Superior Reads


J Ryan Stradal dishes up another heartwarming hit with SATURDAY NIGHT AT THE LAKESIDE SUPPER CLUB – a story of love, loss, and the blessing or curse of a family legacy.

Set in 1996 in Bear Jaw, Minnesota, Mariel and her husband Ned fall in love and marry. He is the family heir to a chain of diners called Jorby’s, and she has inherited her grandparents’ old-fashioned supper club. The Lakeside Supper Club is bleeding money and when Ned’s father decides to build a Jorby’s down the street, it might well be the nail in the coffin of both the restaurant and family harmony.

You  might think Stradal has a background in family counseling, the ease with which he peels back the layers of conflict in this tale. We learn the backstory of Florence, Mariel’s mother, who has suddenly returned to town after years of estrangement between mother and daughter. Florence has holed up at the local church and refuses to leave until Mariel picks her up. As both women dig in their heels, townspeople take sides – team Florence serves up hot dishes to console her, while team Mariel keeps plugging away serving up grandmother Betty’s famous lemonade brandy old fashioned alongside the prime rib specials to keep the restaurant afloat.

Stradal is at the height of his powers when he writes about the fragile bonds of family  — the expectations we place on one another, our resiliency after loss, and the Midwestern work ethic (stubbornness, possibly?) that makes it nearly impossible to walk away from a personal or professional challenge. Through heartbreaking losses, financial challenges, and generational conflicts, Mariel and Ned create their own family legacy.

SATURDAY NIGHT AT THE LAKESIDE SUPPER CLUB will feel like home to Midwesterners – grab a stool at the bar and settle in for a warm and witty read.

This is Lin Salisbury with Superior Reviews. I recommend SATURDAY  NIGHT AT THE LAKESIDE SUPPER CLUB for fans of Lorna Landvik and Sarah Stonich. Listen to my interview with J Ryan on Superior Reads on April 27 at 7:00 pm on WTIP Radio, Grand Marais, 90.7 or stream it from the web at

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