From the Amazon product description: The School of Essential Ingredients follows the lives of eight students who gather in Lillian’s Restaurant every Monday night for cooking class. It soon becomes clear, however, that each one seeks a recipe for something beyond the kitchen. Students include Claire, a young mother struggling with the demands of her family; Antonia, an Italian kitchen designer learning to adapt to life in America; and Tom, a widower mourning the loss of his wife to breast cancer. Chef Lillian, a woman whose connection with food is both soulful and exacting, helps them to create dishes whose flavor and techniques expand beyond the restaurant and into the secret corners of her students’ lives.
When this book came out, I entered every blog contest I could find because it sounded just like something I would like. The format of disparate characters brought together and then having their personal lives revealed is one of my favorites, Maeve Binchy does it all the time and I enjoy those immensely. But this book didn't charm me. The time spent developing the characters was my favorite part but it was not enough to give me a connection with any single one that would carry me through the rest of the book. The "rest of the book" is the cooking classes at the restaurant. There I was left cold. Although using the author's style I couldn't just say cold, every description seemed to require a simile and then description was piled on top of description to really overwhelm me. The five-star reviewers describe the writing as lush and sensuous; the one star reviewers share my feeling that it was all just too much!
This post is linked to Weekend Cooking over at Beth Fish Reads. Click on the logo to see the other posts this week.
This book counts toward the 2010 Audiobook Challenge hosted by the bloggers over at Royal Reviews. Click on the button to see my progress.