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The Lager Queen of Minnesota: A Novel Hardcover – 23 July 2019
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“The perfect pick-me-up on a hot summer day.”
“[A] charmer of a tale. . . Warm, witty and--like any good craft beer--complex, the saga delivers a subtly feminist and wholly life-affirming message.”
A novel of family, Midwestern values, hard work, fate and the secrets of making a world-class beer, from the bestselling author of Kitchens of the Great Midwest
Two sisters, one farm. A family is split when their father leaves their shared inheritance entirely to Helen, his younger daughter. Despite baking award-winning pies at the local nursing home, her older sister, Edith, struggles to make what most people would call a living. So she can't help wondering what her life would have been like with even a portion of the farm money her sister kept for herself.
With the proceeds from the farm, Helen builds one of the most successful light breweries in the country, and makes their company motto ubiquitous: "Drink lots. It's Blotz." Where Edith has a heart as big as Minnesota, Helen's is as rigid as a steel keg. Yet one day, Helen will find she needs some help herself, and she could find a potential savior close to home. . . if it's not too late.
Meanwhile, Edith's granddaughter, Diana, grows up knowing that the real world requires a tougher constitution than her grandmother possesses. She earns a shot at learning the IPA business from the ground up--will that change their fortunes forever, and perhaps reunite her splintered family?
Here we meet a cast of lovable, funny, quintessentially American characters eager to make their mark in a world that's often stacked against them. In this deeply affecting family saga, resolution can take generations, but when it finally comes, we're surprised, moved, and delighted.
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“This charmer of a tale is a loving ode to the Midwest, the power of persistence and, perhaps above all, beer. . . Warm, witty and--like any good craft beer--complex, the saga delivers a subtly feminist and wholly life-affirming message.”
“This generous spirit makes The Lager Queen of Minnesota a pleasure to read and the perfect pick-me-up on a hot summer day.”
“Delightfully intoxicating. . . will make you smile with its droll humor, and its poignant moments will stop you to reread and confirm that they are really that good. In beer-geek slang, Stradal’s novel is ‘crushable’ — easygoing, well-balanced, super-drinkable with tons of flavor … and will make you go back for more.”
“In Stradal’s follow-up to his best-selling debut, Kitchens of the Great Midwest, the Minnesota native’s energetic prose once again captures the optimism of the heartland.”
“Complex female characters, tragedies, and descriptions. . . will awaken all your senses. . . The book is The Lager Queen of Minnesota, but this release could cement J. Ryan Stradal as the King of Midwestern novels.”
“I read J. Ryan Stradal’s Kitchens of the Great Midwest on a flight. I buckled my seatbelt, opened the book and when I looked up again, the flight attendant was asking if I needed assistance getting off the plane. I didn’t, but now you know the spell this author can cast. He does it again with The Lager Queen of Minnesota.”
—Elisabeth Egan for The New York Times
“The fortunes and foibles of a brewery mirror the relationship between two sisters tussling over a family farm in this quirky, enchanting novel reminiscent of Jane Smiley's A Thousand Acres.”
“Everything about this book satisfies — from how the characters grow to how beer-making is described to Stradal's hilarious assessment of lagers vs. IPAs. You may never drink a beer in ignorance again.”
—The Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Wonderful. . . Stradal’s gift for getting the reader to invest in these lives is particularly profound.”
—The Chicago Tribune
—New York Post
“Stradal's second novel goes down easy. Imbued with Midwestern references and the importance of a 'can-do' attitude, this warm, witty novel willappeal to fans of Curtis Sittenfeld and Meg Wolitzer.”
“This book tastes great, is quite filling and never bitter.”
“Stradal’s writing is sharp and funny while still managing to treat each character with warmth and respect. . . this is an ultimately hopeful and heartwarming story. . . . Readers will love watching these truly original characters overcome their challenges and take care of each other. An absolutely delightful read, perfect for a summer day with a good beer and a piece of pie.”
—Kirkus Reviews (starred)
“Refreshing. . .This story about how a family business succeeds with generations of strong and determined women at the helm makes for a sometimes sad, sometimes funny, but always winning novel.”
“Brilliant. . . a love letter to the Midwest. . . it’s hard to put down not only because the storytelling is so seamless and the characters so relatable, but because the author's delight in the written word is so contagious.”
—Jen Sincero, #1 New York Times bestselling author of You Are a Badass
“Utterly charming. . . Stradal loves and knows his territory, and his affection for the Midwest—with all its stubbornness, stoicism, long memories, readiness to provide aid and quiet pride in excellence--gleams on every page.”
—Janet Fitch, bestselling author of The Revolution of Marina M.
“The Lager Queen of Minnesota is pure reading joy: warm, funny, informative, and full of heart. It is impossible not to root for Stradal's characters, who are so vivid, and relatable that you will miss them every time you set the book down; indeed, if you set it down at all.”
—Jonathan Evison, New York Times bestselling author of Lawn Boy
“Warm, whimsical, incredibly well-written and infused with Stradal’s signature sympathy for his characters--those everyday heroes we all know and love. . . a thorough delight, from beginning to end.”
—Nickolas Butler, internationally bestselling author of Shotgun Lovesongs
“Full of the easy-to-love quaffability of a perfect ale, Stradal’s The Lager Queen of Minnesota will warm your heart. With empathy, love, wisdom and humor on every page, I wish I could go back for more.”
–Jade Chang, author of The Wangs vs. The World
"The Lager Queen of Minnesota is the kind of book you think about all day, while at work, while speaking to someone else, while in line at the market. . . . I loved this book so much. I carried it with me like a talisman, marveling at the unique storytelling of J. Ryan Stradal, who knows his people so well. It's a portrait of America, of place and land and neighborhood, and, of course, a celebration of beer."
—Susan Straight, author of Highwire Moon
"A book to make you laugh and cry and believe the best days of your life are still in front of you."
—Ben Loory, author of Tales of Falling and Flying
About the Author
- Publisher : Pamela Dorman Books (23 July 2019)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 368 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0399563059
- ISBN-13 : 978-0399563058
- Item Weight : 594 g
- Dimensions : 16 x 3.05 x 23.62 cm
- Country of Origin : USA
- Best Sellers Rank: #534,386 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Top review from India
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Rolling the narrative back to 1959 and shifting to Helen’s point of view, Stradal draws a sharp contrast. Helen has just had her first taste of beer at 15, and all she wants is to get out of her small Minnesota hometown and brew beer. While Edith struggles to make a living, despite baking award-winning pies, Helen builds one of the most successful light breweries in the country. Yet one day, Helen will find she needs some help herself, from someone she has known all her life. . . But is it too late?
The story is narrated using flashbacks and multiple points of view. Stradal expertly develops his story in a nonlinear fashion, moving back and forth from 2003, in chapters seen through the eyes of Edith and her granddaughter Diana, with intermingling episodes from Helen’s spectacular rise in the light beer business in the 1970s.
Though revolving around the beer business, At the heart of it, it’s a story of three resilient women – Helen, Edith, and Diana. There is lots of humor to keep things on the lighter side but the book slips in many emotional moments when you are least expecting them. The small-town setting and the historical background of brewing from the 1950s show the commendable amount of research the author has undertaken. The first half was a bit slow but enjoyable. The second half is where the story catches steam. Full marks for the warm satisfying conclusion which made it a strong finish for me. .
Stradal creates some strong and memorable characters. It was easy to get invested in these characters right from the start—From the all sacrificing Edith who always put other’s needs above her own to Helen, a ruthless, somewhat manipulative business tycoon to Diana, a teenager who kept getting into trouble until she was caught and had to work her way out of trouble, all of them expertly crafted. Apart from the characters, the book has many bright moments which will keep you invested in the storyline.
While the story has many resilient women, their storylines never combined together except towards the end. So it felt like reading different parallel stories in isolation, rather than the story of 3 generations. All the information about brewing beers and all the different kinds of beers was just so overwhelming, especially for someone who doesn’t drink at all. So a lot of it I didn’t understand but I found the process interesting nonetheless.
Overall, The Lager Queen of Minnesota is an emotional family drama with some strong and empowering female characters. With a cast of lovable characters, sharp writing, a touch of humor, and a heartwarming finish, this is a delightful read. If you love reading family dramas with strong female characters, this is a must-read book for you.
Top reviews from other countries
This book was fun to read, and hard to put down. The characters are very well developed and you feel their joys and pains as they do. They become real, not just words on a page. My only complaint is that the book ended. I want to know what happens to these characters next.
What a fun, endearing and interesting book that attests to the Midwest ethics. In a nutshell it is a family saga with microbrews and rhubarb pie.
Very entertaining by J. Ryan Stradal. I definitely look forward to more books from Mr. Stradal and will order his previous „Kitchens of the Midwest“ now.