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Book Review: Miss Cecily’s Recipes for Exceptional Ladies by Vicky Zimmerman

If you are looking for a lighthearted read about finding your path, unlikely friendships, and you are someone who loves food, and cookbooks, and books in general, I highly recommend Miss Cecily’s Recipes for Exceptional Ladies by Vicky Zimmerman.

I received an advanced copy of the book from Sourcebooks via NetGalley; all opinions are my own. This post contains  affiliate links that may earn me a commission if you purchase through them. 

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SYNOPSIS – Miss Cecily’s Recipes for Exceptional Ladies

Book Review: Miss Cecily’s Recipes for Exceptional Ladies by Vicky ZimmermanMiss Cecily's Recipes for Exceptional Ladies by Vicky Zimmerman
on June 9th 2020
Genres: Fiction, Coming of Age, Women, Friendship
Pages: 432
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A can't-miss title for fans of chick lit and modern women's fiction.--Library Journal, STARRED review

An unlikely friendship between two stubborn, lonely souls anchors this big-hearted book and dares us all to ask for more.

When her life falls apart on the eve of her 40th birthday, Kate Parker finds herself volunteering at the Lauderdale House for Exceptional Ladies. There she meets 97-year-old Cecily Finn. Cecily's tongue is as sharp as her mind, but she's fed up with pretty much everything.

Having no patience for Kate's choices in life or love, Cecily prescribes her a self-help book...of sorts. Thought for Food: an unintentionally funny 1950s cookbook high on enthusiasm, featuring menus for anything life can throw at the easily dismayed, such as:
Breakfast with a Hangover
Tea for a Crotchety Aunt
Dinner for a Charming Stranger

As she and Cecily break out of their ruts, Kate will learn far more than recipes.
A feel-good summer read with a wicked sense of humor, Vicky Zimmerman's book will teach you that food is for feasting, friends are for savoring, and the way to a man's heart is...irrelevant.

Fans of Jennifer Weiner, Elin Hildenbrand, and Sophie Kinsella will delight in this recipe for confidence, romance, and fun.



I thought Miss Cecily’s Recipes for Exceptional Ladies was a delightful book!

Things I loved:

  • a 40-year-old protagonist, a sassy, cranky octogenarian, and goodness, FOOD.
  • the relatability. Yes, I fully relate to feeling stuck, and yet not moving on from a job that you don’t love because of fear.
  • the menus in the book “Thoughts for Food” – the titles alone made me chortle.

It’s Kate’s 40th birthday, and instead of everything coming together as she hoped, her life kind of falls apart. She finds herself without an apartment, on a “break” from her boyfriend, and living with her mom (while working a job she hates). Hoping to volunteer at an animal shelter, she ends up instead doing food demonstrations at a nursing home. (As it happens when your life is falling apart.) She’s a super reluctant volunteer at the nursing home – so I’m sure you can imagine how that might unroll.

It’s here we first meet Miss Cecily – as she critiques Kate’s cooking. I absolutely fell in love with Miss Cecily. She’s feisty, she’s outspoken, quite often flat-out rude – but underneath it all, there was something special. She used that feistiness to push Kate to want more.

The cast of characters was a delight and colorfully drawn – even the ones I didn’t necessarily care for, like Kate’s mum and Kate’s boyfriend.

This was a lovely, cheery, delightful read, but it was a bit long. (I could have done with a few less chapters on her ex-boyfriend and all his dysfunctions. I really didn’t care for him anyway.)

Also, if you are the type of person who likes recipes interspersed throughout a book, you WILL be disappointed, because this isn’t that kind of foodie book. (This didn’t bother me, but it may disappoint some.)

Despite the lack of recipes, I DO think it would be an excellent choice for book clubs, particularly if you’re the kind that likes to pair food to eat with the book theme. Personally, keeping in line with Miss Cecily’s Thoughts for Food cookbook, my theme would be fun “Dinner for a Book Club that Doesn’t Always Finish the Book But Likes Wine”. It would likely involve crudités, pizza cut in small squares (so you can have “just a little bite because I’m watching my diet”, and cake bites.

I digress.

I won’t spoil the fun, but definitely DO read the note from the author!


Wonderful characters, story that draws you in (even if the main character has her moments where you want to shake her), and one lovingly cantankerous old lady. All in all, a lighthearted tale about being true to yourself, finding your true path, and unlikely friendships.

I’m giving Miss Cecily’s Recipes for Exceptional Ladies delight four-and-a-half stars (rounding up to five on for the review sites.)

If this book sounds interesting, here are some other suggestions:

Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune by Roselle Lim

The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy E. Reichert

If you think Miss Cecily’s Recipes for Exceptional Ladies sounds like a book for you, let me know in the comments!

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