The Perfect Recipe for Love and Friendship is a novel by New York Times best-selling author Shirley Jump. It focuses on the O’Bannon family – a mother and four grown daughters – as they work to rebuild broken connections in the aftermath of a tragedy.
Amy’s Rating: 2.5/5
I bought this on impulse, drawn in by the cover, the promise of secrets, and the focus on sisters, which I’m always a sucker for. It takes place primarily in a Bakery just outside of Boston, as my latest release has a similar setting and I enjoy exploring the different ways people can use similar themes.
Unfortunately, it just didn’t end up being my kind of book. The writing was fine, in some places actively good, but I didn’t connect with the O’Bannon family. This might be largely due to me having a very different background (the O’Bannons are an Irish Catholic family and my family is decidedly not) so instead of feeling compassion for many of their internal challenges, I felt frustrated.
I feel people who are more familiar with this culture may enjoy it more, and possibly recognize their own or their family’s struggles in the O’Bannons. However, I also feel the author had an opportunity to make the O’Bannon’s struggles more universal, which she did not take.
My biggest critique of the writing was that it was over-described. There were many beautiful descriptions throughout the book that made me feel like I was right there on the outskirts of Boston. I really enjoyed this, especially since creating a feeling of place is something I struggle with as a writer myself. But, in the end, the book ended up being almost entirely description, with very few events happening to move the plot forward, save a couple tumultuous family dinners. I also felt the mother’s character arc, in particular, was over-explained, with the same internal struggles described to the reader again and again.
Overall, I did not mind this book, I just felt I wasn’t the right reader for it. There was some solid humor and wonderful descriptions of baked goods. I feel someone looking for more of what this book has to offer would enjoy it very much.
For more from Shirley Jump or to buy The Perfect Recipe for Love and Friendship visit her website.
About the Reviewer
Amy Spitzfaden loves reading all things real-world. From contemporary to chick-lit, to mystery, she enjoys seeing all the crazy things that could happen on this earth and the way people overcome their unique and universal struggles. While she’s a sucker for a happy ending, she considers anything with growth and real emotion worth reading. Sometimes complicated endings are the best!
Amy is the author of Untold and Fingerprinted Hearts, with her third novel It’s Funny You Mentioned Chloe… coming soon. In her spare time, she likes to drink tea, take baths, and contemplate all the ways human relationships are just really freaking weird. For more about Amy check out her website.