A Place at the Table
Alice Stone is famous for the homemade southern cuisine she serves at Café Andres, a chic gathering place for New York’s cultural illuminati, and in her groundbreaking southern cookbook. But her past, on the other hand, is a mystery to all who know her. Upon Alice’s retirement, Bobby Banks, a young gay man ostracized by his family in Georgia, sets out to revive the aging café with his own brand of southern cooking while struggling with heartbreak like he’s never known. Meanwhile, seeking respite from the breakup of her marriage, wealthy divorcée Amelia Brighton finds solace in the company and food at Café Andres, until a family secret comes to light in the pages of Alice’s cookbook that threatens to upend her life.
In her most accomplished novel yet, Susan Rebecca White braids together the stories of these three unforgettable characters who must learn that when you embrace the thing that makes you different, you finally may become whole.
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Reading Group Guide
Spanning over sixty years and along the East Coast, A Place at the Table follows Alice Stone, an African-American chef who flees North Carolina in the 1930s; Bobby Banks, a Southern Baptist preacher’s gay son who moves to New York City just before the AIDS epidemic begins; and Amelia Brighton, a newly-single Connecticut mother of two who yearns to rediscover herself after a painful separation. While their backgrounds vary, each character becomes inextricably linked to Café Andres, a hole-in-the-wall Manhattan restaurant made famous by Alice’s cooking and its clientele. As Alice, Bobby, and Amelia persevere through personal struggles, broken hearts, and secrets, they ultimately discover the power food—and love—possesses to bring people together both within and beyond the kitchen.
Topics & Questions for Discussion
1. In Alice’s prologue, language is a symbol of empowerment and oppression for her family, and her relatives both pride themselves i see more