“Your time is limited so don’t waste it leading someone else’s life”
Steve Jobs, CEO, Apple Inc.
The above quote leads the reader into Part 1 of “Recipe For Life” where we meet Alice, a University student from the North of England, and discover the life changing event that makes her run away from all she has ever known, determined to live life to the full from now on.
Alice moves to London to share a flat in Maida Vale with her friend Leila and takes over Leila’s job, waitressing at a local brasserie, eventually being promoted to manager. She becomes close to the brasserie chef, Guyon and when he moves to Teatro, a stunning new restaurant owned by up and coming hot Chef, Tonino Ricci, she follows him there to work in the kitchens.
Hundreds of miles away, in Southern Italy, Babetta lives in a small house overlooking the Mediterranean, with her husband Nunzio. She spends her days caring for her own garden and the gardens of the Villa Rosa next door. They live quite frugally and when a depressed Nunzio decides he’s no longer going to speak Babetta’s life is quite bleak.
When Leilas wealthy, artist mother buys the Villa Rosa Leila tells Alice to ask her boss Tonino if she can take some time off from work to go to Italy. When he discovers that the Villa Rosa is in Triento the village where he grew up and where his parents (Raffaella and Ciro) and brother (Lucio) live still, Tonino is very enthusiastic that she go for the season.
He arranges for Alice to spend time working in his parents seafood restaurant, learning to cook the same way that he did.
As close neighbours Alice and Babetta immediately strike up a friendship despite not being able to speak each other’s language. In Babetta’s tiny kitchen they prepare wonderful dishes from recipes that she has gathered over many years, thus reawakening Babetta’s love of cooking, and she begins to prepare special dishes for herself and her husband Nunzio.
Alternating chapters chronicle Alice and Babetta’s lives as they both come to terms with the choices they make. Several years later they reconnect at the Villa Rosa, both of them changed in many ways.
At first glance it would be easy to mistake this book for a frothy romance, another book to read by the pool and there is plenty of boy meets girl, unrequited love etc. going on, but I think that it is more than just that.
“Recipe For Life” is about friends, food, relationships, and also about coming to terms with the things that happen to us in life, some of which may be beyond our control, and decisions or choices which might seem right when we make them but ultimately lead us along pathways that we might never have taken.
I thoroughly enjoyed “Recipe For Life”, the first book by this author that I have read, and if you think you’d like it too I’ll happily gift it to the first person who asks.
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