The Secret Ingredient, a review by Shelley

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Sue Heath

HarperCollins UK | One More Chapter
January 18th, 2024
352 Pages
Goodreads | Amazon

I thought this was going to be a melancholy story because all of the characters have had some truly bad experiences…spouses leaving, getting older, illness and death. At times they felt sorry for themselves and you expect the book to be mostly a sad one but trust me it isn’t. I can’t count the many times I found myself smiling at a passage where a character decides this is no way to live and wants to get on with their life. It’s okay to be sad and/or depressed when we lose someone but to wallow in it or not get any help is never a good idea and I loved reading about people finding their strength in community. Each of these people deals with their loss differently and that is true in real life as well.

The book is very character-driven and I enjoyed the fact that it has chapters from each character’s point of view. They support and help each other in their healing and become a sort of family. I felt like I was hanging out in the neighbourhood with them. They’re certainly people I would like to be friends with. I don’t know if I’d feel confident enough to cook for a chef though!

This story showcases how food can bring people together and how the different senses can trigger memories. There are plenty of recipes in the book and the food sounds so delicious I can’t wait to try more of it. The one recipe I did try was sugar lemon pancakes. I made them New Year’s Day for brunch. Lemon is one of my favourite flavours so I had to make them. They were really good and my experience was much better than Kate’s.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the Advance Readers Copy.

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