Thursday, August 11, 2011

Review: Angelina's Bachelors by Brian O'Reilly

Married for only five years, Angelina and Frank have a loving and solid marriage. They work hard at their jobs and are close to friends and family. Their future looks to be one of happiness and contentment. But then Frank dies suddenly and Angelina, still quite a young woman, must go on without him. As if she hasn't suffered enough, immediately following Frank's death, she loses her job. In a coping strategy, she cooks up all the food in her home, despite having a plethora of casseroles and dishes galore from well meaning friends and neighbors after the funeral. Rather than waste the food, she delivers it to grateful folks around the neighborhood. And this isn't just any food, Angelina is a very accomplished amateur cook, a gourmet really. It is through her cooking that Angelina will find a way through her grief.

Not long after offering her creations to neighbors, Angelina finds one neighbor's bachelor brother on her doorstep offering to pay her to feed him breakfast and dinner 6 days a week. Basil is not the only one willing to pay for Angelina's tasty home-cooked concoctions. Soon she is cooking for a diverse group of men, trying new recipes out on them, figuring out what sorts of things each likes to eat, and finding her way back to a new sort of happiness. The bachelors span all ages and all offer Angelina their friendship and support (and empty stomachs to be filled) as she comes to terms with the Frank-shaped hole in her life.

O'Reilly has created a charming and sweet tale complete with recipes developed by wife Virginia. He has done a good job evoking the tightly knit community of South Philadelphia and captured the ethnic quirks of the Italians living there. Reading some of the descriptions, I was transported to my late grandmother's row home, enjoying the memories this triggered. The plot is fairly predictable in this gentle food-centered tale. Recipes are sprinkled throughout the chapters within the text itself, running the risk of pulling the reader out of the story, necessitating a re-immersion into the storyline after each one. It would probably have been stronger had the recipes simply followed each chapter rather than splitting them. But the premise of the book is a good one and the characters are all appealing. Not quite a stick to your ribs hearty lasagne of an offering, this is a fun and warming sort of book that will likely have you salivating at some point.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy of the book to review.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a book that would make me hungry! The premise definitely sounds interesting - if I see it around I may have to pick it up.


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