Monday, October 1, 2012

Recipe for Life

This was a book I chose from an author that was suggested at our book club. We were challenged to find one of Nicky Pellegrino’s books to read and bring to the nest month’s book club night. I checked on line at the two libraries I belong to and put this one on hold not really knowing what I was going to be reading. 

Once I started I just found I wanted to keep reading. It was such a feel good book in a way and one I would highly recommend you read in the summer! 

On a basic level, it’s a wonderful and enchanting read, not to mention beautifully written. Pellegrino has a fantastic gift for subtly bringing a world to life so you can see it vividly in your mind – and almost smell the incredible meals being cooked up! I just loved it, but initially I couldn’t work out why. Maybe it was because I needed to just read a good chicklic book or something that feed me in more ways than one – and that’s exactly why Recipe for Life is so magical. 

The world Pellegrino creates isn’t perfect, and nor are the people who inhabit it. They’re just like us – sometimes confused, sometimes unhappy, and struggling to find the right career choice and the right person for them. And because of that they’re characters that you can really understand and like or want so much to win in life. 

Alice is right at the beginning of life. Just graduated from university and traumatised by a burglary gone wrong she flees to London, determined to pack all she can into every second. Discovering that cooking fulfills her, she throws herself into work, shutting out all that’s happened to her. As her life moves ever faster Alice feels that she’s losing control and when her friend Leila asks her to come and stay at her mother’s house in Italy, Alice gladly accepts. 

Babetta’s body is telling her that she’s coming to the end of her days, although she doesn’t feel ready for it. She has spent a lifetime tending her tiny garden on the Mediterranean coast and keeping the garden of the big house next door in good order and, with her own daughter long grown up, and her husband struggling with life, her life has fallen into a slow and gentle pattern. 

When Alice and Babetta meet they are drawn together by their shared love of cooking and food, despite not speaking a word of each other’s language. In the heat of a Mediterranean summer love affairs begin, friendships crumble and the lives of the women are changed. 

The story of two women, at either ends of their lives, who meet at a crumbling Italian villa tucked into the cliffs above the pounding sea, it’s a novel about what we run from, and the places that make us stop and reconsider. Drenched in sunshine, it’s about friendship and growing up, food and love. 

A recipe for life should be a simple thing: love and happiness, family, friends and a little food. But life is rarely straightforward...Alice wants to make the most of life - after all, she knows how fragile it can be - and knows she never feels more alive than when she's cooking. But life's lessons are not learnt easily. RECIPE FOR LIFE is a novel about discovering how life never stops surprising us, and about how, with a little love and courage, its flavours can be richer than we ever imagined.


  1. Great review! I've never read this author, but have been meaning to try one of her books soon. Now I know which one to start with! It sounds like such a lovely story.

  2. Actually its would be good to read A Summer at the Villa Rosa first published as The Gypsy Tearoom first as it is set in the same town with a young version of the mother of two of the Italian boys and the house that is the focus in Italy. I am sure it will be just as good and I am keen to read it now.