The Lost Art of MixingThe Lost Art of Mixing by Erica Bauermeister
Published by Putnam, an imprint of Penguin
Review copy provided by TLC Book Tours

From the publisher:

Lillian and her restaurant have a way of drawing people together. There’s Al, the accountant who finds meaning in numbers and ritual; Chloe, a budding chef who hasn’t learned to trust after heartbreak; Finnegan, quiet and steady as a tree, who can disappear into the background despite his massive height; Louise, Al’s wife, whose anger simmers just below the boiling point; and Isabelle, whose memories are slowly slipping from her grasp. And there’s Lillian herself, whose life has taken a turn she didn’t expect. . . .

Their lives collide and mix with those around them, sometimes joining in effortless connections, at other times sifting together and separating again, creating a family that is chosen, not given. A beautifully imagined novel about the ties that bind—and links that break—The Lost Art of Mixing is a captivating meditation on the power of love, food, and companionship.

I wanted to read this book because I truly enjoyed its predecessor, The School of Essential Ingredients, when I read it a few years back. True to what I’ve come to expect from Bauermeister, this novel was a lovely return to beloved characters and was a comfortable, entertaining read. I really enjoyed it.

I would definitely recommend reading The School of Essential Ingredients before this book (if you haven’t already, and you like foodie books, what are you waiting for?) because the characters’ stories pick up shortly after they left off in the first book. It’s definitely helpful to have experienced these characters once before to truly appreciate this novel. I loved where Bauermeister took their stories (especially Lillian’s!) and even more I appreciated how each character was related to the others in different and sometimes unexpected ways. Each character had their own perspective, and it was interesting to see how each person saw the exact same event or series of events through very different lenses, depending on their perspective and bias towards what was going on. I vaguely remember that same kind of thing happening in the first book, but it struck me as more profound in this novel.

I would be remiss not to admit that I was a tiny bit disappointed to see a lack of mouth-watering descriptive food scenes in this novel. Yes, there were some of course, and much of the book is set in Lillian’s restaurant kitchen, but The School of Essential Ingredients is chock-full of these delicious descriptions and I didn’t find as many as I was looking forward to in The Lost Art of Mixing. That’s a minor quibble, but for readers who loved that about the first book, be prepared to potentially not get your foodie fix in this second installment.

The Lost Art of Mixing was such a great companion to Bauermeister’s first novel and I highly recommend reading it for lovers of foodie fiction and/or women’s fiction. What was really fun about the ending to this novel is that she totally left it open to continuing these characters’ stories with a third book. I would love that! Definitely pick up these two books, Bauermeister is a gem of an author and her stories are not to be missed.