Ghost stories are not my thing. Nor, frankly are lonely, deeply damaged individuals. And yet, I was entranced by Barbara O'Neal's The Lost Recipe for Happiness.
It was a lazy Saturday afternoon. A nap seemed like the thing so I picked this book up as something to read myself to sleep by. Six hours later, ravenously hungry and snuffling slightly I put the book down with a sigh. Seems I read the whole thing in one sitting.
The writing is fluid, the plot tight and the characters surprisingly complicated with out being terribly convoluted even if all of the characters are damaged in some way. On some level, you have to admire them because they have found ways to function and cope.
These are quintessentially lonely people who almost in spite of themselves begin to recover. At some point each of them realizes that somehow happiness has crept up on them. Even when they know that happiness never lasts.
As a sideline, one of my favorite aspects of the book are the recipes between the chapters. They are bound to make you salivate -- especially if you love good Southwestern/Mexican cooking the way I do. I might actually try a couple of them.
O'Neal not only loves food, but she obviously loves the Southwest; particularly Colorado and New Mexico. Her descriptions of the scenery are beautiful and evocative. Made me want to take a quick trip to Aspen and/or Santa Fe.
This is a story of recovery, new starts and taking chances. It will make you laugh and cry. And I guarantee you these characters will haunt you long after you finish the last chapter. This is a great read; don't miss it!
Here are the publishers notes:
In this sumptuous new novel, Barbara O’Neal offers readers a celebration of food, family, and love as a woman searches for the elusive ingredient we’re all hoping to find….
It’s the opportunity Elena Alvarez has been waiting for–the challenge of running her own kitchen in a world-class restaurant. Haunted by an accident of which she was the lone survivor, Elena knows better than anyone how to survive the odds. With her faithful dog, Alvin, and her grandmother’s recipes, Elena arrives in Colorado to find a restaurant in as desperate need of a fresh start as she is–and a man whose passionate approach to food and life rivals her own.
Owner Julian Liswood is a name many people know but a man few do. He’s come to Aspen with a troubled teenage daughter and a dream of the kind of stability and love only a family can provide. But for Elena, old ghosts don’t die quietly, yet a chance to find happiness at last is worth the risk.