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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

COMFORT FOOD a treat for Food Network fans

Author Kate Jacobs , who wrote the successful The Friday Night Knitting Club , moves to the culinary world in her new novel, Comfort Food. If you enjoy spending the evening watching Food TV, this novel is for you.

Augusta "Gus" has been hosting a successful TV show on the CookingChannel for years. She was widowed several years ago and left alone to raise her two young daughters Aimee, a global economic analyst, and Sabrina, an up-and-coming decorator. Gus is about to turn fifty years old when she receives news from her boss- the format of her show is going to be changed and she is getting a sexy young co-host, Carmen, a former Miss Spain.

Carmen appears to be a manipulative woman, gunning for Gus's job. Somehow, Gus's daughters, Sabrina's ex-fiance Troy, Gus's reclusive neighbor Hannah, and new chef Oliver all end up on the TV show, making for a crowded kitchen, with insults being tossed around the kitchen, along with the ingredients.

Gus has been told that if this doesn't work, she will be out of a job. So as she has always done, she rolls up her sleeves and is determined to make it work.

Jacobs writes interesting characters, and the family dynamic amongst Gus and her daughters is very real. They never dealt openly with the loss of their father and husband, never spoke about it. Eventually all of the repressed feelings come to light and must be dealt with. Many families handle situations like that in the same manner, and readers will identify with this. A passage that I found thought provoking was this:
"You don't know what it's like to struggle." Gus was getting angry; her cheeks were turning red. "I have done everything for you two."
"Maybe don't do so much, then," Aimee said quietly. "We may not have had your struggle, but we've had our own."

That sounds like a conversation many families could have.

All of the characters have strengths and weaknesses, they are three dimensional, and for the most part likable, just as most people are. Everyone is just trying to do their best to get what they want out of life. Gus meddles in her daughter's love life, Hannah is reclusive for a good reason, Troy wants to win Sabrina back, and Oliver has his eyes on romance; Jacobs manages to keep all of these plates spinning while the story unfolds.

Many people watch Food TV for the personalities as well as the food, and if you are one of them, you'll find Comfort Food a tasty treat. You get a bit of a backstage look at how those shows work, and for good measure, Jacobs gives the reader a few recipes mentioned in the story at the end of the book.

Rating 3.5 of 5 stars

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