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Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Love Goddess' Cooking School...Review

About the book:
Camilla's Cucinotta: Italian Cooking Classes
Fresh take-home pastas and sauces daily
Benvenuti (Welcome!)

Holly Maguire's grandmother was the Love Goddess of Blue Crab Island, Maine–a Milanese fortune teller who could predict the right man for you, and whose Italian cooking was rumored to save marriages. Holly has been waiting years for her unlikely fortune: her true love will like sa cordula, an unappetizing old-world delicacy. But Holly can't make a decent marinara sauce, let alone sa cordula. Maybe that's why the man she hopes to marry breaks her heart. So when Holly inherits Camilla's Cucinotta, she's determined to forget about fortunes and love and become an Italian cooking teacher worthy of her grandmother's legacy.

But Holly's four students are seeking much more than how to make Camilla's chicken alla Milanese. Simon, a single father, hopes to cook his way back into his daughter's heart. Juliet, Holly's childhood friend, hides a painful secret. Tamara, a serial dater, can't find the love she longs for. And twelve-year-old Mia thinks learning to cook will stop her dad from marrying his phony lasagna-queen girlfriend.

As the class gathers each week, adding Camilla's essential ingredients of wishes and memories into every pot and pan, unexpected friendships and romances are formed–and tested. Especially when Holly falls hard for Liam . . . and learns a thing or two about finding her own recipe for happiness.

So many books that are filled with multiple women bonding over some hobby are cliched, predictable and shallow.  This one isn't.  It is, quite simply, delightful.  I love Holly. (She has such a great name!)  When she takes her broken heart back to Maine, her grandmother welcomes her home.  Just as she is becoming comfortable, her grandmother passes away and she's left to find herself on her own.  Armed with her grandmother's recipe book, kitchen and diaries, Holly leaps headlong into a new life.  

Camilla's essential ingredients were wishes and memories and it's when Holly begins choosing which wishes and memories to add to her recipes, that she discovers what she wants out of life.   

The narration evokes familiarity.  I think most people have memories which involve food and the preparation of food. So much of Holly's story takes place in the kitchen: her grandmother's kitchen and then hers.  My family isn't Italian (we're Scotch/English), but we love cooking and I have many fond memories of cooking with my mother and grandmother.  Most of the significant discussions of my youth happened in the kitchen while my mom and I were cooking.    

There is one unnecessary instance of the F word, and some pre-marital sex, but without all the details, thank goodness!    

With quirky characters and a charming heroine, this is a delicious story of friendship, love and discovery.

Thanks to Simon & Shuster for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Melissa Senate here. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 10/10

* * * *
4/5 Stars

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