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A Place at the Table

A Place at the Table

A Novel

  • reading group guide
From Susan Rebecca White, award-winning author of A Soft Place to Land and Bound South, comes a breathtaking story of three richly nuanced outcasts whose paths converge in a chic Manhattan café as they realize they must give up everything they thought they knew to find a home at last.

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.
  • Touchstone | 
  • 336 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781451608878 | 
  • June 2013
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Video

Susan Rebecca White: What Are You Reading?

Susan Rebecca White on how Meg Wolitzer's The Interestings reminds her of her college years.

Read an Excerpt

A Place at the Table Prologue
Alice and James

in North Carolina

Hear an Excerpt

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for A Place at the Table includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Susan Rebecca White. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


Introduction

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

About the Author

Susan Rebecca White
Photograph by Dorothy O'Connor

Susan Rebecca White

Susan Rebecca White is the author of the critically acclaimed novels Bound South and A Soft Place to Land. Born and raised in Atlanta, she spent many years in San Francisco before returning to her hometown, where she teaches creative writing at Emory University. Visit her online at SusanRebeccaWhite.com.

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