Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Back of the Book Blurb:
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.
This wasn’t as good as The School of Essential Ingredients, even though as a sequel (and having several of the same well-loved characters), there was potential. I was hoping that title, with it’s double entendre, was a preview of another book lush with great food made from excellent ingredients, with the personal stories weaving around (or growing out of) the food preparation. While there was some of that, it wasn’t the protagonist of the story as it was in her first book. That was disappointing, because the food was where the passion resonated from, and it was the catalyst that allowed the personal stories to blossom.
This is not to say that The Lost Art of Mixing was bad…it wasn’t. Some of the personal stories developed well, and were compelling. Some were less so. I particularly loathed Louise, and found her irredeemable even in the end. The thing is, had Bauermeister chosen to keep the food as a primary character in this book, I think the personal stories would have resonated with warmth across the board, rather than feel hit & miss as they did.
I’m glad I read it, because the characters that were so likable in The School of Essential Ingredients, and whose stories were not yet finished, made a repeat appearance. Those kinds of characters are hard to let go, and it was nice to see their stories find a conclusion…not a stopping point, but a point where you (the reader) know they are going to be ok.