Table Manners is a follow-up to Good Things. I didn’t know this until I finished the book but it answered the question as to why the author seemed to assume I would easily follow the back-story to the life of the forty-one year old protagonist Deidre McIntosh, especially when it seemed so eventful: Famous TV personality a la Martha Stewart; canceled show; billionaire boyfriend. While reading Table Manners I wondered why the show was canceled and what Deidre’s life used to be like before and how she met Kevin the boyfriend and whyis it that I felt as if I’d entered the story of her life closer to its end than its middle. I suppose all these answers are to be found in Good Things.After Deidre’s show was canceled, she was offered the chance to create her own line of baked goods under an established confectionery company looking to re-invent itself. But her launch back into the public eye is not as smooth as she had anticipated, and two sets of focus groups have issues with her ideas. While she is dealing with these set-backs, someone looking to enter the gossip journalist hall of fame has set her as a salacious target. On the personal front, a sexy and business savvy woman called Sabine (‘ex-fiancee’ of her boyfriend Kevin) appears to be out to reclaim her man, Kevin’s sister hates Deidre and seems to prefer the Ex, and Deidre’s good friend has a heart attack. There’s no lack of excitement in this book, but the execution of all this excitement is mundane.
King uses a lot of her word count on really boring descriptions and recounts of things in Deidre’s life like what she’s wearing and what she’s cooking (not just what she’s making up for her food line) and on obvious steps like the fact that she “took the escalator to the second floor” in Nordstrom and that she “headed southeast on I-90” towards Jacob’s Point. I didn’t care for that level of detail.
What I would have cared about if given more of a chance, was Deidre herself. She seems a strong, successful and overall very nice woman. A lot of things are thrown at her during Table Manners (which is the biggest strength of this book, how King really does have Deidre wade through issues and contemplate serious failures) and though I was told that she was feeling the stress and I saw that she was working hard towards resolution, King’s writing style simply didn’t allow me to feel the stress, the emotion. I struggled here for a more detailed description of my reaction to this book, but I think in the end, I just wasn’t a fan of King’s writing style. There was too much “Deidre said this, Deidre did that, Deidre felt this way, Deidre went that way” within the body of the story for it to come across as real to me rather than just the reciting of a story someone told me about someone else.
Table Manners isn’t a romance, but the ending is treacly sweet. I wished for something a bit more original than what I got, particularly because the heroine is 41 and all references to her boyfriend where of a pretty special man. In the round, it was an average read for me.