Reviewer: Delia Stanley (Foreword Reviews)
In Anthony Bidulka’s novel Going to Beautiful, a widowed celebrity chef travels to a small town, where he encounters
both dark secrets and uplifting surprises.
Jake’s perfect life, built from his passion for cooking and several successful restaurants, is shattered by the
mysterious death of his husband, Eddie. Struggling with depression and searching for closure, Jake travels to
Beautiful, in Saskatchewan, tracking Eddie’s past. His close friend Baz comes along for support.
Though Eddie dies early in the novel, his relationship with Jake is conveyed well, through memories and mournful
descriptions that lend context to Jake’s decisions—especially as he gets involved with Beautiful’s strange, serious
Baz, a self-assured transwoman with the money to live extravagantly, is a charming addition. Her flirty, dry humor is
similar to Jake’s, but tempered with deep compassion. Their exchanges are insightful, and both wonder how their
sexual identities will be received in Beautiful. Their friendship, and a slow-burning romance between Baz and a
friendly farmer, results in excitement.
Beautiful’s Ukrainian community raises awareness about Canadian immigration waves, even as their community
enriches the novel. Ukrainian food plays a role in Jake’s healing, revitalizing his passion for cooking (and living); how
the townspeople worry about their community dying out parallels his own grief.
Unforeseen twists in the story meld with its intriguing relationship dynamics. Though there’s suspense here, it
balances with the book’s elements of comedy—and its heartfelt sentiments. Jake’s mission comes full circle: he finds
himself in the process of his time with Beautiful, along with the answers to the questions that brought him there in the
Focused on love and acceptance, Going to Beautiful is a captivating, sensitive novel about grief, joy, and finding one’s
You can see original review at Foreword Magazine