Title: The Love Goddess’ Cooking School
Author: Melissa Senate
Release Date: October 26, 2010
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Holly is just about ready to give up on her search for love. After her boyfriend of two years breaks up with her for no reason, she flees to the small island near Portland, Maine where her grandmother lives. Holly’s nonna is a cooking legend on the island, and she hosts cooking classes for locals. But when she dies unexpectedly, Holly is forced to learn to stand on her own two feet. Though she knows nothing about cooking, she decides to take over her grandmother’s business and teach the cooking classes on her own.
I’ve been a fan of Melissa Senate’s for a very long time – her books have always been fun and enjoyable. Books such as Questions to Ask Before Marrying were solid chick lit novels, but they weren’t books that really lingered in my mind. That is, until her last book, The Secret of Joy. I’m not going to rehash that review here, but I will say that Senate really elevated herself with that book. Her writing and ability to tell an engaging story rose to a new level. I’m happy to say that The Love Goddess’ Cooking School only confirms Senate’s talent at writing women’s fiction – she’s become a must-read author in my book.
Holly is an endearing character who is easy to relate to. She’s completely lost at the beginning of the book. It’s easy to wonder how she thinks she can take over her grandmother’s cooking duties when she has so little cooking experience, but Holly is determined. It might not be the smartest idea, but Holly feels that, in her heart, it’s the right thing to do.
And that’s what this book is really about, the heart at the center of everything. Each of Holly’s nonna’s recipes contain an emotional ingredient: a wish, a sad thought, a happy memory. Senate presents the idea that in every delicious meal are the emotions of the cook. The way to make truly wonderful food is to pour yourself into it. It’s only when Holly begins to trust her abilities and put parts of herself into what she cooks that she is satisfied with the result.
The secondary characters in The Love Goddess’ Cooking School were also very well written. Mia is sweet and incredibly smart for a girl her age. I loved how she related all the adults’ problems to those facing her friends at school. Even though it’s amusing, she usually has a nugget of wisdom in her words, sometimes without realizing it. All the characters were sympathetic and it was wonderful to watch them develop and see how Holly’s cooking class changed each of them.
The Love Goddess’ Cooking School was a charming, sweet novel about love, trust, and the art of cooking. The food descriptions are mouthwatering, the story is engaging, and the characters are wonderful. For fans of women fiction, this is a novel that’s not to be missed.