2 February 2015

Review: The Wrong Girl

The Wrong Girl
The Wrong Girl by Zoe Foster

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Fun and very easy to read, I really wanted to like Foster's writing efforts. But I just can't move past how terribly bland the writing is.

I love a good hit of chick lit every now and then (Ok, nearly every second book I read...) and always try to consider them in comparison with other chick lit because there is no point comparing them to anything else. So, Monica McInerney and Nora Roberts are the gold standard. Their prose is nothing special, but they do have an engaging way of writing that makes you feel things. I just didn't get anything from Foster. Which is a shame because the plot is decent enough and the characters are both likeable and believable (though Lily and Simone's friendship did puzzle me a little - her friendship with Alice made far more sense and should have been given more time). The writing is just bland, rushed and uninspired. Perhaps reading it straight after a McInerney effort didn't help matters, even if I thought that had not been a best effort either.

I must admit that while this book (and Foster's others) have been on my radar for some time I have never been tempted to pick one up and I actually won this copy at the launch of Kindling: A Writer's Edit Anthology. I think I will give the others a chance though, because this book wasn't a complete flop.

View all my reviews

Review: Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen

Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen
Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen by Laurie Colwin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I read this because it was recommended by Nigella Lawson, and when she says something is good I trust that. And rightly so - I've never had a bad recipe from her, and this book is a truly wonderful read. Lawson said of this book: "Laurie Colwin writes about food with love, lightness and an elegant intimacy reminding us that cooking is about life, not recipes". And this to me perfectly sums up this book. It may be about food, but food is life.

When reading you feel welcomed into the writer's world. It is not the food itself that is important but the life we lead around it and the memories we create. It is not the incredible dinners Colwin remembers but the people that were their and the things that happened. The food, in this case, is a side dish to a wonderfully full (if short) life. I particularly enjoyed her recollections of her first forays into cooking in her minuscule one-room apartment (intriguingly titled 'Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant') and her appraisal of potato salad - which she beloveds, and I agree, can never be truly awful. These are honest, everyday food experience to which every reader can relate. This is not a pretentious food snob telling you with gusto about the time the perfected their signature dish, it is your friend telling you about that hilarious time they ruined a perfectly good red snapper trying to seduce their future husband.

There are recipes in this book, but I doubt I will cook any of them for this book has touched me in a way that goes far beyond mere recipes and delves into the real reasons we cook, speaking to the heart rather than our stomachs.

View all my reviews

Review: Nigella Express: Good Food, Fast

Nigella Express: Good Food, Fast
Nigella Express: Good Food, Fast by Nigella Lawson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the food I associate with Nigella, and it is the reason I love her and will always turn to her for advice, inspiration and solutions to every kitchen debacle. I may be biased in my admiration of her, but this book is wonderful regardless of any previous acquaintance with her recipes and conversational witter.

There is a speedy solution for every occasion and every appetite. All of it is essential to a well rounded kitchen repertoire I feel. From indulgent desserts such as chocolate pear pudding and a recipe for mincemeat squares that mean you won't miss mince pies at all, to simple meals like a chef's salad of lettuce, avocado and ham with a mustardy dressing and curry in a hurry is the ultimate frozen vegetable/store cupboard saviour. I kid you not when I say every occasion is covered - there is a recipe for pomegranate duck that would impress the most sophisticated of dinner party guests that can be whipped up in no time at all.

There are many cookbooks promising meals in 30 minutes, some as little as 15, but part of me doesn't trust these chefs whose skills are far beyond mine. Nigella though, has none of their training is all the better for it. When she says express, she means it and I trust that I can achieve it. These recipes appear realistic and I am undaunted by the task of cooking them.

And that's what makes this cookbook so perfect. Everything is a delightful combination of flavours, and within my reach. It is exactly what was missing from my cookbook collection.

View all my reviews