Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Lost Art of Mixing by Erica Bauermeister {book tour}


title:  The Lost Art of Mixing

author: Erica Bauermeister
series: sequel to The School of Essential Ingredients
publisher:  Putnam Adult (release date 1/24/13)
source: TLC book tours
"foodie" elements: yes
hard cover: 288  pages

random excerpt:  And yet he needed them—the food, the conversation, the feeling of communion they brought into his day.  They were like perfume slipped behind the ear of a beautiful woman, or wine with dinner—nothing you had to have to live, and yet nothing felt more like life than the experience of them.

summary/synopsis (from book page on E.B's website):  Lillian and her restaurant have a way of bringing 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 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 then 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 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.

my thoughts/review:  This book is the much anticipated (by me) follow-up to one of my favorite foodie books in the world, The School of Essential Ingredients.  Really.  It's in my top 5 favorite foodie books and probably in my top 10 favorite anything books.  In preparation, I re-read The School of Essential Ingredients and as soon as I turned the last page on that, I opened this and kept on going.  I have good news and I have bad news.

Let's start with the bad.  And really, it's not "bad" bad.  It's just that I felt the food was left behind a little in The Lost Art of Mixing.  I mean, it still had a presence...a delicious, lingering presence...but it was definitely in the background this time.  This may not be bad news for some.  I know not everybody loves and looks forward to a food-centric novel the way I do.

On to the good.  I love Bauermeister's style of writing.  She takes on character and focuses on them for one chapter while still weaving the rest of the characters in the story strategically into the chapter of the "chosen" character's life.  I can feel what the characters feel.  I can smell what they smell.  I can taste what they taste.  She writes with a sensual quality that I just cannot get enough of.

So.  I suppose that I let myself down with all of my mental build-up.  I did enjoy learning what some of my favorite characters from the first story were up to now.  And the characters new to this book were great, too.  The food moments that were present were peppered sporadically throughout as opposed to reaching out and grabbing you by the bib from pretty much every page like the first book did.   So while the writing, the characters, and the setting were flawless...I felt a teensy-tinsy bit bummed out.

That said, Bauermeister is a fantastic writer and I do recommend this to lovers of chick-lit, as well as foodies (with the advanced warning that if you read the previous novel, be prepared for less food in this one).  I know, I know, get over it already. 

about the author:  Erica Bauermeister is the author of The School of Essential Ingredients, a novel of eight students and their cooking teacher, set in a restaurant kitchen...and its follow-up, The Lost Art of Mixing.  Her non-fiction work includes 500 Great Books by Women: A Reader's Guide and Let's Hear It For the Girls: 375 Great Books for Readers 2-14. She received a Ph.D. in literature from the University of Washington and has taught at both the U.W. and Antioch. Her love of slow food and slow living was inspired during the two years she spent living with her husband and two children in northern Italy. She currently lives in Seattle with her family.

further info: website

*I received a free copy of this book to review from the publisher. All thoughts and opinions stated in this post are 100% mine.


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