Saturday, June 13

The Lost Recipe for Happiness - Barbara O'Neal

When Elena Alvarez fights with Dimitri, her sometimes lover and head chef at Vancouver's Blue Turtle, it's the last straw. When the owner of Blue Turtle, director Julian Liswood, offers her an amazing position she jumps at the opportunity even though it means relocating. Liswood is opening a new restaraunt in Colorado and he wants Elena to be head chef. It's going to be a lot of work - Elena not only needs to create a new menu and redesign the building layout but also negotiate her relationships with the rest of the crew, including former head chef Ivan, a man with a drinking problem and a massive chip on his shoulder but a brilliant cook.
I don't know why I didn't really enjoy The Lost Recipe For Happiness as much as I expected. Maybe it's just that there was too much. There are significant secondary plots about Elena's childhood, including her abandonment by her mother, the death of one grandmother, the transplantation to the Latin side of her family, and her sole survival following a devastating accident many years earlier that has left her with significant scarring and pain. There are recipes scattered through the narrative. There's a romance and the resolution of an old relationship. There's the ending of an old friendship and haunting by long-dead ghosts.
It wasn't bad, everything hung together alright, the writing was fine and the characters were fairly well developed, though everything wrapped up a little more neatly than I found believable. I just didn't find the experience as rewarding as I'd hoped, and it's really irritating me that I can't pinpoint why. - Alex

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