This book is absolutely decadent. It is rich and beautiful, a pure pleasure to read. Erica Bauermeister uses adjectives as though they cost her nothin...moreThis book is absolutely decadent. It is rich and beautiful, a pure pleasure to read. Erica Bauermeister uses adjectives as though they cost her nothing and are worth everything.
Every page brings another wave of descriptions, washing over the reader, bringing not only an increased understanding of the objects and places of the story, but also a heightened sensitivity to everything you find yourself surrounded by when you set the book down. The delicious awareness of sights, sounds, and smells carries over into real life, deepening your appreciation for all the small potential pleasures that people normally overlook. The author is clearly in love with life, enamored by the world around her; it’s apparent in every sentence, and it’s also infectious.
The gorgeous prose of the book is so satisfying as to make it almost unimportant to pay attention to what the book is actually about, which is why the simplicity of the plot works so well. A group of individuals, from widely varying walks of life, come together for a cooking class that meets on Monday evenings, once a month. There isn’t much more to it than that. The story is more about the people, who they are and how they are changing, than what is currently happening in their lives.
As the book and the course progress, each main character gets a turn on center stage with a chapter of his or her own, providing backstory and context. This is accomplished with subtlety and grace, the transitions made effortless by the reunion of the entire ensemble at each class session.
Ms. Bauermeister is a master of the craft of description. She does not fall into the trap of overly-flowery depictions of superfluous detail, but somehow keeps it concise while sweeping you off your feet. She describes the effects of falling in love with such accuracy and fondness that it is impossible not to feel it right along with her characters. With every shared glance, every touch, you’re there in the moment, with your pulse quickening and your heart swelling.
She manages the same feat with the characters’ experience of eating wonderful food, turning each bite into a life-changing event. At times, it is difficult not to jump out of your seat and run to the kitchen, to bury your nose in a bulb of garlic and pour a glass of wine.
Every page of The School of Essential Ingredients is a feast for the senses, one you never want to end. It goes by too quickly, even if you try to savor it, leaving behind a heady aftertaste and a hunger for more.(less)
This was a recommendation from my local librarian, who thought I would love the writers and writing theme. I did enjoy that very much, but the charact...moreThis was a recommendation from my local librarian, who thought I would love the writers and writing theme. I did enjoy that very much, but the characters themselves didn't hold my interest as much as I would have liked.
My main complaint about Old School is that I couldn't get past the disrespectful way Mr. Wolff wrote about Ayn Rand as a visiting author at the school in his book. Regardless of the target, and whether or not the criticism is just, reading so many pages of spite and bile directed at another writer spoils a book for me somewhat. I don't think a published novel is the proper arena for such sentiment.
Maybe I would have liked the book more if I hero-worshipped Hemingway, as the main character (and clearly the author) did.(less)
This was actually really funny. I did not expect that. I'm really enjoying Jane Austen, and I didn't expect that, either. I am almost done with the no...moreThis was actually really funny. I did not expect that. I'm really enjoying Jane Austen, and I didn't expect that, either. I am almost done with the novels, all I have left is to read Persuasion and re-read Pride and Prejudice. Then I can re-read The Jane Austen Book Club and get even more out of it!(less)
This was a wild and crazy book. It was astonishing, thought-provoking, and quite exciting.
I can fully understand why, after reading this third instal...moreThis was a wild and crazy book. It was astonishing, thought-provoking, and quite exciting.
I can fully understand why, after reading this third installment, some Christians find this series to be pretty offensive, maybe even appalling. I think this reaction is a bit extreme for a work of fiction, when all this book does (although this is no small feat) is get the reader to think about radically different perspectives of the world and the universe. It's not a book about how things are, it's a book about one way things could be, and what kinds of events might take place if our universe was indeed like this.
It certainly isn't a perfect novel or series, but it's so thoroughly absorbing, at times so utterly mind-blowing, that I'm willing to overlook certain issues with the plot and rhetoric. (I won't even call them errors, because they were just things I would have done differently.) It's got enough science in it to make you wonder how much of it is plausible, and which concepts are entirely products of the author's imagination.
Reading this book may result in extreme thinking. Consider yourself warned.(less)