Once a month on Monday night, eight students gather in Lillian's restaurant for a cooking class. Among them is Claire, a young woman coming to terms with her new identity as a mother; Tom, a lawyer whose life has been overturned by loss; Antonia, an Italian kitchen designer adapting to life in America; and Carl and Helen a long-married couple whose union contains surprises the rest of the class would never suspect.The students have come to learn the art behind Lillian's soulful dishes, but it soon becomes clear that each seeks a recipe for something beyond the kitchen. One by one they are transformed by the aromas, flavors, and textures of what they create, including a white-on-white cake that prompts wistful reflections on the sweet fragility of love, and a garlic and red sauce that seems to spark one romance but end another. Over time, the paths of the students mingle and intertwine, and the essence of Lillian's cooking expands beyond the restaurant and into the secret corners of their lives, with results that are often unexpected, and always delicious.
What a wonderful little gem of a book! I loved almost everything about the book. My only complaint was that the it was too short. At the end of the book, I was upset that there wasn't more. How dare the author leave me hanging? All kidding aside, it was one of those books that nurtures your soul. Loved it! Loved it!
I enjoyed the way that each character had their own chapters, which gave their individual story without making it seem overly done. I also enjoyed that each character had their own emotional breakthrough recipe. And each of those "recipes" made the ending where they're all intertwined more special and believable. Where it also made me want more. I didn't want those stories to end. It felt like they were just beginning.
If you haven't read this book yet, what are you waiting for...You won't regret it!
The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister (5/5) General Fiction; Published: G.P. Putnam's Sons (2009); New Author; Favorite Read 2012; Library; Books 2012 (51);