The Lost Art of Mixing by Erica Bauermeister
Putnam Adult, ISBN 978-0399162114
January 24, 2013, 288 pages
There is Lillian, restaurant owner and cooking school teacher, along with her now boyfriend, the widower Tom. And once again, Lillian and her restaurant are at the heart of the story, although this time around her personal life is about to take a turn that she never expected.
Then there is young Chloe, formerly a server, now training as a chef and the new arrived Finnegan, very tall and very quiet..and as steady as a tree, that in some ways he resembles. We also have Al, Lillian's accountant, a man not very happy with his lot in life and his wife Louise, who may have a lot more going on under her calm exterior than anyone knows. And finally there is Isabelle, who even as her mind is starting to slip away from her, still has some wisdom to impart, including to her own very stressed out doctor daughter Abbey.
Their stories, as they unfold, will intertwine, touch each other and bounce off again on their own, become bound together and become unbound...
I love Bauermeister's first book The School of Essential Ingredients.
I though it was a lovely book, almost magical in the way it presented the character's lives unfolding against a totally delicious background of Lillian's restaurant and food.
That is a very, very hard act to follow and, for me, The Lost Art of Mixing did not succeed.
Don't get me wrong. It is a pretty good book, fairly enjoyable.
But if you read the first one...and I think you should before you read this one...in my opinion you will be a little disappointed. In comparison, it is a nice story, but maybe missing the magic.
I did not find the characters and their stories nearly as engaging, and is it just me, or are several of them rather unlikeable? For me, reference to an abortion that seemed to have little impact except that it was a secret two sisters kept from their mom or the discussion of suicide as just a logical solution to a problem, left me more than a little cold. No, no warm and cozy feelings for me in this book.
For some reason, maybe a more disjointed presentation of the individual stories than I remember in the first, I also found the characters harder to connect with this time around.
And then there is the food, another big strength in the first. The creation of wonderful dishes, the aromas, the textures, the flavors all blending together, can be lovely and in TSoEI, Bauermeister was a master at describing them, as using them as a background for the unfolding stories.
This time around it seems to take a much more minor role in the story, even if the kitchen is a major setting, and that is not a good thing.
I have a feeling that mine may well be a minority opinion when this book comes out in a day or two, but so be it.
Sadly, this one left me a little cold.
If you have not read The School of Essential Ingredients, run out and grab it. I think you will love it.
The sequel, I can not so heartfully recommend.
My thanks to the publisher and Library Thing's Early Reviewers for providing a copy for review.