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the Complete Review
the complete review - tv / anthology

Coffee at Luke's

edited by
Jennifer Crusie

general information | review summaries | our review | links

To purchase Coffee at Luke's

Title: Coffee at Luke's
Authors: various
Genre: Anthology
Written: 2007
Length: 196 pages
Availability: Coffee at Luke's - US
Coffee at Luke's - UK
Coffee at Luke's - Canada
Coffee at Luke's - India
Gilmore Girls on DVD: Gilmore Girls - Seasons 1-7 - US
  • An Unauthorized Gilmore Girls Gabfest
  • Fifteen essays, and a section of 'Coffee at Luke's-isms'

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Our Assessment:

B : entertaining variety, modestly insightful

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Publishers Weekly . 28/5/2007 .

  From the Reviews:
  • "This title may not have a long shelf-life, but disenfranchised Gilmore devotees -- likely the most bookish TV fans a bookseller could hope for -- are sure to give it attention." - Publishers Weekly

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Coffee at Luke's collects fifteen essays on the television series Gilmore Girls that ran for seven years (from 2001 to 2007; published at about the same time as the series came to its conclusion, the collection does not take much of the final season or the resolutions of the story-lines into account). The premise of the show was an unusual one (for American television): as Carol Cooper notes in her piece, 'Mama don't Preach': "An unwed mother had never been the narrative pivot of a hit TV show before" -- much less one who was sixteen when she had her child. But, despite this 'edgy' premise, Gilmore Girls was fairly wholesome family fun (where, as Kristen Kidder points out in 'That's what you get, folks, for makin' whoopee' sex -- and especially the loss of virginity -- consistently comes with dire consequences), the idealised mother-daughter relationship (best friends forever, rather than parent-child) apparently of particular appeal.
       Editor Jennifer Crusie suggests in her introduction that: "the real draw that's kept viewers coming back season after season ? Oh, that's the talk." No doubt, the fast-paced back and forth -- and the quality of the repartee -- was a major attraction. Many of the contributors quote dialogue in their pieces, and Chris McCubbin draws the most obvious parallels, to the screwball comedies of the 1930s and 1940s (as well as reimagining the series as a 1952 Howard Hawks film).
       Among the more interesting pieces are those that focus on specific elements of the show: Kristen Kidder on sex, Gregory Stevenson on 'Dining with the Gilmores', and Maryelizabeth Hart on 'Reading, Rory, and Relationships'. As Stevenson notes, "Food almost serves as a character itself on Gilmore Girls". Much revolves around the making or consuming of food -- with one of the most unrealistic aspects of the show being the Gilmore girls' notoriously voracious appetites -- and Stevenson does a fine job of considering its role in the show. Maryelizabeth Hart then takes a season-by-season approach to the role of books and reading -- noting also that, despite being such a bookish and hyper-literate show not everyone is a bookworm (notably Lorelai, Luke, and Rory's first love, Dean).
       Several contributors note that the show's main locale is also a very ... creative element; as Chris McCubbin puts it: "Stars Hollow is certainly the most unrealistic element of Gilmore Girls". Among the more inventive approaches to the show here is Sara Morrison's 'Your Guide to the Real Stars Hollow Business World', in which she rates the chances for survival for Stars Hollow's various enterprises if they were set in the real world, from Al's Pancake World to the Town Troubadour (whom she doesn't see fairing well). The piece doesn't quite live up to its potential (by not choosing between either taking the premise completely seriously or, in the alternative, just having fun with it), but it's a clever idea. Meanwhile, in 'Happiness under Glass' Jill Winters observes what is both part of the appeal of the place and part of its problem: "Stars Hollow does not seem to be a place where one can evolve".
       Also entertaining: Heather Swain's 'Whimsy goes with Everything', in which she makes the case for ... Kirk (noting also that his particular (and wide-ranging) quirkiness makes the other quirky characters seem almost normal).
       There's a good deal about the unusual relationships: the mother-daughter relationships (Lorelai and Rory's, in particular, but also of course Lorelai's difficult relationship with her own mother), as well as the father-figures in Rory's life (Miellyn Fitzwater's 'My Three Dads', a not entirely successful toting up of influences) or the peculiar friendship between Paris and Rory (Stephanie Whiteside's 'When Paris met Rory'). Several contributors note the inadequacy of the men in the Gilmore girls' lives: neither Lorelai nor Rory manage to find a relationship with a man worthy of them, with the two that are closest to being soul-mates -- Luke and Jess -- both coming with extraordinary amounts of baggage and drawbacks.
       Interesting also are the observations about how much of a class-conflict drama Gilmore Girls was -- and in one piece Charlotte Fullerton even daringly goes 'In Defense of Emily Gilmore' (okay, it's not entirely so daring -- but actually does make a good case for her seminal role, especially in Lorelai's life, concluding with the suggestion that: "I've long thought the most powerful way, dramatically speaking, for this series to end would be with Emily's death").

       Coffee at Luke's covers a lot of Gilmore Girls territory. The quotes and references, reminders of favourite scenes and exchanges, and how some of the subjects are tied together is probably enough to satisfy fans of the show, but, though far from comprehensive (so much more remains to be said ...), there are also quite a few insightful contributions and observations that make this more than just a scrapbook of Gilmore Girls-trivia. A collection such as this does allow readers (former viewers) to consider the larger picture, and even if there isn't that much here that wasn't fairly obvious before, it's packaged and presented well, in generally solid little essays that do offer good overviews of the many different aspects of the show. Not everyone's personal reflections (yet another take on the New England idyll ...) are equally interesting, but on the whole it is a worthwhile collection for anyone with more than just a passing interest in the show.

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Coffee at Luke's: Reviews: Gilmore Girls: Other books of interest under review:

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© 2007-2021 the complete review

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