Tuesday, October 22, 2013
G40 Book Review of The Lost Art of Mixing by Erica Bauermeister
Author: Erica Bauermeister
Part of a Series: The School of Essential Ingredients a.k.a Monday Night Cooking School is a prequel.
Type of book: Cooking, restaurant, food, rituals, memory loss, relationships, surprises, changes, capturing lives and moments, 2000s
Year it was published: 2013
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.
The characters are well rounded and unique; each one having a different personality and desires. There are a few repeat characters such as Lillian, Tom, Chloe, and Isabelle, and I also would have liked to know what happened to other characters from the previous book. Food plays a huge role in their lives, and there is also discussion on the meaning of rituals and the author has done a good job of devoting a chapter to each of the characters as well as showing off their uniqueness. With the new characters, Al is devoted to numbers and to structure; Finnegan who desires to capture people's stories before they are gone; Louise who refuses to give voice to her inner demons, then there's Abby, Isabelle's oldest daughter who sees herself as a bad guy. The lives become unexpected and much more rounder than before.
Food plays a huge role in life
Its written in third person narrative from all the characters' points of views. While the book does answer some questions, it seems to neglect answering others, and its up to the reader to interpret it the way they want to. Its a chapter per character, each chapter featuring different character and in there we become more familiar with their thoughts, ideas, history and motivations.
Pasadena, California, The United States
Literature & Fiction, Nonfiction
E.M. Forster, Jane Austen, Susan Vreeland, Joanne Harris Alice Hoffman...more
About this author
Erica Bauermeister is the bestselling author of the novel The School of Essential Ingredients and the upcoming novel Joy For Beginners (June 9, 2011). The School of Essential Ingredients is currently being published in 22 countries and Joy For Beginners was recently selected to be performed as part of the New Short Fiction Series in Los Angeles (June 12, 2011). Erica Bauermeister received a B.A. from Occidental College and a Ph.D. from the University of Washington. She is also the co-author of 500 Great Books by Women: A Reader's Guide and Let's Hear It For the Girls: 375 Great Books for Readers 2-14. She currently lives in Seattle, Washington with her family.
Just like The School of Essential Ingredients, this book also has mixture of food and memories and humanity in a delightful blend of life. It is pretty necessary to read the prequel to this book. I called it "food pornography book," not because its dirty, but because in the book, food is a necessary ingredient that enriches and enlivens human lives. There are some differences between the two; one is that a few chapters had a repeating character, while in the previous book every chapter featured a different character. I did find it a delightful read, but I think that something like this can only be read once every few years, for some odd reason it doesn't call me back to re-read it over and over.
Quick notes: I won this book on goodreads.com thus this review will appear in its entirety on goodreads as well as the blog.
4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)