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  • Writer's pictureGaili Schoen

Saturday Night at the Lakeside Supper Club

Saturday Night at the Lakeside Supper Club by J. Ryan Stradal, released April 2023

I was excited to read Saturday Night at the Lakeside Supper Club because I enjoyed author J. Ryan Stradal's book The Lager Queen of Minnesota so much. Stradal's books are quirky slices of life that take place in the midwest and focus on families and their food and drink businesses. I love listening to his audiobooks because the midwestern accents and attitudes put the reader smack dab in the middle of Minnesota.

Saturday Night at the Lakeside Supper Club is about 4 generations of women who own or run the Lakeside with varying measures of enthusiasm. The book opens with Betty and her daughter Florence who are homeless and hitchhiking, and happen upon Floyd, the owner of the Lakeside in the north woods of Minnesota. They befriend him, and he takes them with him to work at the club.

"The Lakeside...was decorated like a fancy hunting lodge, with white tablecloths, ornate stemmed glasses, and heavy, gleaming silverware. Its bar glistened with more colorful liquor bottles than Florence had ever seen, and its menu featured food she'd never eaten before like grilled walleye and steak."

After she gets Floyd to marry her, Betty is in her element running the bar at the Lakeside, but her daughter Florence dreads inheriting it:

"She'd heard enough regrets in her lifetime to know that dreams don't always die because of something terrible, but more often because of something that's merely acceptable.”

Florence has had to lie cheat and steal in order to survive her childhood, and when she meets and marries happy-go-lucky Gustav, she has few qualms about manipulating him and their daughter Mariel:

"People like Gustav end up with people like Florence, and children are born with their hearts already broken, for the mother they needed and will never have."

Mariel inherits the Lakeside ruining her mother's long-standing plans to sell it, and Florence never forgives her for it. Mariel finds happiness with Ned, the heir to the Jorby's fast food chain, but they struggle in their attempts to conceive a child.

Saturday Night at the Lakeside Supper Club is filled with fun, audacious characters, and a strong mix of happy and heartbreaking events. Stradal draws you into his world with grace and sensitivity, and you never want to leave.

Hardcover 352 pages, Audiobook (recommended!) 9 hours, 20 minutes


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