A Review: The Essence of Nathan Biddle for TLC Book Tours. A Cocktail: The Hemingway Daiquiri for Summer Sipping

Today I’m finally reviewing The Essence of Nathan Biddle by J. William Lewis.   Thanks to Lisa of TLC Book Tours for letting me reschedule my post from June 1 to June 22.   I appreciate it!

About the Book:

A subtly wicked, almost Southern Gothic tale of existential angst told by 18-year-old Kit Biddle, an anti-Gumpian southern boy struggling with the complexities of life. The story unfolds against a backdrop of painful chaos: Kit’s revered uncle, Nathaniel Tyler Biddle, Jr., has sacrificed his only son on direct and specific orders, according to Rev. Biddle, from God himself. As Kierkegaard has suggested, the comic and the tragic converge on Kit’s desperate search for meaning in a willy-nilly world of opaque walls and filtered light.

The enigmatic Anna appears with all the attributes of Kit’s yearning and imagination and then, just like that, she disappears like a phantom in a fog, only to be replaced by the enigmatic Sarah who reverses the roles and projects onto Kit all her desires and imaginings. Standing on one leg in the darkness, Death beckons to Kit with a promise of light and comfort but instead leaves him lying in his own blood on hot pavement with neither clarity nor relief. Who is Kit Biddle? He may actually be Nathan Biddle but who in the world is that?

When the fog dissipates—if the clarity he seeks finally appears—does Kit really want the answers he finds?

Purchase Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

About the Author:

Alabama native J. William Lewis is a former lawyer who lives in Shoal Creek, a suburb of Birmingham, Alabama. Born in Chickasaw, Alabama, Lewis grew up in Mobile. He graduated from Spring Hill College (A.B., magna cum laude, English and Philosophy) where he was a member of Alpha Sigma Nu and recipient of the Merihl Award. While in college, Lewis served as editor-in-chief of the literary magazine The Motley. Lewis received his J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law and served on the Editorial Board of the Virginia Law Review.

After a clerkship for the Honorable Walter P. Gewin on the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, Lewis practiced law in Birmingham for over three and a half decades.

Presently, Lewis serves as executive officer of his family’s investment company, Seaman Capital, LLC, and related companies.

He has been married to Lorraine Seaman Lewis for more than half a century.

The Essence of Nathan Biddle is his debut novel.

What I thought…

I have to admit, while I was looking forward to reading this book from the description above, once I dove in, I struggled a bit.   I like to think of myself as an astute reader, but the existential mumbo-jumbo and pseudo-intellectualism of the teenage characters, annoyed me.  Part I was a slog-fest.  But during Parts II, III, and IV, I found a groove.  I did want to find out the “essence” of Kit Biddle, our narrator.   I wanted to know, just like his psychiatrist, what caused his obsession with who he was and how he had gotten to this place.

There were a few characters (like Uncle Newt) that I would have liked to have seen developed.   The author presented Newt in the first part of the book and then we never saw him again; we only heard about him from Kit.

Ultimately, I’m rating this book a 3+ (out of five stars).  Maybe the structure was off a bit, but I did finally finish the novel and I guess I will say it intrigued me.  I’m anxious to see what others thought.   Please check out their posts and reviews as well at the end of this post.

The food:

There was little to no food mentioned in the novel.  I did see some daiquiris (that a young Kit is introduced to with a pseudo-Mrs. Robinson vibe), pickled eggs, some Coca-Colas, a PBJ, scrambled eggs, and a burnt-down BBQ joint.   Not a lot to choose from and I almost skipped  the food tie-in for this review.

Then, I went back to the daiquiris.   I found a recipe for The Hemingway Daiquiri here.  I didn’t double the rum like Hemingway did for his cocktail order, but I was intrigued by the addition of grapefruit juice.

Hemingway Daiquiri

From Liquor.com

The history (or essence) of this cocktail is interesting. Read about it here.


  • 1 oz. white rum (or 2 oz. if you need it)
  • 1/2 oz. Amaretto (The original recipe calls for maraschino liqueur.  I had none.)
  • 3/4 oz. fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. grapefruit juice
  • lime peel or lime wheel to garnish


  1. Add all ingredients into a shaker with ice and shake until well-chilled.
  2. Strain into a coupe glass.
  3. Garnish with a lime wheel.
  4. Sip.

Yield: 1

As Kit ponders his future at the end of the novel and tries to find his own essence, he might need to read some Hemingway to discover a stoic nature (and when he reaches the legal drinking age, have a cocktail).   I might say that if Kit had been drinking these delicious cocktails, it’s no wander he downed so many.  These are my new favorites and are delicious and refreshing for summer sipping.

Again, please check out the reviews from the other tours.

Instagram features:

Monday, May 10th: @bookswritingandmore

Tuesday, May 11th: @stacy40pages

Wednesday, May 12th: @hotcocoareads

Thursday, May 13th: @andrea.c.lowry.reads

Friday, May 15th: @tbretc

Saturday, May 15th: @readwithmason

Sunday, May 16th: @the.caffeinated.reader

Monday, May 17th: @wherethereadergrows

Wednesday, May 19th: @bookshelfmomma

Thursday, May 20th: @bookpairings

Friday, May 21st: @happiestwhenreading

Saturday, May 22nd: @lifeinlit

Sunday, May 23rd: @thebookend.diner

Monday, May 24th: @katieneedsabiggerbookshelf

Wednesday, May 26th: @dropandgivemenerdy

Monday, May 31st: @nurse_bookie


Monday, May 31st: Nurse Bookie

Monday, May 31st: @jenniaahava

Wednesday, June 2nd: She Just Loves Books and @shejustlovesbooks

Thursday, June 3rd: The Sketchy Reader

Monday, June 7th: @mrsboomreads

Wednesday, June 9: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom

Thursday, June 10th: Kahakai Kitchen

Friday, June 11th: @babygotbooks4life

Monday, June 14th: From the TBR Pile

Wednesday, June 16th: Books and Bindings

Thursday, June 17th: Blunt Scissors Book Reviews and @bluntscissorsbookreviews

Friday, June 18th: Openly Bookish

Monday, June 21st: @aimeedarsreads

Tuesday, June 22nd:  Eliot’s Eats

Wednesday, June 23rd: Write Read Life

Friday, June 25th: Girl Who Reads

 I’m also linking up with Foodies Read for June.

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