Grace learns that she is infertile and will never carry a baby to term. Grace's biggest desire is to give birth and the dream is a done deal. Grace becomes lost in a blue-funk of depression. When she visits a Chinese face-reader (fortune teller) in denial and still hopeful that maybe the stars will present different information, she doesn't get the assurance that a miracle may happen.
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She and her husband Pete have recently re-located to China from London, for Pete's job. He works long nights at a new casino that is going to bring in big money to the area. There are investors to satisfy and Pete has to put in his time. Grace is often left on her own to sit with thoughts of her deceased mother. She holds conversations with her mother's spirit and is taking the loss very hard.
Pete obtains a sleeping pill prescription and Grace eats the pills in order to avoid being awake in place of nourishment she needs. She hates having to dress up and accompany Pete to different social functions dealing with his job. She'd rather sleep.
Her mother was an avid baker and as a last resort to keep her sanity, Grace starts baking from memorized recipes she learned from her mother. It seems that food might be her salvation. She loves restaurants and the idea of preparing food makes her smile. Spices, colors, and arrangements of food appeals to Grace. Her last job in London she worked as a waitress. She handled food but had nothing to do with preparing it. Maybe China will be different and her baked goods will sale.
Grace makes an appointment to look at an available property without discussing it with Pete first. When Pete comes home from work she asks him if she can open a cafe. Shy and a bit submissive it takes her a minute to gain the confidence to tell him how badly she needs something of her own. They are both disappointed that they won't be able to create a baby together that it threatens their marriage. He is livid that she has made plans without consulting him first. Pete generally handles the family finances and his word is golden. He refuses to hear Grace and her need to live outside of his shadow.
She decides that is his problem and moves ahead with her plans to open Lillian's which is named for her mother. The cafe is a something she needs in order to breathe, a sort of life line. Leon is a Frenchman who is connected to Pete through the casino. He is head chef at Aurora's, a restaurant where Pete takes Grace. His wife Celine and Grace become friends. A “foodie” like Grace, Leon offers to show her how to make macaroons. The light fluffy cookie is a favorite from her childhood and time spent with her mama in Paris. Grace perfects her recipe and macaroons become her signature menu item.
She throws her heart into preparing for her grand opening. She hires Rilla a shy young Filipino woman who needs the job to send money home to her kids. Grace also hires Gigi a young woman with a fiery spirit who comes in everyday and studies the want ads highlighting potential jobs. She appears to be pregnant and without a lot of fashion choices based on her too tight tee shirts. An older woman comes in everyday and orders a cup of tea. They introduce themselves without an interpreter. Her name is Yok Lan. They work out a way to communicate and Yok Lan is there everyday. Rilla tells Grace that Gigi is the elder's grand daughter.
Mallory comes in everyday too, and although she isn't on payroll she doesn't have to work and enjoys spending time with the women. Her husband Don is a good provider. She is part of the small circle of women at Lillian's who fast become family and a support network for each other.
When Pete and Grace attend a tennis function charity match with two other couples Pete has a meltdown. A serve by Leon catches Pete in the head and he loses it. Pete curses Leon out while accusing him of hitting on Grace. Pete is horribly jealous of Leon. He makes an ass of himself. When he comes to his senses the truth comes out. He slept with a prostitute and was projecting his feelings onto Grace and Leon in a guilt filled haze.
It becomes clear to the women working at Lillian's that Gigi's baby's father is not going to be involved in her life or that of his baby. They rally around her. She and her mother stay at odds and Gigi knows she and her grandmother will be put out on the streets if she doesn't follow her mother's orders to quit Lillian's and get a more substantial paying position at the casino. Gigi has a gift with food and has been a great help to Grace.
Rilla used to work in Dubai where she was taken advantage of by her employer. Her friend Jocelyn is in the same predicament. She shelters Jocelyn inside of Lillian's at night. Grace comes in early one morning and finds them asleep on the floor. She throws them out without asking for an explanation.
When Grace has heard the full story she takes Railla in to her home. Working together with Don's connections, Mallory gets the woman a new passport and a plane ticket home to the Philippines.
Grace forgives Pete and they start to rebuild trust in their marriage. They are going to have to move again. Pete is needed to help open a new casino in Australia. It breaks Lillian's heart. She opens a new cafe in Australia and the best part is bittersweet. a Gigi is feeling tied down with the baby and knows that Grace can't have children of her own. She gives baby Faith to Grace and Pete and they make sure they are all together a few times a year. They visit for long periods of time with the cafe family they've created.
Best part of story, including ending:
I liked that Grace was able to overcome her depression and find something to satisfy her.
Best scene in story:
My favorite scene was when Grace shut Pete down for cheating on her with a prostitute.
Opinion about the main character:
I liked most that Grace opened her cafe from scratch and found fulfillment within herself.