Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Lost Art of Mixing - Erica Bauermeister (Audio)

I've never met a book by Erica Bauermeister that I haven't loved.  Well, at least I've loved her previous two books "The School of Essential Ingredients" (on audio) and "Joy For Beginners" (in print).  Erica has a certain way about her words.  She is a woman's writer for sure...she knows the topography of a woman's soul.  And she always seems to weave in the essence of FOOD, getting everything right when it comes to the smell and taste and texture of all things culinary.  

I was pretty excited to hear that she was writing a sequel to Essential Ingredients, a book about a group of ragtag individuals who come together for a cooking class at a very special restaurant owned by a very special chef.  There just wasn't enough closure at the end of that book.  In a very short time, I grew to love these people and wanted to know what happened "after".  Well, Erica gives us the after in "The Lost Art of Mixing".

Synopsis:  We have been reunited with some of our old friends from the neighborhood.  Lillian, our uber-chef and the hub of all things good, has established a relationship with widower Tom.  One would think their story was a happily ever after, but Tom is still struggling with the loss of his wife, and Lillian has a few secrets of her own.  Chloe has become Lillian's sous chef and friend/roommate of aging Isabelle, but can't seem to make a go of a relationship...even with the doting and charming dishwasher Finnegan.  Al, Lillian's accountant, is having issues with his wife and a mid-life crisis of sorts, that doesn't involve a girlfriend or a sports car.  

While Lillian was ground zero for many life changes in "Essential Ingredients", the gentle shifts all tend to occur around Isabelle in this segment.  While she is slowly losing her memories, she has gained a sense of other's emotions and needs, and strategically and shrewdly manipulates the situation as she sees fit. Isabelle has mastered the art of mixing from the best teacher in town...Lillian.

Although the stories that dodge and bob and weave and blend in this novel are darker than its predecessor, they are no less touching and graceful.  Erica once again has captured the spirit of life and love and loss.

My thoughts:  In re-reading my review of "Essential Ingredients", I am not sure this sequel left me in a similar heightened state of euphoria, but I truly enjoyed every minute of it.

There was definitely still food involved, but not quite as much, therefore less of that magic.  But I totally understood that this was the way it needed to be.  This book was not all about the cooking classes that Lillian holds on Monday nights.  It was about the relationships and situations that spawned from these classes, and how each had a few more battles to wage before it was all said and done.  

A few new characters were introduced in this book that I did not like much.  Al's wife was one of them.  I was ready for her to vamoose right off the page, thanks.  Same with Isabelle's oldest daughter, who wanted to control every aspect of her mother's life.  But...maybe we were meant to dislike these people, and provide some texture and perspective to those that we DO love.  There are obnoxious souls in all of our lives, right?  

It sounds like I am making excuses, and I probably am.  Because I love what Erica does.  I'm not sure that anything can quite live up to my adoration for her first book, but there is one thing for sure.  I will continue to read everything she writes.

A few words about the audio production:  Cassandra Campbell.  What more do I need to say?  She is the velvety-smooth, caramel voice that bewitches every story she delivers.  You could hand me an audio about dung beetles but if Cassandra were narrating, I'd listen.  Campbell and Bauermeister is a winning combination.  

Audio book length:  8 hours and 8 minutes (288 pages)

4 out of 5 stars  



16 comments:

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I keep delaying reading this, because I have heard I needed to reread the first one before starting this. What do you think?

bermudaonion said...

I've got this in print and look forward to reading it even though I've heard it's not as good as The School of Essential Ingredients.

Ti said...

I wanted more Lillian and more food talk but other than that, I enjoyed it a lot. It was like visiting with an old friend.

Literary Feline said...

I haven't read this or it's prequel. They've both gotten such great reviews from bloggers, including you, so you'd think I would at least have them in my TBR pile. I think it's the cooking/food theme that puts me off. I know the books aren't about cooking/food per say, but my brain hasn't fully registered that yet.

Carrie said...

I loved this one in print, and can only imagine that Campbell made it even richer.

Elisabeth said...

Maybe it was me, but I found this book very disappointing and hard to follow on audio. There was very little talk of the restaurant which I missed and I couldn't connect to the characters as I did in her prior book. Maybe it was because there was such a big gap between books, but that is usually not a problem for me. Oh well, hopefully her next book will be a better read for me.

Zibilee said...

I also have this one in print, and need to read it. I love Campbell though, and think she's an excellent narrator, so I might just go for the audio option. I loved the first book, and can see why there needs to be the shift to the more personal side of the character's lives, so I should really enjoy this one. Thanks for the perceptive review. You've enticed me into starting this one soon.

Jackie Bailey said...

I didn't realise there was a sequel to Essential Ingredients - I'll be sure to get to this one at some point.

At the moment I'm reading a book called Paprika that is very similar in style to Bauermeister's book. Anyone who enjoys those books will be sure to like this too.

Jackie Bailey said...

Ahh! It's not called Paprika - sorry my mind isn't working today - it's called Souffle!

Meg @ write meg! said...

I took Essential Ingredients to New York with me for the Book Blogger Convention a few years back, and I remember getting about 30 pages in before we arrived in the city. I tucked it into a bag and promptly forgot about it . . . and it sounds like that was a big mistake! I'm definitely going to look for the first book, then grab this one!

JoAnn said...

I loved the audio of the first book...hope to listen to this one soon!

stacybuckeye said...

I have her first two books, but sadly haven't found the time to read them. I really must.

caite said...

I liked this one, but did not love it...Essential Ingredients I loved...

Julie P. said...

Love her too! And just found out she's coming to the area!

Anna said...

I really enjoyed this one, too, but I don't think it was as good as The School of Essential Ingredients. I wonder if I should have re-read it before reading this one, though.

Melissa said...

You keep raving about Bauermeister's books. I really need to make time for one of them!