The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister
I received an advanced copy of this novel, and read it in a scant day. Though slender is size, this novel packs a punch.
Lillian, a wonderfully welcoming character, runs a small class for people wanting to look to cook. Each chapter takes on one of the eight attendees (as well as Lillian), giving the reader just a taste of their lives, their losses, and their struggles. Though we don't know them in depth, we still *know* them. Though brought together by food for different reasons, we see a common thread running through them all as their find the recipes for their own lives.
What makes this novel shine, though, is the luminous writing. This isn't a typically written novel - it feels like poetry on the page. Some of the sentences have to be read several times, savored, for their beauty. And the descriptions of the food, the recipes, will make you smell the kitchen, taste the ingredients, enjoy the sumptuous creations. I found myself reading slower and slower, wanting the words to be impressed on my brain, so pretty were they.
This is a lovely, lovely novel, filled with aromas, beauty of language, and satisfying conclusions. I wish I could stay in Lillian's kitchen longer...