’d been a beauty to the last.
        Virginia had been living with Eve, her only child, for seven years by the time she died, but Eve’s house, despite its six bedrooms, four bathrooms, generous kitchen, and selection of reception rooms, had never accommodated the pair of them easily.
        It was a question of personality. Virginia had been a woman with personality for four. “I kept your share, dear,” she had said, more than once, to Eve, because, in addition to being a beauty, a wit, and a bon vivant, Eve’s mother had been a bitch.
      Eve, whose husband had flown the coop early, just as Virginia had predicted he would, had cared for her mother, tirelessly and dutifully, and donated to this enterprise her freedom, her confidence, and her self-respect. But these were things that Virginia had been robbing her of since birth, and particularly since Eve’s father’s death from a heart attack—a tragedy which his wife had quickly adopted as her own, regardless of their already tense marriage—when Eve was five.
       Virginia’s widowhood had hosted a variety of lovers and, transiently, a second husband, but her true affections had only ever been roused by Izzy, in whom she had seen herself. Today, Izzy had wanted to sit outside once the drinks were poured, and when Eve had explained that the garden furniture had been repainted the day before and was tacky still, she’d said, “You should have had it done at Easter,” in a voice that had brought Virginia, vividly, from the grave.
      Thinking back, in the formal, dining room quiet, Eve could not remember a single sincere disagreement between her mother and her daughter. There had been many arguments; days when they’d each complained shrilly to her about the other’s shortcomings. Those hysterias, though, had always waned as suddenly and irrationally as they’d erupted. And Eve had been outnumbered, and ignored, all over again.
      After a more seasonal slice of lemon tart and some carefully neutral, on Eve’s part at least, reminiscing about their very different experiences of Virginia over coffee, Izzy went to visit an old school friend, and Eve, relieved, cleared the lunch things.
      Gwen had left for the day so Eve rinsed the dishes and stacked them in the dishwasher. She would have done, even if Gwen had been there. Gwen often said that she did not know why Eve paid her; there was so little for her to do these days. But, in fact, they both knew why Eve paid Gwen to come up from the village three times a week. She paid her for her company, her pleasant, unquestioning company.
      Once the kitchen was orderly and pretty, a reflection of Eve herself, though she never would have seen it, she sat at the kitchen table beneath the window with the view of the plum tree and took Jackson Cooper’s—Jack’s—postcard from the back of the tan leather folio where she kept recipe clippings, and read it again. Then she went into the library and sat at the rolltop desk, where she had sat to address the invitations to Izzy’s christening and to sign her divorce papers and to make the lists of food she’d need for her mother’s funeral, and she flipped open the lid of the slim blue computer that Izzy had brought her the previous Christmas. There was a contact e-mail address on the website.

Dear Jack Cooper,
No, I don’t cook professionally.
Eve Petworth

For love then?

For reassurance, order and comfort. You?

For love.


This giveaway is for 2 copies of THAT PART WAS TRUE and is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada.

To enter, please send me an e-mail (mcbookshelf@gmail.com) with the subject line, “Win That Part Was True.” Your message should include your name and mailing address. The deadline to enter this giveaway for a chance to win a copy of THAT PART WAS TRUE is 8 p.m. (EST) on Thursday, Feb. 13.

Thanks so much for stopping by today. I hope between my review and the author’s excerpt, we have enticed you to check out THAT PART WAS TRUE (which releases today). A bit of fun news about the author’s work – BBC Films has just optioned the novel for a movie. You can read about it online here.


  1. Mason - I think that's such an interesting approach to telling a story: connecting through letters. I think you can learn a lot from the way people write, and it makes sense that people would form a relationship that way. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Sounds like another one to add to my list. Interesting way to tell a story.


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.