The Main Ingredient

By: Margo Wilson

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West Coast Food Editor Wendy Whitley returns with reluctance to her childhood home in Weewampum, Wis. to assist her mother in her final days. It turns out her mother is in better shape than expected, and so Wendy joins her high school gal pals, Amber Moore and Merribeth Hartwell in a new restaurant venture.

Unfortunately, their new restaurant, Amberosia, is a short-lived project. The restaurant burns to the ground. The women are convinced the fire is arson, set to scare them off their political efforts to oppose moving the town's downtown hospital to a fine new building along the interstate.

The arson investigation opens old wounds that were there back when Wendy left town, and opens painful fresh ones. The women are pretty much on their own as they investigate who is responsible for the torching of their restaurant, forcing Wendy to contemplate what are the compelling and what the repelling things about of her hometown, what the price of mother-daughter love? She and her mother have never been close.


There is only one word to describe this book. Delicious! The description is not limited to the delightful recipes that begin each chapter. Margo Wilson has written a wonderful, and humorously fun novel here, one that kept me chuckling at times with the witty descriptions, other times astonished at the heedless adventures these daredevil women undertake, getting themselves embroiled in the town's political feuds.

Each Chapter begins with a delicious-looking recipe. Already I am tempted to try Refrigerator Pickles. My own mother used to make those when I was a girl, but I wasn't brave enough then to try it.

The story takes surprising twists and turns while revealing old secrets and the price of family and mother-daughter love. Wendy Whitley returns from her big city Food Editing job to be home in Weewampum, Wis. for her ill mother's final days. She finds her mother cantankerous as ever, and quite set in her ways, so Wendy has plenty of time to rejoin her two best friends in a restaurant venture which comes to an abrupt halt when the new restaurant burns to the ground shortly after its grand opening. The three women are certain it was arson, and begin investigating in order to find the culprit because the Fire Marshall thinks they did it in order to collect the insurance money. They have no desire to spend the rest of their lives in Waysippee State Prison for Women, so they have to solve the arson case.

Not only is this story plot different, it is full of surprises. Author Margo Wilson has filled the manuscript with interesting thoughts and conversation that left me chuckling at her use of words. Added to that is the startling way she lead me to realize every person the women investigated has a secret and/or a reason to be guilty. I hurried to turn every page. This is a delightful page-turner of a story.

Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

*Reviewed by guest reviewer, Delores Goodrick Beggs.


Margo Wilson