The Food of Love Cookery School (2013) is a 279 page novel written by Nicky Pellegrino, a half English half Italian author who currently resides in New Zealand. It is important to note that although I personally found this book entertaining to read, it wasn’t really an enthralling or captivating story.
In my personal opinion, I’ve never enjoyed books that jump around between too many characters because it makes it difficult for the reader to develop the personalities, and
it makes it difficult for the reader to get a good grasp on each individual personality in order to really enjoy them. It also makes it difficult to decipher favourites or foster a sense of identification between yourself or someone else you know, and that particular character (does anyone else do that?) For this reason, jumping back and forth between four different women and periodical chapters based on the male protagonist, Luca, bothered me a little bit.
The story was based in a Cookery School in Sicily, Southern Italy, run by an ex-photographer named Luca who is attempting to keep the recipes of his nonna alive by teaching them to tourists from all around the world. The four female protagonists are: Poppy, a recently divorced, mid 30’s, real estate agent who had signed up to the cooking course pre-dominantly so she could travel to Italy and research her own relatives who lived in Sicily before migrating to Australia. Valerie, a sweet late 50’s widow consumed by the grief of her second husband, trying to discover the joys of life without him. Tricia, a top London lawyer who is utterly bored with her husband and two children, she has a cynical attitude and embarked on the trip as a form of get away from her own mundane life, and Moll, a mother of two teenaged girls with an extreme passion and knowledge of food who spent her life savings on what she believes could be the trip of a lifetime.
Then there is Luca Amore the young, handsome, mysterious, Sicilian chef who opened the Food of Love Cookery school in commemoration of his Nonna. There are also many other sub characters such as Orsolina the fashionable, Italian beauty, daughter of chocolate maker Vincenzo Mazzara.
Positives & Negatives:
- Pellegrino does a phenomenal job of describing the locations, surroundings, events, and alllllll the amazing Italian food that they buy or cook. My mouth was watering every time she would begin to talk of a new dish that they were going to cook, or one that Luca was making. It was well researched, well described and really did a great job of making me feel like I wanted to holiday in the South of Italy.
- The story itself was creative and it flowed nicely, it seems like the perfect kind of novel to read when you are looking for something entertaining but not too deep or difficult to read. I’d say its the type of book you would throw in your handbag during a holiday.
- The end of the book includes a range of different recipes that are made or described during the book which is a plus because it did have me googling the recipe for “maltagliati”.
- As aforementioned, the novel jumped around too much between the characters which left little room for real character development and identification. We never knew the characters well and suddenly they would do an outrageous action which was unexpected and kind of make you dislike the character. None of them were really enjoyable or exciting people, except maybe Poppy who had much more of a storyline than any of the other women.
- The love story that begins to bloom is unrealistic, and as well, poorly developed. The characters are supposed to be there for two weeks and a full blown, loving relationship develops between two characters and you can’t really understand why they liked each other at all, or when they even had the chance to start feeling like that.
- Luca is a weak character and doesn’t really appear as the swarming heart throb that his character is intended to be. More so, Tricia is cynical and unpleasant and it seems unrealistic that the all the immoral actions she does are so easily accepted by all the other women.
- Valerie was really an unnecessary character and her chapters were often repetitive and had me feeling like I wanted to skip through her parts
All in all, I would rate the book 3/5 because although it wasn’t wildly boring, and I never really wanted to quit the book, I felt that there were too many characters and the story could have been much better had it just focused, for example, on Moll, Poppy and Luca, showing the juxtaposition of their lives. It would’ve been easier to read and the development of story lines would have flown nicely.
It wouldn’t be at the very top of the recommendation pile, but I would suggest you give it a go if you don’t have many other options.