Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Book Review: The Lost Art of Mixing

The Lost Art of MixingAuthor: Erica Bauermeister
Publication Date: January 24, 2013
Publisher: Putnam Adult

National bestselling author Erica Bauermeister returns to the enchanting world of The School of Essential Ingredients in this luminous sequel.

Lillian and her restaurant have a way of drawing people together. There’s Al, the accountant who finds meaning in numbers and ritual; Chloe, a budding chef who hasn’t learned to trust after heartbreak; Finnegan, quiet and steady as a tree, who can disappear into the background despite his massive height; Louise, Al’s wife, whose anger simmers just below the boiling point; and Isabelle, whose memories are slowly slipping from her grasp. And there’s Lillian herself, whose life has taken a turn she didn’t expect. . . .

Their lives collide and mix with those around them, sometimes joining in effortless connections, at other times sifting together and separating again, creating a family that is chosen, not given. A beautifully imagined novel about the ties that bind—and links that break—The Lost Art of Mixing is a captivating meditation on the power of love, food, and companionship.

“A ritual was a way to hold time – not freezing it, rather the opposite, warming it through the touch of your imagination.” – Hardback Copy pg. 24

“And yet he needed them – the food, the conversation, the feeling of communion they brought into his day. They were like perfume slipped behind the ear of a beautiful woman, or wine with dinner – nothing you had to have to live, and yet nothing felt more like life than the experience of them.” – Hardback Copy pg. 29

“The bakery was warm, the air filled with the scents of sugar and yeast and chocolate.” – Hardback Copy pg. 54

“Memories turned into recipes, recipes turned into stories.” – Hardback Copy pg. 57

“The taste of strawberries, warm from the sun, plucked from their hiding places in the overgrown garden of her grandmother’s house, where Chloe would visit for two blissful weeks during the summer. The clomp of the strawberries hitting the bottom of the metal bucket, until the layers deepened and the sound became a muffled plop, while the sun heated her shoulders and the fruit that didn’t make it into the pail dissolved in her mouth. Back at the house, she would wash and hull and slice the berries, dropping them in a big blue bowl while her grandmother made shortcake and whipped cream into clouds.” – Hardback Copy pg. 57

“Lillian was a woman in love with a kitchen. It was not the love of an architect, the deep satisfaction in a layout of counters and cabinets designed to make the act of cooking feel effortless. Nor was it the love of a grown-up for the kitchen of her childhood, nostalgia soaked into every surface. Lillian’s love for her kitchen was the radiant gratitude of an artist for a space where imagination moves without obstacles, the small, quiet happiness of finding a home, even if the other people in it are passing through – maybe even a bit because of that.” – Hardback Copy pg. 68

I have always loved to read books that surround cafes, bakeries, or just food in general. This book was like a warm bowl of soup on a cold, rainy day. I wanted this book to last forever, and was extremely sad to see it end. This book held a wonderful array of characters, each with a remarkable story to share with you. One of the characters, Isabelle, is suffering from Alzheimer’s and the story is somewhat built around her. We see how each character reacts to Isabelle and how her condition of life depletes. This story is beautiful and every bit worth the hours that I spent emerged in the pages.

This story is told from alternating view points of Louise, Al, Chloe, Lillian, Finnegan, Tom, Isabelle and a few other secondary characters that come onto the scene at different times. I especially loved Chloe and Finnegan, not because they were young but because they had the most to learn from each other and the wiser characters around them. Chloe’s first chapter was my favorite to read because it highlighted upon her relationship with Isabelle and readers can truly begin to see how much she and Isabelle mean to one another. At first I felt that the story was starting very slowly, but then I realized that it was just prepping readers with a little background knowledge surrounding each character. After the first few chapters the characters begin to connect and their relationships unfold.

Do not read this book when you are hungry. I say this because some of the most vivid and spectacular lines involved the descriptions of the foods and dishes that Chloe or Lillian were preparing. Even scenes while Lillian is at the supermarket picking out fresh fruit or vegetables had my mouth watering. The descriptions are so rich and so full of color that I felt as if I could just reach out in front of me and pull back one of the amazing dishes that were being prepared. I am not sure if Erica Bauermeister has a passion for cooking or just enjoys writing about people that do, but I will tell you that she has a knack for persuading her readers to jump on board with whatever is cooking in the kitchen!

***A copy of this book was kindly provided to me by Putnam Adult in return for my honest, unbiased review***


1 comment:

  1. I really want to read this. I am adding it to my wishlist right now. The setting is terrific. Thanks for your review.