The Last Suppers

The Last Suppers

“A gorgeous novel that finds beauty in the most unlikely of places.” —Susan Wiggs, #1 New York Times bestselling authorSet in 1950s Louisiana, Mandy Mikulencak’s beautifully written and emotionally moving novel evokes both The Help and Dead Man Walking with the story of an unforgettable woman whose quest to provide meals for death row prisoners leads her into the secrets o...

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Title:The Last Suppers
Author:Mandy Mikulencak
Rating:
Edition Language:English

The Last Suppers Reviews

  • Susan Peterson

    I was instantly drawn to this book and its story when I first read about it...and this book lived up to all my expectations! Ginny Polk is a prison cook in Louisiana in the 1950’s, a time of racial injustices and a prison system that is less than humane. Ginny takes on a special responsibility all her own...providing “last suppers”for the men on death row, a job she takes personally, a job that is frowned upon by the prison board. Ginny is an amazing character; strong, feisty, and independent, b

    I was instantly drawn to this book and its story when I first read about it...and this book lived up to all my expectations! Ginny Polk is a prison cook in Louisiana in the 1950’s, a time of racial injustices and a prison system that is less than humane. Ginny takes on a special responsibility all her own...providing “last suppers”for the men on death row, a job she takes personally, a job that is frowned upon by the prison board. Ginny is an amazing character; strong, feisty, and independent, but with a caring heart that seeks out humanity in everyone...death row inmates, prison guards, and those she is closest too. Ginny’s story is compelling and poignant, a story of truth, mercy, and a quest for justice. The Last Suppers is unputdownable and unforgettable.

  • Julie

    The Last Suppers is a 2017 Mandy Mikulencak Kensington publication.

    A thought provoking, complex, and moving story-

    Ginny works at Louisiana’s Greenmount State Penitentiary during the 1950’s as a prison cook. She has started a program for the death row inmates where she offers to cook them anything they desire for their ‘last meal.'

    Ginny has a very complicated past which, once it is revealed, will explain her deep devotion to her job, which has wrought complications between her mother, Miriam, an

    The Last Suppers is a 2017 Mandy Mikulencak Kensington publication.

    A thought provoking, complex, and moving story-

    Ginny works at Louisiana’s Greenmount State Penitentiary during the 1950’s as a prison cook. She has started a program for the death row inmates where she offers to cook them anything they desire for their ‘last meal.'

    Ginny has a very complicated past which, once it is revealed, will explain her deep devotion to her job, which has wrought complications between her mother, Miriam, and her lover, Roscoe, who just so happens to be the prison warden.

    Roscoe and Ginny try to keep their relationship a secret, along with Ginny’s offer to cook for the worst of the worst inmates, but the entire balancing act soon begins to topple over when shocking revelations come to light regarding the death of Ginny’s father, many years ago.

    I don’t know what I was expecting from this book, but this certainly wasn’t it. Wow. I confess I’m feeling a bit stunned by this novel.

    The story has the potential to reach a broad audience because it is more than just historical fiction. It is also a family drama and a mystery, with a controversial love story, featuring the importance of food -the memories and comfort it can evoke- rounding things out.

    The story touches on a myriad of topics, such as racial tensions, defying social norms, the death penalty, and compassion for the families of death row inmates, just to name a few.

    Ginny’s psychological need to provide these meals harkens back to a hideous decision her mother made, and the deep impact it has on Ginny in her adult life, including her relationship with Roscoe.

    This is a heartbreaking story that juxtapositions the best and worst of humanity, zeroing in on the blurred lines between prisoners and their families, who also suffer the intense pain of losing a loved one and the stigma they live with.

    While it may seem that Ginny is offering cold-blooded murderers generosity he certainly does not deserve, I believe in her heart, it was just as much about offering a bit of comfort to the inmates’ family, as well as assuaging her own guilt.

    But, at the heart of the story is the role food plays in our lives, under the best and the very worst of times. It’s not so much about feeding the body as it is about feeding the spirit, and offering solace for the soul.

    In so many ways this book broke my heart, but it was also inspirational in a way, and shows the flip side the coin, allowing me to view things from an angle I have rarely considered.

    Southern fiction is a favorite of mine, as is historical fiction, so these factors added the right atmosphere for such an original and beautifully written book.

    As an added bonus, the author added a few of the recipes for the food mentioned in the book, which included some old southern dishes many people have probably never heard of. I make my own Chow Chow, by the way, but the recipe here was much more involved than anything I’ve ever attempted, which I found very interesting.

    This story will stick with me for a long time to come. I recommend it to historical fiction fans, but I think it's a story that will resonate with anyone who appreciates good storytelling.

    4.5 stars

  • Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader

    I read somewhere that The Last Suppers had a foodie fiction angle. Well, not only that, but it was also a special genre hybrid I think fans of women's fiction and historical fiction will also especially enjoy. I was engaged from the start with this well-written story of Ginny, a prison cook, who prepares "last suppers" for inmates on death row at a prison in Louisiana.

    My favorite parts of the book were when Ginny interacted with the inmates and their families, taking

    I read somewhere that The Last Suppers had a foodie fiction angle. Well, not only that, but it was also a special genre hybrid I think fans of women's fiction and historical fiction will also especially enjoy. I was engaged from the start with this well-written story of Ginny, a prison cook, who prepares "last suppers" for inmates on death row at a prison in Louisiana.

    My favorite parts of the book were when Ginny interacted with the inmates and their families, taking special care to get the recipes just right. These are recipes I have not tried before, and may not ever make (e.g., pork neck stew, I'm looking at you!), and somehow they sounded delicious and comforting because of Ginny.

    There was also a special romance between Ginny and the prison warden, Roscoe. Is Roscoe truly the good, sensitive guy he appears to be? The plot left me guessing until the very end on that one.

    The only reason I took away one star from this well-written and engaging book was that I wished it had more of the historical angle that it did in the beginning with the prison in Louisiana, and a little less about the later events that unfolded in the book (don't want to give anything away in my review).

    Overall, this was smoothly written, with characters I cared for, and quite an interesting and original topic. I'm grateful to have spent time getting to know Ginny and the other characters in this book.

    What a fabulous Traveling Sister read this was with Brenda and Diane! For Traveling Sister reviews, check out:

    Thank you to Mandy Mikulencak, Kensington Books, and Netgalley, for the opportunity to review an advanced copy. The Last Suppers will be released on December 26, 2017.

  • Diane S ☔

    3.5 Food for comfort, a particular food that brings back memories, a time when someone cared enough to make something that made us feel better. Food can have many different meanings, and for Ginny it is what she provides as a cook at the penitentiary, what she feels she needs to do by providing last suppers for the men on death row. Raised on the grounds of the prison, her father a guard, a horrifying memory from that time, has haunted Ginny. Now her last suppers will provide a doorway into her

    3.5 Food for comfort, a particular food that brings back memories, a time when someone cared enough to make something that made us feel better. Food can have many different meanings, and for Ginny it is what she provides as a cook at the penitentiary, what she feels she needs to do by providing last suppers for the men on death row. Raised on the grounds of the prison, her father a guard, a horrifying memory from that time, has haunted Ginny. Now her last suppers will provide a doorway into her own past, exposing secrets thought buried. They will also be the cause of the undoing of the man she loves.

    A very different subject for a novel, one filled of food and love, but also so much ugly, a past that wasn't what it seemed. Things never forgotten, and how this was the frame for where Ginny finds herself now. We watch as Ginny handles each new barrier, discovery. How she grows and changes in light of the unveiling of a past that rears its ugly head. We learn some of the stories of the men on death row, not just from what they request for their last meal, but also from journal entries.

    So much of this novel revolves around food, as it does for many of us in our own lives. In the sisters group where we read this, we all stated what we would request as a last supper. Mine was meatloaf and mashed potatoes, my all time comfort food. So many memories attached to food, and so it was for the men in this novel. Recipes are provided at books end.

    A finely written novel, one that is thought provoking. A very different take of a young woman, coming into her own, in light of some terrible occurrences, one I wish didn't have to happen, but couldn't see it going any other way either. A good ending, a very realistic one, I think.

    ARC from Netgalley.

  • Norma

    The Last Suppers by Mandy Mikulencak is a complex, interesting, and a tightly written novel with a lot of depth within the pages of this book.

    We were lost in the deep-rooted, earthy coulee with two of our Traveling Sisters reading The Last Suppers with us and we all really enjoyed this interesting story that brought some food for thought to our discussion.

    Mandy Mikulencak does a good job capturing the emotional memories surrounding the food that left us thinking and discussing our favorites tha

    The Last Suppers by Mandy Mikulencak is a complex, interesting, and a tightly written novel with a lot of depth within the pages of this book.

    We were lost in the deep-rooted, earthy coulee with two of our Traveling Sisters reading The Last Suppers with us and we all really enjoyed this interesting story that brought some food for thought to our discussion.

    Mandy Mikulencak does a good job capturing the emotional memories surrounding the food that left us thinking and discussing our favorites that we would choose for a “last supper”.

    Mandy Mikulencak delivers an extremely moving and engaging story here and does a really good job creating a likeable character here with Ginny that we cared for and who we found to be very interesting.  We loved the compassion that she had with the convicts and her need to see humanity in people and as the story progressed we could see her grow and we loved how we were shown how deep Ginny’s need for redemption was as the story progressed.

    Food becomes its own character within this story and we begin to see the “last suppers” more in an in-depth and complex thought-provoking way as it is tied into Ginny’s desire to find out her own truth and what that means. Along with Roscoe we started to question the reasoning behind Ginny’s desire to give the convicts the perfect “last supper” and we needed to know what that was and why it has haunted her throughout her life.

    To sum it all up it was an extremely interesting, thought-provoking, and well-written novel that had quite the unique premise to it which we all found extremely enjoyable with a satisfying ending that led to a very interesting and enjoyable discussion. Would highly recommend!

    Thank you so much to NetGalley, Kensington Books, and Mandy Mikulencak for the opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book in exchange for a review.

    All of our Traveling Sisters Reviews can be found on our blog:

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