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...

DownloadRead Online
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

  • Jean

    by Mandy Mikulencak has been compared to

    and

    ; I believe that this book can stand on its own. Set in Louisiana in the late 1950s with looks back several decades earlier, Ms Mikulencak’s story of Ginny Polk is one that is likely to stay with me for quite a while.

    Ginny, a petite twenty-nine-year-old cook at Greenmount State Penitentiary, is stronger than she looks. She’s sassy, resourceful, and resilient. When she was eight, her daddy Joe Polk, who was a g

    by Mandy Mikulencak has been compared to

    and

    ; I believe that this book can stand on its own. Set in Louisiana in the late 1950s with looks back several decades earlier, Ms Mikulencak’s story of Ginny Polk is one that is likely to stay with me for quite a while.

    Ginny, a petite twenty-nine-year-old cook at Greenmount State Penitentiary, is stronger than she looks. She’s sassy, resourceful, and resilient. When she was eight, her daddy Joe Polk, who was a guard at the same prison, was murdered. Now she works as a cook in the kitchen. She also prepares the last meal for men condemned to the electric chair. It’s something she volunteered to do, something she feels compelled to do. When asked why, she cannot explain it, except that despite their terrible crimes, she feels that she is recognizing their humanity in a way that most others cannot. Will not.

    This, mind you, is in the Deep South in a time when racism is still accepted. Expected. It took me a while to realize that Ginny herself is white. That made quite an impact on me. Not all of the prisoners are black, of course, but the man who was executed for killing her father was, and we get the impression that Ginny has unresolved questions and issues about her father and the way he died. The execution of the man who was convicted as his killer is engraved in her memory forever. That disturbs her more than anything, I think. As the book goes on, more of Ginny’s feelings are revealed.

    Ginny also has a “special relationship” with the warden, Roscoe Simms. Roscoe is much older than Ginny; in fact, he worked as a guard with Ginny’s father when Ginny was only eight. The warden’s job is challenging and thankless – damned if you do, and damned if you don’t. He’s caught between the Board, the guards, and the prisoners. When he took over, he promised reforms, but not everyone welcomes change. Roscoe is not one of those “what-you-see-is-what-you-get” type of men. There is more, much more that lies beneath the surface of Roscoe Simms. Even Ginny doesn’t know it all, and Roscoe doesn’t want her to.

    There’s Dot, a large black woman who is Ginny’s friend and confidant. Despite the fact that Ginny is her boss, Dot is more like a mama to her, and she doesn’t hesitate to give her a piece of her mind. She’s much more of a mother to Ginny than Miriam, Ginny’s real mother. The relationships in this book are rich and spirited. No, they’re not perfect, but relationships never are. Over time, throughout the course of this book, secrets are revealed that change the face of these relationships.

    Besides Roscoe and Dot, Ginny’s lifeline is cooking. When supplies are short, she can make do, substitute, and stretch the meager supplies to make a palatable meal for the prisoners. When it comes time to prepare a last supper, she is escorted to the Waiting Room, where she speaks with the prisoner about his wishes. She even goes the extra mile to talk to relatives to get a special family recipe and test it in advance to ensure a successful dish. My thoughts as I read this was that it truly seemed like a calling and a ministry.

    There are difficult themes throughout this book. Racism is one of them. The death penalty is obviously another. One cannot read The Last Suppers and feel that these challenges are in the past. We’ve moved into the 21st century, and we know that those struggles are still with us today.

    Despite her boldness and her assumptions that sometimes get her into trouble, Ginny Polk is a champion. She follows her conscience and her heart. Does she make mistakes? Yes, and she has terrible regrets, to be sure. Through all of her trials, she learns and grows. Her cooking is a creative outlet that binds her to her loved ones and to strangers, especially to those who are the most reviled in our society.

    Mandy Mikulencak gave me much food for thought, and I felt uplifted by Ginny Polk. I hope others will too.

    5 stars

  • Jennifer Blankfein

    Follow my reviews on

    .

    The Last Suppers is a captivating novel set in a Louisiana penitentiary where Ginny, young daughter of a murdered prison guard, is now all grown up and cooking for the inmates at the jail. She meets with the prisoners on death row to find out what they want for their last meal and does her best to create the requested dishes. The drama began two decades prior, when her father was killed and his supposed murderer was put to death while sh

    Follow my reviews on

    .

    The Last Suppers is a captivating novel set in a Louisiana penitentiary where Ginny, young daughter of a murdered prison guard, is now all grown up and cooking for the inmates at the jail. She meets with the prisoners on death row to find out what they want for their last meal and does her best to create the requested dishes. The drama began two decades prior, when her father was killed and his supposed murderer was put to death while she and her mother were present. Her dad’s best friend, Roscoe promised to take care of Ginny and her mother, and now, Ginny and Roscoe, currently the jail warden, work together and are a couple, intimately involved. Despite the age difference, their comfortable routine has been beneficial to both of them over the years but things change when Ginny learns more about the man who paid the price for her father’s murder.

    Author Mandy Mikulencak had me hooked from the beginning. Ginny is kind and compassionate and a little naive, yet she is strong and willful as she searches for the truth about her father and Roscoe, and passionate and fair when she connects with the prisoners, putting aside their crimes to learn what they want to eat. This story brings to light the food – emotion connection, and how last supper requests are often tied to prisoner’s comforting memories and not about hunger and eating. We see Ginny’s love and respect through her cooking and full recipes of some of the meals are included at the end. This book takes place in the 1950s and with rich characters and a gripping story, The Last Suppers highlights inequality and racism, the rights and treatment of inmates, love, loss, sacrifice and acceptance. I enjoyed this work of fiction and highly recommend it.

  • Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader & Traveling Sister

    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.

  • Brenda - Traveling Sister

    Traveling Sister Review can be found

  • 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 * Traveling Sister

    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.

    Review written and posted on our themed book blog - Two Sisters Lost In a Coulee Reading.

    Coulee: a term applied rather loosely to different landforms, all of which refer to a kind of valley.

  • Amalia Gavea

    I think that most of us are attracted to controversial themes. After all, what is reading if not an opportunity to take a deeper look into issues that have shaped the world we live in? The issue of death penalty is one of the most discussed and divisive with strong opinions both in favour of and against this practice. I won’t bore you with my views on the matter, nor is it anyone’s business after all. However, this was the main reason

    attracted my attention. The setting of New O

    I think that most of us are attracted to controversial themes. After all, what is reading if not an opportunity to take a deeper look into issues that have shaped the world we live in? The issue of death penalty is one of the most discussed and divisive with strong opinions both in favour of and against this practice. I won’t bore you with my views on the matter, nor is it anyone’s business after all. However, this was the main reason

    attracted my attention. The setting of New Orleans and the premise of the last supper before the execution of the convicted were factors that increased my curiosity. As it is,

    was a rather interesting story with much potential but the writing and the overdone melodrama didn’t meet my personal standards and prevented me from connecting to the plot and to the characters.

    The story takes place in New Orleans, primarily during the 50s although we are momentarily transferred to the 30s and the 40s to witness events that are strongly connected to the present narrative. Everything is seen through the eyes of Ginny, a young woman with a troubled past and a no less complicated present. Her work is one that few would envy. She is a cook in Greenmount State Penitentiary. Ginny has decided on a peculiar life mission. She prepares the last meals of those who are about to meet the justified or unjustified end. She wants to give them one last sweet memory by reminding them of beloved recipes, of happier moments at home with their families. Whether they deserve it or not is a continuous point of discussion throughout the novel. Continuous to the point of repetition but more on that later. The death of her father has been haunting her for most of her life and her relationship with his best friends doesn’t make things easier.

    So what did I like in this novel? First of all, the depiction of the era and the unique atmosphere of New Orleans are remarkable. The sultry days and nights, the harsh daily life are vivid and I was transported there from the get-go. Seen as a Historical Novel, the writer did a marvelous job there. The themes she tackles are varied, difficult and very demanding. The loss of a parent at a young age, the emotional distance between a mother and a daughter, the complicated relationship with an older man are themes related to the personal life of the characters. And then, we have the important social background of the era. The discrimination between residents of the same city, the nightmare of the Ku Klux Klan, the social narrow-mindedness regarding women, the complicated issue of the death penalty and the convicted men’s former life provide plenty of material for an emotional and interesting discussion.

    In my opinion, the problem is that the writing isn’t intense enough to communicate everything properly. I don’t know what this novel aspired to be. A Historical Fiction novel? A social critique against discriminations of any kind? A romance? All these together? Make of it what you will but there were times when I thought I was reading a sappy, melodramatic romance, full of hystericals and unrealistic, stale interactions. I’m not sure whether I am making any sense but in my opinion, the dialogue between the characters was sub-par as if it had sprung out of a low-quality movie. And the sad thing is that in those moments, the writing should have been rich in gravity and tension. The same complaint applies to the characters. Everyone -with the possible exception of Dot- seemed either naive or neurotic. Unengaging, blunt, frightfully unoriginal. Even Dot seemed a character that have seen in most examples of Southern Literature. Although Ginny started out quite well, she quickly became someone who couldn’t see the obvious implications of her questionable actions. Too much hysterics, sorry...This kind of literature isn’t for me. And I had seen the conclusion coming before I reached the halfway mark of the novel so no surprises there…

    The most ‘’correct’’ personal rating for this novel would have been 2 stars. However, I am fully aware that my tastes and standards are quite weird. When I occupy my time with dark, difficult themes, I expect the writing to reflect the situations, well, ‘’darkly’’. I want realism, not a romantic ‘’will she, won’t she’’. In addition, I know that anything approaching sappy romance is a lost cause with me so I’d hate to be unjust because of my cold heart. There are many beloved GR friends who loved

    . It just wasn't my cup of tea. In my eyes, it was a wasted opportunity.

    Many thanks to Kensington Books and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange of an honest review.

    My reviews can also be found on

Best Free Books is in no way intended to support illegal activity. Use it at your risk. We uses Search API to find books/manuals but doesn´t host any files. All document files are the property of their respective owners. Please respect the publisher and the author for their copyrighted creations. If you find documents that should not be here please report them


©2018 Best Free Books - All rights reserved.