Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Review of "The Lost Art of Mixing"

The Lost Art of Mixing by Erica Bauermeister
Putnam Adult, ISBN  978-0399162114
January 24, 2013, 288 pages

In this sequel to the author's best selling The School of Essential Ingredients, all our favorite characters are back, along with a number of new folks.
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.
Loved it.
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.


  1. got the first one ... sometimes second books aren't as great as the first .. i might just pass based on your recco

  2. Oh, how disappointing. It's been a while since I read the first one s maybe I'll like this more than you did.

  3. Interesting! I can't wait to read it myself to see if I am yay or nay! :--)

    1. as I check out a few reviews after I wrote mine..as I tend to do...it seems I am in the minority. But there are some negatives and I am curious to see how it goes when more come out.
      But I have to call it as I see it! :-)

  4. Well that is funny. Funny/curious, not funny/haha. I haven't read this one yet...very patiently waiting for the audio to come to my library. I totally fell in love with Essential Ingredients and Joy for Beginners. The characters, the food, the happiness and heartache. So I'll be very interested to see my reaction. In the two I have read, it seems like the author has such a finger on the pulse of a woman's soul. I shall TRY to keep my expectations in check.

    1. maybe I don't have a finger on the pulse of a woman's soul.... :-O

  5. I really enjoyed this book, but I hadn't read the first one.

    I thought it was good.

    My review is on my blog if you want to see what I thought.

    The Lost Art of Mixing

  6. So sorry this didn't meet your expectations! I loved her first book, too, but haven't gotten around to reading this one.

  7. I loved the first one too...maybe I expect too much.


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