Left broke by her embezzling ex-fiancé, New Yorker Lisbet Torrington is determined to make a fresh, new start in life. On Florida’s Gulf Coast, she settles down in an affluent enclave called Zungville and plots her course for success. Hired to tend bar at a posh restaurant in town, she then enrolls in graduate school, moving ahead with optimism and zeal.
As a bartender at Lew’s Fine Fare On Fifth, Lisbet caters to the town’s most prominent citizens and is privy to how they have fun. But, between the zany regulars, whacky coworkers and loopy brothers who own the place, she soon uncovers twisted relationships hidden behind Zungville’s pristine surface.
Lisbet is challenged to keep her cool when petty dramas stirred up by jealousy, lies and booze abuse threaten to put her head in a spin. Struggling to avoid the web of dysfunction that dominates Lew’s Fine Fare On Fifth, she concentrates on earning her degree—dreaming of the day she’ll be out from behind the bar for good.
Review: I chose to read this e-book not knowing exactly what kind of story this was, except based on the title; a woman’s experiences in a busy city bar. I have family and friends that have worked a majority of their lives in the service industry, especially in bars and pubs, so I was curious to read this novel. As well, while there are many movies referencing the service industry, there aren’t many fiction stories I can think of satirizing this career.
This story is high pace and as I continued to read each chapter, I could feel the urgency and the rush of this bar. While I don’t usually read many books in this style, I really enjoyed it even if it was not a romance because you really got to know the characters especially, Lisbet, Dr. Theo and Shirley. While there were characters that I did not really care for, such as Lew, and Shirley, Susana really showed me in her writing who the characters are based on how they acted and talked, rather than described them so it felt like I was there.
As I continued to read through the pages, I got a front view of the behind- the- scenes of the average bar. And these scenes for any staff are hard work, desensitizing yourself, and putting on a face to appear cheerful for the customers. As well, I felt Lisbet’s frustration and patience as she deals with those who struggled against the job description and trying to make sense of this short term plan as she deals with moving on from her relationship.
If you know the service industry, you know that there are those who take advantage of the excess liquor and spending hours in a place where you are forced to work as a team with those people you do not agree with or like. I enjoyed reading how Lisbet just took each incident and bar nights in stride and deal with it. I enjoyed how she dealt with her coworker schmoozing with the higher ups and walking into a room where she sees each staff acting inappropriate and their secrets. I could feel myself showing respect for her as I don’t think I could do her job.
After reading Chronicles of a Lady Bartender, I wondered if Susana Falcon used to be a bartender or how she knew the behind the scenes of a bar and its staff because based on stories from my friend, it was dead on. If you can see how a service industry job is really difficult and have worked in it, you will really enjoy this book. Even if you don’t, reading this book will make you rethink when tipping.
Favorite Quote: “The service industry- technique I was currently perfecting was that of disgust hidden behind a charming disposition.”