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Turning Tables

3.18  ·  Rating Details ·  690 Ratings  ·  122 Reviews
Erin Edwards is an up-and-coming marketing exec who frequents New York’s hippest eateries—until the tables are turned. Now, newly unemployed, Erin only has days to transform herself into a first-class server at one of Manhattan’s top restaurants. Can she make it in a world where survival is all about…

Life behind the apron is even worse than Erin imagined—within days she f
Paperback, 336 pages
Published March 24th 2009 by Bantam Discovery (first published January 1st 2008)
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Turning Tables is one of those books that I've had on my bookshelf for literally 5 years. It's one that I randomly found at the thrift store, saw it was about working in a restaurant, bought it and never picked it up again until a few days ago. I'm glad that I actually gave this book a chance because it was quite enjoyable. I've been working in the restaurant industry as a server for 8 years now and I can tell you that this book is spot on with it's accuracy of what it's like working at one. It' ...more
Becky Benishek
Feb 14, 2017 Becky Benishek rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What an enjoyable read this was! Perfect balance of whimsy, characterization, and setting. The fact that this book is based on more than a touch of actual waitstaff experiences by the MacDowell sisters gives it that final touch of delightful realism.
An amusing and entertaining novel, however the relationships fell a little flat on me. I found there was no connection between Erin and Phil, Erin and Daniel... there was no basis, no believability, just another subplot or two to spice up the story. The best friend was more of a filler than anything else - just a character brought in to get the ball rolling again, and then forgotten for another 200 pages. Not so best-friendly after all.

That aside, I loved the restaurant characters. They were fl
Marissa Hughes
Jun 09, 2009 Marissa Hughes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fun quick read for anyone who has worked in the service industry. Specially those who have worked for overzealous Italian restaurateurs. I have worked for a male version of Gina's character and her portrayal was pretty spot on. Having spent the last 6 years of my life waiting tables in small upscale restaurants the characters are easy to relate to.

If you are looking for a quick read with insight to the life of a food server this book did a pretty good job of capturing it.
Jun 05, 2011 Marc rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm of two minds when it comes to Turning Tables. As a book about restaurants, it's very good. As a chick-lit book, it's all right.

I used to work at a place that had a restaurant as a part of it. I had to deal with my co-workers and people over there many times and go in the kitchen so I know how it is. While I never worked in the restaurant, I knew some of the things that took place there. That's all captured perfectly. If you want to know what's it like to work in a restaurant, read this book.
Apr 11, 2009 Gail rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: modern-fiction
It's a familiar story: Erin Edwards is "downsized" from her marketing firm and without a job for months. A friend of the family puts in a good word for her at Roulette, a very upscale Manhattan eatery. Brazening through a concocted resume, she shows up to part of the wait-staff. Part slavery, part humiliation, part intuitive sales counselor, she is both adopted and reviled by the various chefs, waiters, bar tenders, and regular customers. The tips are exceptionally good and she continues to lear ...more
Feb 06, 2016 Lisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Between 2.5 and 3 stars, so I'll round up on this one.

Who hasn't worked in the food service industry? I mean, even if you did it for a week and quit or something, which means you get how draining it is so much so that you couldn't do it. I did it for years, and the Macdowells have it spot-on, at least for some restaurants. Cut-throat to the point where you think: Hello, isn't it just food?; ridiculous hours for who knows how much money. Every shift is an adventure, and they've captured that here
Jun 13, 2008 Sarah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008-reads
During my ill-fated but lucrative time at Gratzi (during which I wore exactly the uniform depicted on the cover, by the by), I had many of the experiences depicted in this book, including strangely difficult and complicated sidework, a preposterous chef and yet more preposterous manager, and a weird symbiotic relationship with a gay uberwaiter who was constantly baffled by my ineptitude but nonetheless extremely gossipy and supportive. However, I didn't ever have sex with a hot prep cook in the ...more
Jul 16, 2008 Martha rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: chick-lit
Okay so I read 2 books about waiting tables back to back. This one really struck close to home because I have been an over-educated waiter and bartender. I also have worked for people who think they can treat you badly, talk to you like you are stupid and still expect you to work hard for THEIR business. It's amazing. Anyway, this book was very smart, very funny and very true to form as to what the restaurant business is like. Yes, you get addicted to the money and no, there is nothing glamorous ...more
Jun 29, 2010 Melissa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Maybe you've read this one before...

Could have been called Devil Eats Prada or Waitress Diaries or Waitress in the Fast Lane or Twin Entrees of Manhattan.

Story is annoyingly familiar. Young gal about town is sidetracked from a fabulous career in Gotham, takes job of lesser esteem for sake of paying bills. Unbeknownst to her, she has just sold her soul to devil in disguise. Gal scrambles for her dignity as she attempts in vain to please people around her. Finds temptation on side, has not-so-di
Mar 25, 2008 Kay rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I don't know what made me keep reading this book to the end. Never having been a waitress, I had no experience that would allow me to compare my working life with Erin's. But if waiting tables is anything like waitressing at the Roulette, I'm glad I never worked in a restaurant. Except for a very few, the staff were unfriendly, mean-spirited, unhelpful,just plain miserable -- even more so than some of the ungrateful, surly clientele. Maybe I continued to read in the hope that Erin would wise up ...more
Jan 25, 2010 Elizabeth rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: chick-lit
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I saw a review that one of my friends on Goodreads wrote about this book and it caught my interest as something I might enjoy reading. As soon as I started reading it, it sounded vaguely familiar to me, and it turns out I read it before, about 5+ years ago. I didn't remember much of the storyline, but character names seemed familiar, especially Erin's dog Rocket, and gradually I pieced it together as more than just a coincidence. I ended up reading the whole book again, as I didn't remember much ...more
Jun 15, 2009 Laura rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book. It was kind of like The Devil Wears Prada except the focus was on fine restaurants rather than the clothing industry. The premise is that Erin has been laid off from her marketing job and takes a position in a fine dining establishment (temporarily) to offset her bills. She has no previous experience and ends up catering to the bosses from hell. Meanwhile, her personal life is a crazy mess. It was a quick fun read. I found it to be good medicine after reading a heavy hitting d ...more
May 20, 2008 Juliann rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It's kind of fun, so far. . . Similar in feel to The Nanny Diaries and The Devil Wears Prada (language more like Nanny Diaries, btw.) but this is an insider's view of a big wig New York restaurant and its owners and clientèle. Of course, being a New York-o-phile, I'm eating it up. . .

Ok, update. I've finished it and it was just kind of fun. I enjoyed hearing the inside scoop on waiting at a bigtime restaurant and I think I'll be more sympathetic to all wait staff in the future, BUT it wasn't gre
May 16, 2011 Colin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: junk-food-lit
Meh. I got this as an Advance Reader Copy back in 2008, but didn't get around to reading it until now (I read it in a day and a half). It's a bit of fluff reading - a semi-fictional account of what it's like waiting tables at an upscale Manhattan restaurant. It gives a pretty vivid account of the life - what it's like to work in the restaurant biz (and really, whether 5-star or neighborhood pizzeria, there are commonalities to the experience), but not great literature by any means.
Of interest
Feb 26, 2009 Sam rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow...who knew life in the restaurant business could be filled with so much drama. All but a few of the waiters were mean-spirited. The chef was demeaning and always yelling. The owners were controlling and only cared about themselves and how they were perceived in the high class restaurant business. Even though, I really enjoyed the book. I've never had any experience as a waitress (after reading this book, I'm glad I haven't) but the author pulled me in and I had a hard time putting the book d ...more
Written by sisters who have been wait staff at really high end restaurants. As a novel it is just ok, I thought the dog storyline was a bit of an afterthought woven in for a long time just to eventually have two people meet up again, and the dating across social lines part of the plot was a bit labored. But knowing it is based on real things that happened at their jobs, it is a neat glimpse at the behind the scenes in the service industry, and a bit of a testimonial about what skills and insight ...more
Margherita Dolcevita
Tutto sommato non è male, inizia un po' lentamente e la virata "sentimentale" avviene un po' troppo frettolosamente, ma è divertente, romantico e piacevole. Alcuni personaggi sono un po' troppo stereotipati e quindi un po' piatti. Viene da chiedersi da dove abbiano tirato fuori il titolo "Omelette" i traduttori italiani, visto che non si parla di frittate, non si parla di cucina francese, il titolo originale è completamente diverso e che il ristorante semmai si chiama "Roulette", mistero della f ...more
Nov 28, 2008 Alissa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fun piece of chick-lit which takes you behind the scenes of waiting tables at an exclusive restaurant.

After Erin is downsized from her job as marketing exec, she can’t find something else so out of desperation (and through family connections) she gets a job as a server at one of Manhatten’s top new restaurants. So there’s plenty of fun as Erin tries to prove herself as a server and finds a little love along the way (will it be in the kitchen with the cute sous chef or out on the floor with a h
Jul 21, 2008 Lee rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
What made this "happily ever after" story stand out from others is the storyline itself. Much as "The Devil Wears Prada" and "The Nanny Diaries" provided an inside look into the worlds of magazine publishing and NYC nanny-ing, this offers a glimpse of the waiter-ing world to those of us who haven't ever done it...and though I'm sure there's a bit of stereotyping and dramatic license included, the restaurant world makes an interesting backdrop for the main character and her romantic exploits. Lik ...more
May 02, 2016 Diana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: foodie-chicklit
Read it in one sitting! Love it!
It's a foodie-chicklit. About behind the scenes in a restaurant and waiting tables. I learned a lot more about service & restaurants from the book. I love the author's style of writing, I love how she weaved all the problems together into one. I hate how the chef and restaurant owners are too evil (makes it a bit unrealistic) but then maybe in real life there are people who are like that.
I want to read more books like this!!
Mar 28, 2008 Jessica rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: chick lit fans
Turning Tables is your typical chick-lit book about a former marketing exec who ends up waiting tables when she can't find another marketing job. Erin sucks at first and then actually begins to get the hang of things, while also meeting the guy of her dreams. She learns a lot about waiting tables, but even more about herself and life. Eventually she uses everything she's learned to nail the perfect job. Fun, light-hearted and a quick "feel-good" read.
I enjoyed this very quick read in just a few days while on vacation - I found this book somehow through one of my goodread recommendations and was pleasantly surprised. As many other reviewers noted, it's very similar to the Devil Wears Prada - but just in the restaurant industry. If you enjoyed that book, and like anything food industry related (which I do, of both!), then you'll likely enjoy this lighthearted book. Perfect for summer.
Oct 02, 2011 Rhonda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Having friends and a spouse who works in the food industry, I found "Turning Tables" entertaining and at least partially true.

When she complained of being run all over the restaurant and no tips, I have heard my friends complain of the same thing so there were quite a few grains of truth in this book.

The book had me laughing outloud quite a few times and feeling sorry for the lead character at other times.

Well worth the read.
Jun 26, 2011 Beckie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
i received this book for free from bookpage like two years ago and i just got around to reading it. it is an 'advance reading copy' and went on sale 03/25/08. it is by heather & rose macdowell. it was a very quick read, yet engaging. it was like the devil wears prada but in the restaurant business. anyone who has eaten out at a sit-down restaurant, whether casual or fancy, will be able to identify with this book.
Mar 24, 2016 Ilse rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
Het is de 2de keer dat ik dit boek lees, dat wil dus meteen zeggen dat het boek zeker niet slecht is ;)

Er zit voor mij weinig in wat herkenbaar is, maar dat hoeft ook niet altijd.

het is vlot geschreven, leuk uitgewerkt en soms best wel grappig. Op andere momenten zou je het hoofdpersonage een flinke schop onder haar kont willen geven :)

Leuk boek voor tussendoor, ik doe het nog steeds niet weg, dus wie weet lees ik het ooit nog een 3de keer
I have had this book for awhile and picked up this month since it fit into one of my group challenges. I was happily surprised at what a fun read it was. Looking into the world of elite restaurants and testy chefs was a nice change from my usual. The romance could have been a little deeper and the ending a little less flat. I enjoyed it and would read another by these twin sisters.
Jul 09, 2009 Jennie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: chic-lit, fiction
This book was really a fun read. The main character is a marketing executive who loses her job and goes to work in one of the top restaurants in NY city, as a waitress. It's all about how she adjusts to the new lifestyle and there is romance thrown in too. For someone who has never worked in food service it was a great behind-the-scenes look. A fun beach read!
Amy Gable
Mar 27, 2016 Amy Gable rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a perfect beach read. Nothing complicated, but a great story with characters that cause you to want to ignore the world while you finish the book. In fact, I actually was standing in a crowded gym during a tournament reading this book. No worries, the team I was watching was waiting for their next game. If you are looking for a good story, this is it.
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