A Winter in New York by Josie Silver

Iris comes to New York in desperate need of a fresh start and some happiness in her life. Reeling from her mother’s death (her only family) and an abusive ex, the young and talented chef finds refuge in a noodle house and an instant best friend who’s determined to get her out of her shell.

At a festival, Iris is mesmerized by a gelateria when she recognizes the front door from a photo her mother would never tell her about. She goes back the next day, meets dashing and lovely Gio, and learns the store is about to close because the secret recipe holder had a stroke and can’t remember it. But she has it. How? Why would her mother never tell her? What should she do? If she tells them she has it, what kind of family secrets would it reveal? She decides she can’t take that chance and tells Gio she’s a chef and can help him recreate the gelato. And let the deception begin.

So, I didn’t like the premise but came around to really liking the book. I’m never a huge fan of the secret-keeping and deception themes, and this one seemed so unnecessary at the beginning. Why not just be honest? Or slip the recipe under the door anonymously? But the fantastic writing really made up for the premise—there were many passages I read again and again, the characters were beautifully written, you could really feel the connection and the beauty of the important moments.

And, I ended up understanding the premise to a certain point—you don’t know what kind of ugliness you can open up by revealing a secret without knowing anything about the family or history. What really bothered me was that Iris figures out that the longer she keeps the secret, the more she’s hurting Gio, but she still doesn’t come clean.

The connection between Gio and Iris, plus the other characters, was the highlight of the book—two people who’ve dealt with sadness and heartbreak have a chance at happiness. Gio’s family was hilarious, loving, and quintessentially New York Italian; Iris’ friend Bobby was funny and so loyal; and even the newly introduced characters were fantastic. One other quick thing I’d say is the ending is a bit anti-climactic.

Rating: 4
Steam: Low
Themes and Tropes: Secrets, Miscommunication, Widower, Abusive Ex, Proximity
Pair With: Your favorite Italian wine. A few of mine are Cafaggio Chianti Classico Riserva, Masottina Prosecco Brut, and Sella & Mosca Cannonau di Sardegna Riserva