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In her sequel to The School of Essential Ingredients, Bauermeister picks up the threads of many of the characters first brought together in Lillian's cooking classes, adding a few new stories to the mix. Here we follow Al, the restaurant's accountant, soothed by numbers and flavors but unable to connect with Louise, his wife of 29 years; Chloe, the young sous-chef made timid by a failed relationship; Isabelle, the elderly woman with whom Chloe lives, struggling against the onset of Alzheimer's; and Finnegan, the impossibly tall dishwasher taking his first stab at independence. Lillian remains a sort of mythic background figure, although her unexpected pregnancy tests her and the touchy relationship she's having with Tom, a widower. Bauermeister weaves these individual stories in and among one another, but never stays with one character long enough for the reader to grow very attached, robbing each of depth. Still, Bauermeister's prose is strong, particularly when it comes to food, and her novel brings to life the adage "be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle." Agent: Amy Berkower, Writers House. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
In the relative hush of the predinner rush, Lillian quietly assesses her surroundings. She needs to prepare for the evening's specials, and she needs to take inventory for the week's orders. Ever since she opened her own restaurant, her brain seems to be constantly buzzing, always planning for the busy hours ahead. Even the most careful preparations, however, couldn't have allowed Lillian to anticipate the twist her life is about to take. Using Lillian's restaurant as the hub for a cast of widely varied characters, Bauermeister explores the intersections of community, food, belonging, and memory. With Isabelle, the elderly matriarch whose faculties are rapidly fading; Chloe, the feisty sous-chef who's positive she'll never be able to trust a man; and other friends and acquaintances, an interconnected and heartfelt story unwinds. In her third novel, Bauermeister displays her admirable talent for ensemble fiction, allowing various characters to share narration duties. Fans of Deborah Copaken Kogan and Meg Waite Clayton will enjoy the novel's intertwined narratives and shared experiences. Warm, funny, and deeply comforting, The Lost Art of Mixing is a delight.--Turza, Stephanie Copyright 2010 Booklist