The Year of Soup

Romance - Contemporary
300 Pages
Reviewed on 02/18/2015
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

The Laws of Attraction is Howard Reiss' third novel.

Howard Reiss' second novel, The Year of Soup was inspired by a dinner at a small restaurant in Northampton, Mass. when an old professorial looking gentlemen with a bottle of wine in a paper bag sat down at a table in the corner and was immediately joined by the young, female proprietor and chef. Although he couldn't hear their conversation, he tried to imagine it and their stories as well. This novel received the Silver Medal for Best Fiction in the North-East Region at the Independent Publisher Book Awards in 2013.

Howard Reiss' first novel, A Family Institution, published in 2011, was based on a true incident involving the discovery of an aunt hidden from the family who spent most of her life in Pilgrim State Hospital. The main character's quest for the truth about what happened takes him to Pilgrim State where he takes a job in the records department, learns a lot about how the mentally ill and, in particular, his aunt was treated in the 1950s, and in the process turns his life and family upside down. It's a serious subject approached with a strong comic touch and has been a growing favorite of book clubs around the country.

Howard Reiss is a graduate of Dartmouth College and Columbia Law School. He won writing prizes at both institutions, but confined his creative energies for the first 25 years after graduation to designing greeting cards and writing songs for his wife and daughters on the guitar. He also wrote a law book, which sat proudly on his parents’ coffee table. Howard helped found a soup kitchen in Nyack, New York where he lives and runs, supports book publishers by buying more books than he can possibly find the time to read, and is somewhere north of 50.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Katelyn Hensel for Readers' Favorite

The Year of Soup by Howard Reiss was a wonderfully insightful read. Tess is relatively put out. After three jobs and as many failed loves, she's ready to break out of the habit that she's in. Starting a restaurant seems only natural, as she's always depended on her family recipes for soup to pull her out of her funks before. A loyal patron of her new restaurant, Beany, seems to be a constant figure when - out of the blue - he commits suicide. Confused and dismayed, Tess turns introspective about her own life and future through the help of the letters that Beany left behind.

As an English major, I think I could appreciate some of the more literary references from Tess of the d'Urbervilles and more. I particularly liked Beany, for all the small amount of screen time he got, and was very put out when he tragically passed. The subsequent stream of letters from him alternated between heart warming and heart wrenching. It all goes to show you how skilled Howard Reiss is at making characters seem real and lovable in the space of a few pages or paragraphs.

The Year of Soup is a hands-down, great read. I would recommend this book for anyone who loves mysteries, emotional fiction, and self-discovery because those are the prevailing elements here, time and time again. Howard Reiss is able to deftly weave story into sustenance and create a plot that is beautifully original without straying too far from classic themes of this sort of genre.