Thursday, January 27, 2011

The School of Essential Ingredients; Erica Bauermeister


Title: The School of Essential Ingredients
Author: Erica Bauermeister
Publication Year: 2010
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Edition: Audio Book
Reader: Cassandra Campbell
Source: Library
Date Completed: 1/26/2011
Setting:  Lillian's Cooking School (location unsure)
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Recommend: Yes

The School of Essential Ingredients,  tells the life experiences of eight cooking-class students who meet at Lillian's restaurant each Monday evening. The individuals, are as different as their reasons for taking the class, however, before the classes are over, each will be transformed in some small way by the experience. Some of the characters are: Claire, a young wife and mother, Antonia, an Italian immigrant, Tom, a widower, Carl and Helen, an older couple, Chloe, young and independent, and Charlie.

The novel opens with Lillian's story, a woman who learned to cook at a young age, and as she got older, cooking became a form of therapy for her. With each new chapter, comes a new class, new recipe, and a new class member whose story is revealed.  Each story brings with it a combination of happy and sad revelations, which unfold as the students learn to prepare delightful foods that the reader/listener can almost smell and taste from the vivid prose. Some of the recipes feel almost sensuous, others not so much, like when the class learns to kill and prepare crab.

The reader, Cassandra Campbell, made this book sound like beautiful music to my ears. Her lovely speaking voice, made this the perfect sensory experience. Not only is this debut novel a satisfying story, it's realistic, as the individuals dealing with the struggles and stresses of life, soon find that food not only has the potential of satisfying the palate, but that it can sometimes heal the soul as well.  This is the perfect type of story to get you out of any reading funk. I loved listening to this story, but when it was over, I was sad that there wasn't an epilogue, to learn a bit more about the students after the completed the classes -- sequel? Despite this,  I highly recommend this audio book.

26 comments:

  1. Oh man I have this book on my shelf but now I kind of wish I had the audiobook instead.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I thought this was alovely audio book too. It makes me hungry just thinking about it :-)

    ReplyDelete
  3. This was one of my favorite reads in 2010 !

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'm so glad you enjoyed it, Diane. I read it a couple of years ago and put it on my 2009 favorites list. I think I'll see if my library has the audiobook. After reading your thoughts I want to listen to it. Also, I remember wishing to know what happened next. I'd love to read a sequel!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I really enjoyed this novel. Although I have to admit while I was reading it I would get SO hungry! The food descriptions are just divine, aren't they?

    ReplyDelete
  6. I really enjoyed this novel too. Although I have to admit that while I was reading it I would find myself feeling VERY hungry. The food descriptions are just divine!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I liked this book very much as well! It sure made me crave certain food things though! :--)

    ReplyDelete
  8. It's not normally the type of book I'd pick-up but I love food and stories that center around food.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Sounds like an interesting plot. Thanks for the review.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I read this one awhile ago, and just loved it! Bauermeister really put a lot of feeling into her writing and it was impossible not to be moved by the story she told. Great book, and fantastic review! So glad you loved it!

    ReplyDelete
  11. This is exactly why I love book bloggers - discovering books I would never otherwise find. This sounds wonderful. Thanks for the tip.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I might be enticed by this IF I loved to cook. I'm more interested in the people at the table than what's on it.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I am always looking for new narrators so I am glad to hear of Cassandra Campbell - I was going to read this book but I think I will listed instead!

    ReplyDelete
  14. I loved this when I read it a 2 years ago, I think!! I'm sure the audio would be great!

    ReplyDelete
  15. It's been awhile, but I remembering loving this one...and the characters!

    ReplyDelete
  16. I love books with food as a central theme so I need to read this one!

    ReplyDelete
  17. I am always looking for audiobooks with great narration; sounds like this one has that plus a wonderful story :) Thanks for the great review.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I loved this on audio, too... probably more than I would have if I'd read it. Very well done!

    ReplyDelete
  19. I have heard good things about this book. Will add it t my wish list!

    ReplyDelete
  20. This book is sitting in my TBR stack. I've been meaning to read it...and that one...and that one...etc! lol
    But I do want to read this book and now that I know you really enjoyed it, it's moving up the stack!

    ReplyDelete
  21. Oh, Cassandra Campbell is a wonderful reader! I'm glad you liked this one. I've wondered about it, not sure if it would be cheesy or wonderful. Sounds like it's more the latter!

    ReplyDelete
  22. I'm pretty sure Sandy loved this one in audio too. I have it in print, but think I may try the audio instead.

    ReplyDelete
  23. My sister, who is a personal chef, would love this one!

    ReplyDelete
  24. I didn't listen to the audio version; I read a hard copy. And the language was just beautiful. I'm sure it worked well as an audio book. This is one of my all-time favorites based on the author's use of language and the descriptions the use all of the reader's senses.

    ReplyDelete
  25. This one languished on my shelf for quite awhile. I finally got around to it just before Thanksgiving last year and I wish I'd read it much sooner. I agree with everything you said, and I too hope for some kind of follow up.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Just moved some books to a new bookshelf this week, including this one and I was reminded again of how much I want to get to it. Now your review. Clearly it's time!

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for taking the time to visit and double thanks for any comments. If you ask a question in your comments, I will try to reply to it here, or by email if your settings allow me to do so. Thank again for visiting.