Book Review: Starting from Scratch – Susan Gilbert-Collins

Title: Starting from Scratch
Author: Susan Gilbert-Collins
ISBN: 9781439143162
Pages: 336
Release Date: August 3, 2010
Publisher: Touchstone
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4 out of 5

Summary:

Olivia Tschetter seems to be stuck in a rut.  Two months after her beloved mother’s funeral, she’s still at her childhood home, puttering around the kitchen whipping up meals instead of defending her dissertation and moving forward with her life.   Her mother loved to cook and sent out a monthly newsletter with cooking tips and answers to her readers questions.  Olivia sees it as her duty to finish up her mother’s last newsletter.  In the process of her research, as well as her part-time job at Meals on Wheels, she finds solace and healing in the food around her.

Review:

Starting from Scratch is another entry into a growing women’s fiction niche:  books about food.  Her novel centers around food, and includes recipes in between the chapters.  While I don’t mind recipes in books (though it is starting to become a bit overused), I prefer them to be in the back of the book so they don’t interrupt the pace of the narrative.  Still, I did appreciate that Gilbert-Collins’ book was a bit different.  The centerpiece was certainly food, but it wasn’t about that.  Olivia uses food and cooking to cope with her mother’s death, but it takes a backseat to her personal journey.

Olivia was an endearing character.  She was easy to like and had a sweet, generous personality.  I felt bad that she was being pushed and pulled by her family, but at the same time, I could understand their reasoning.  The secondary characters weren’t quite as well-developed, but for the most part they were charming as well.  Ruby, Olivia’s sister, was a bit strange and difficult to like, but her circumstances become more clear as the book progresses.  The dynamics of this family are also fun and heartwarming.  Gilbert-Collins captured the essence of a large, loud, fun family very well in this novel. 

Starting from Scratch was a sweet, moving novel about dealing with grief.  As Olivia  begins to face her grief head-on, she makes some realizations about herself.  It’s very rewarding to watch her grow as the novel progresses.  This was a charming book; I look forward to seeing what Susan Gilbert-Collins does next.

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Comments

  1. I didn’t really think about it, but yes, it seems like there is a women’s fiction niche about food. I’ve read “Georgia’s Kitchen”, “Simply From Scratch”, “Good Enough to Eat”, and I just won “The Love Godesses’ Guide to Cooking School”. Hmmm…

    I also find that recipes can be annoying, but I don’t mind one at the end of each chapter, or all collected at the end of the book.

  2. I didn’t really think about it, but yes, it seems like there is a women’s fiction niche about food. I’ve read “Georgia’s Kitchen”, “Simply From Scratch”, “Good Enough to Eat”, and I just won “The Love Godesses’ Guide to Cooking School”. Hmmm…

    I also find that recipes can be annoying, but I don’t mind one at the end of each chapter, or all collected at the end of the book.

  3. Sounds like a nice read. I don’t mind recipes if they’re in the back. I don’ t think I’ve tried one recipe out of any of the novels I’ve read but I still love to read them.

  4. Sounds like a nice read. I don’t mind recipes if they’re in the back. I don’ t think I’ve tried one recipe out of any of the novels I’ve read but I still love to read them.

  5. Nice review. I recently purchased this for my Kindle. I’ve noticed it several times while browsing at B&N and Borders and finally decided to buy it.

    Now that you’ve mentioned it, I do have several books on my reading list that are women’s fiction centered around food.

  6. Nice review. I recently purchased this for my Kindle. I’ve noticed it several times while browsing at B&N and Borders and finally decided to buy it.

    Now that you’ve mentioned it, I do have several books on my reading list that are women’s fiction centered around food.

  7. Recipes in novels always through me for a loop if they’re in context–i.e., a character reads a recipe and thinks about it, but just as chapter buffers weirds me out. I’m glad you enjoyed this, though!

  8. Recipes in novels always through me for a loop if they’re in context–i.e., a character reads a recipe and thinks about it, but just as chapter buffers weirds me out. I’m glad you enjoyed this, though!

  9. I think this one’s going to be up next on my TBR pile, so I’m glad to hear you liked it!

  10. I think this one’s going to be up next on my TBR pile, so I’m glad to hear you liked it!

  11. I’m not big into women’s literature but this sounds like something I’d like. Please consider linking this review up to Weekend Cooking this weekend–it fits perfectly.

  12. I’m not big into women’s literature but this sounds like something I’d like. Please consider linking this review up to Weekend Cooking this weekend–it fits perfectly.

  13. I hadn’t thought about food in books being a genre. I have read a few ‘coffeehouse books’ and enjoyed those, but few with food.

    I enjoyed your reveiw. Visiting from ‘Weekend Cooking’.

  14. I hadn’t thought about food in books being a genre. I have read a few ‘coffeehouse books’ and enjoyed those, but few with food.

    I enjoyed your reveiw. Visiting from ‘Weekend Cooking’.

  15. I usually always like these types of books, but never make any of the recipes included in them. Not sure why that is, but I like the fact that they are there, most of the time. This sounds like a book I would really enjoy, so I will have to be on the lookout for it. Foodie books really intrigue me.

  16. I usually always like these types of books, but never make any of the recipes included in them. Not sure why that is, but I like the fact that they are there, most of the time. This sounds like a book I would really enjoy, so I will have to be on the lookout for it. Foodie books really intrigue me.

  17. I have several of these books in my TBR pile, but I also did not really notice that women and food/recipe novels had become a genre…but I think you’re right!! I’m adding this one to my list as well 🙂

  18. I have several of these books in my TBR pile, but I also did not really notice that women and food/recipe novels had become a genre…but I think you’re right!! I’m adding this one to my list as well 🙂

  19. As much as I’ve loved pretty much all of the ‘women’s fiction about food’ I’ve read, I’m wondering if I’m starting to be sort of over it, or at least overwhelmed by it.

  20. As much as I’ve loved pretty much all of the ‘women’s fiction about food’ I’ve read, I’m wondering if I’m starting to be sort of over it, or at least overwhelmed by it.

  21. Oh, books about food! This one totally calls to me, right down to the kitschy-esque cover.

  22. Oh, books about food! This one totally calls to me, right down to the kitschy-esque cover.

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