Friday, April 22, 2011

The Lost Recipe for Happiness(Audio) by Barbara O'Neal

When Elena Alvarez is offered her dream job of executive chef at an upscale Aspen restaurant, she quickly accepts. But beneath her excitement about this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, Elena is haunted by tragic memories of a car accident that killed those closest to her twenty years ago, and the ghosts from the past that follow her wherever she goes. As she forges new friendships and creates enticing cuisine in her new surroundings, she begins to place her trust in others, and finally learns to confront her past, accept love, and truly heal. ( Synopsis from Barnes &

Audio CD- 12 hrs, 11 mins 10 CD's  Read by Bernadette Dunne

Elena Alvarez is a chef who gets the opportunity of a lifetime when she really needs it. Her on/off boyfriend is the head chef at a restaurant they have developed together and he fires her when she gets a bigger part in a newspaper article than he does. Luckily for Elena, Julian Liswood, the owner, offers her a head chef job at a new restaurant he is opening in Aspen. Elena packs up and moves, an action she is all too familiar with.  One of the recurring themes in this book is loss.  Elena has lost family members, her health, jobs, loves, and she keeps on going but she pays a big price.  Over the course of her life, she has become closed in and can't let go of her past. Her only constant relationship is with her big orange dog, Alvin.  Moving to Aspen gives her a chance to let go and move on, literally and figuratively. Julian is a famous horror movie writer and owns several sucessful restaurants. He has been divorced 4 times and has a teenage daughter, Portia. He too, has experienced traumatic loss in his life. It is not an easy road both characters to work out a relationship.

I enjoyed both reading and listening to this book. Elena is an interesting character with a sad life. She shows her joy through her cooking and the food descriptions make your mouth water and want to run out to a Tex-Mex restaurant (and I don't even like that type of food). She is so strong and at the same time so vulnerable, you can't help but root for her to find peace and happiness. Julian is a likeable character, who seems like a regular guy, in spite of his position in life. There are secondary characters who become important to the story even though we never really learn a lot about them. My favorite is Elena's sister Isabel, who floats in and out of the story, contributes to Elena's life story and to the final resolution to the story.

I read the book a while ago and happened upon the audio in NYC at the Strand bookstore. I had enjoyed the book so I hoped I would like the audio version. The audio  is wonderfully done by Bernadette Dunne, who really captures the essence of Elena.

Library notes: RPL has the book available in Adult fiction and will have the audio version after I donate it next week. We also have other books by the author, Barbara O'Neal.

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