The Lost Art of Mixing

In her debut novel, The School of Essential Ingredients, Erica Bauermeister introduced readers to chef Lillian and the students whose lives intertwine at her restaurant's cooking class. Bauermeister returns to Lillian and her kitchen in The Lost Art of Mixing, introducing a new cast of characters who need the healing only good food and friendship can bring.

Sous chef Chloe and dishwasher Finnegan are both recovering from heartbreak, drawn to one another but holding back, skittish and afraid. Isabelle and her adult children are struggling with the implications of Isabelle's memory loss. Accountant Al takes refuge in numbers as his marriage falls apart, while Lillian herself faces a new challenge she didn't expect.

Bauermeister explores each character's life in turn, slowly revealing the experiences that have shaped them, the deep wounds that have left them hungry. She weaves food into each character's story, linking it inextricably with memories--sweet, painful, often both. As the characters' relationships deepen, Bauermeister shows some incidents from several points of view, deftly twining the disparate threads of their lives together. Each chapter holds surprises, as Lillian and her friends come to view themselves and their loved ones in new ways. The ending is more a pause than a final resolution, as the characters all begin to create something new from the changing ingredients of their lives.

As any cook knows, mixing up a new recipe can be challenging, even difficult, but Bauermeister serves up a delicious, captivating story to nourish both longtime fans and new readers. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams

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