Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Book Review: Recipe for a Charmed Life

By Allyson Bales

American chef Georgia May Jackson has one goal—to run her own restaurant in Paris. After a grueling decade working in Parisian kitchens, she is on the cusp of success. But in one disastrous night, Georgia loses her sous-chef position, her French boyfriend, and her sense of taste! Renowned for her refined palate and daring use of bold flavors to create remarkable dishes, Georgia is devastated to discover her culinary gift has simply...vanished.

When she receives a surprising invitation from her estranged mother, Georgia flees to a small island near Seattle hoping the visit will help her regain her spark in the kitchen. As she tentatively reconnects with her mom, a free-spirited hippie eager to make up for her past mistakes, Georgia realizes there is something about the enigmatic island she just cannot piece together. Good luck charms start appearing in the oddest places. Her neighbor is a puzzlingly antagonistic (and annoyingly handsome) oyster farmer. And her mom keeps hinting at a mysterious family legacy.

With the clock ticking and time running out to win her dream job in Paris, Georgia begins to unravel some astonishing secrets that make her wonder if the true recipe for a charmed life might look—and taste—very different than she ever imagined. (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.)

The Magic of Lemon Drop Pie was one of my favorite reads last summer.  I can still remember where I was when I read about Lolly.  I was sitting at a campfire and was completely transformed into her world and Lolly had my heart! When I saw that Rachel Linden had a new book coming out I knew I needed to read it as soon as possible!

Recipe For A Charmed Life touched my heart just the same as The Magic of Lemon Drop Pie and once again I could not get enough of this magical world or these amazing characters!

Linden has a knack for strong character development and beautiful book settings.  This story largely takes place on San Juan Island.  I had not heard of this beautiful island before but immediately did a deep dive and learned that it is in Washington State, north of Seattle.  My sister lives in Seattle and this is definitely going to be a place I visit the next time I go and see her!  So many places that Georgia visits in the story are on my bucket list now!  I love when an author beautifully details the setting of a story and you are able to completely teleport there alongside the characters.  I felt like I was in Star’s garden or having wine with Georgia.  I really could not get enough.  I also really fell in love with Georgia and Star.

“You have so much potential, but if you lose your spark, you will burn out, burn up.  Your life will become bitter, without true meaning.  You must not let that happen.”

Georgia’s biggest dream since she was ten years old is to run her own kitchen in Paris.  Her biggest inspiration is Julia Child and she is desperate to matter.  In the space of one evening she becomes jobless, boyfriendless, and homeless.   She decides to see her mother, Star, who left her 28 years ago.  There are secrets and magic and I really enjoyed following along as their story and dynamic unfollowed.  I also really enjoyed the exploration of home being a place that gives you a sense of true belonging, not just an address where you get your mail.  

Stories that really draw me in are ones that have characters that are relatable, and are going through changes that so many of us can understand.  Georgia is that character.  She reminded me a  bit of Amy Adams's character in the movie Julie and Julia.  Thoughtful, persistent, vulnerable, insecure, also loving and searching for what matters most to her and forgiveness.  

If you love stories about self discovery with some romance and some magic, I highly recommend you read this one!  I can’t wait for you to meet Georgia!

Thanks to Berkley for the book in exchange for an honest review.

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