Skip to main content




Lottie Hazell's debut novel starts with what could be a rather predictable scene in a traditional comedy of manners. Engaged couple Kit and Piglet (a nickname she's had since childhood) are preparing to host their first-ever dinner party in the new home they've just purchased in Oxford. The house isn't even fully unpacked yet; instead of a dining table, they rig up a surface on a pile of boxes. Piglet, a professional cookbook editor and accomplished home cook, is eager to impress their friends and welcome them into the life she and Kit are about to share together.

But despite this charming opener, it soon becomes clear that there are cracks around the edges in Piglet and Kit's relationship. Piglet's friends don't really like Kit; the two come from vastly different socioeconomic backgrounds (highlighted even more as responsibilities for wedding finances come to the fore); and, to top it all off, just 13 days before they're scheduled to marry, Kit confesses a shocking betrayal.

"The propulsive train-headed-off-a-cliff nature of the narrative will keep people turning pages, but Piglet's vulnerability and resilience will be what readers remember."

Piglet's response --- what with the expectations of her family, the financial investment of her in-laws, and the elaborate croquembouche she's decided to prepare herself --- is to collapse into a sort of numbness, neither confronting Kit nor forgiving him, exactly. But even as she counts down (with a sort of dread) to what should be the happiest day of her life, she can't envision putting the brakes on this elaborate event.

When Piglet tells best friend Margot --- who has just given birth to her first child --- about what Kit has done, Margot puts her foot down, refusing to serve as matron of honor or even attend the wedding. Faced with the prospect of losing not only her fiancé but also her best friend, Piglet marches toward her seemingly inevitable future not with anticipation but with dread.

Piglet's nickname, as you might imagine, arises from a childhood story about the time she ate her younger sister's entire birthday cake to protect her from an emotionally difficult experience. Since then, Piglet has coped with other emotionally fraught situations in a similar vein, often traveling secretly to restaurants and ordering everything on the menu. Although PIGLET at times risks oversimplifying its central metaphor --- Piglet enjoys food to excess in order to try to compensate for her emotional emptiness --- the combination of Hazell's effective character development for Piglet and her descriptions of food more than salvage the novel.

To call the food descriptions mouthwatering doesn't do them justice; they're both more complicated and, frankly, more baroque than that (the illustration of the overstuffed burger on the book jacket is a good tip-off). A scene where Piglet's soon-to-be in-laws tuck into a pork roast is horrific, and a late scene where Piglet finally cooks a pasta dinner solely for her own satisfaction is nothing short of redemptive. The propulsive train-headed-off-a-cliff nature of the narrative will keep people turning pages, but Piglet's vulnerability and resilience will be what readers remember.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl on March 16, 2024

by Lottie Hazell

  • Publication Date: February 27, 2024
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
  • ISBN-10: 125028984X
  • ISBN-13: 9781250289841