Review: One Friday in Napa by Jennifer Hamm

Review: One Friday in Napa by Jennifer Hamm

Vene and her mother, Olivia, have always been at odds. The coldness of their strained relationship has filled Vene with doubt and bewilderment all her life, so when she receives news of her mother’s imminent death, Vene returns to her family’s home, seeking answers before it’s too late.

Told in alternating chapters set fifty years apart, One Friday in Napa is a poignant story of love, longing, betrayal, and sacrifice. In 1946, Olivia struggles with feelings of guilt and regret as she navigates her lonely marriage, while in 1996 curiosity consumes Vene in the quest to uncover her family’s intimate secrets.

The thread connecting the past and present is Olivia’s old Italian cookbook. Her scribbled notes fill the margins of the pages, revealing insights into her complicated past. When Vene stumbles upon the cookbook, she discovers a passion within her mother she didn’t know existed and realizes they may have more in common than she initially thought.

In her powerful debut novel, author Jennifer Hamm explores the complexities of this fraught mother-daughter relationship intertwined with a culinary journey of Californian wines and Italian foods.

A fast-paced read, I tore through the book in just a few sittings. Despite the relatively predictable ending, One Friday in Napa had me crying right up until the final page. It’s a beautiful yet brutal novel written with compassion and grace. I was totally absorbed!

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