The Lost Art of Mixing by Erica Bauermeister is a beautifully written book about several people whose lives cross and sometimes become intertwined. The story centers around Lillian and her restaurant. Oh, how I would like to go there. I felt like I could smell the food described throughout the book. Bauermeister’s writing is clear yet full of senses. I can grab in my mind what she is describing. I love that kind of writing.
This is a character driven novel; the plot is a little weak at times, but all the characters are well developed. There is lots of talk about life rituals–picking up an empty suitcase and walking around the block, being lifted up on a chair, etc.) that was completely harmless but made me squirm. I’m okay with traditions, but when they turn into rituals…well, I squirm.
I found it interesting that every single character had a background of absent parents. It was as if all of the characters were searching for that anchor they missed in their own families. I especially enjoyed the relationship between elderly Louise and young Chloe; they were a pair of unlikely roommates. Finnegan was a little bit unbelievable, but I can forgive that because he was delightful.
If you like Ann Tyler, or books that feel kind of introverted into the characters’ minds, give The Lost Art of Mixing a try. This is my first book by Bauermeister, but I will definitely read The School of Essential Ingredients as soon as I can get my hands on it. However, I have to mention that this book doesn’t exactly give any answers. I enjoy a book with a little more philosophy mixed in with all the questions. Or a really good plot. One or the other. =) But I enjoy this style of writing, and maybe you will, too.