Sandra Lee to publish novel that bears resemblance to life with Andrew Cuomo

The WSJ notes that the main character's love interest has the governor's love for corny humor and motorcycles

Published March 25, 2013 1:07PM (EDT)

Food Network star and live-in girlfriend of New York's Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Sandra Lee, is making her debut as a fiction writer, with, as once source puts it to the Wall Street Journal, "the type of fiction that appeals to her target demographic of women." The synopsis, from WSJ:

" 'The Recipe Box,' set to be published in July by Hyperion, tells the story of Grace D'Angelo, a single mother who returns to her hometown in Wisconsin after her best friend dies of breast cancer. The book chronicles Grace's attempt to come to terms with questions surrounding her daughter's paternity and the identity of her own father, and to fortify her relationship with her rebellious teenager. Along the way, she finds love with Mike Lund, a "muscular" teacher and volunteer firefighter with 'curly brown hair and deep gray eyes.' "

Although the source insits "it is just that—fiction," the WSJ has caught on to some uncanny similarities between the life of Grace D'Angelo and Mike Lund and that of Lee and Cuomo's. Namely:

Both Lee and D'Angelo own white cockatoos:

"In 'The Recipe Box,' there is a white cockatoo with a white crest named Halo, which belongs to Grace's daughter, Emma.

'Sitting in his cage on his perch, Halo was part lord of the manor and part resident court jester,' Ms. Lee writes.

And Michael Lund may or may not be Andrew Cuomo. For example, both Lund and Cuomo share a love for muscle cars and motorcycles:

"A motorcycle is also Mike's preferred mode of transportation, and he uses his to take Grace on one of their first dates. '[S]he had to admit, leaning into Mike, her arms around him, it didn't feel totally platonic,' Ms. Lee writes."

The Governor and Mike Lund both have "corny humor":

" The two have joked about their 'non-date,' and Grace asks whether they should consider it a 'non-kiss.' 'I think we have to count it,' Mike says. 'Maybe even enter it into the national register of great kisses.' "

As well as a "tendency to regale colleagues and reporters with a certain professorial flair for the historical minutiae of his profession" and "an affinity and skill for watercraft" by "an avid fisherman who knows his way around a canoe":

" 'Mike radiated an air of self-assurance,' Ms. Lee writes. 'The minute you encountered Mike, you knew that he could fend for himself—that he was the kind of guy who could survive in the wild, who'd be able to chop down trees with a penknife, build a shelter and make a fire with a bunch of driftwood, and locate water and edible berries.' "

The one way Mike Lund and Andrew Cuomo differ? (spoiler alert!):
"the novel ends with what may raise some eyebrows around Albany: a marriage proposal."

Echoing their jokes about 'non-dates,' Grace asks if she can have some time to consider the matter, and the two agree that it is a 'non-engagement.'

'She wanted to be with Mike, not because she needed a man who could save her. She had already saved herself. But because her life would always be more fun with him in it.'

Thinly-veiled fiction or not--at least Lee isn't thinking of her love sonnet novel as a movie.

By Prachi Gupta

Prachi Gupta is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on pop culture. Follow her on Twitter at @prachigu or email her at

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Andrew Cuomo Fiction Food Network New York Novels Sandra Lee