When Holly Maguire was 16 years old, her grandmother Camilla Constantina, a Milanese fortune teller and the Love Goddess of Blue Crab Island, Maine, predicted that the love of Holly’s life would like sa cordula – lamb intestines tossed with peas, in butter sauce. When Holly serves the Italian dish to John Reardon, the man she believes to be the love of her life, and he finds it disgusting, she is somewhat prepared for the breakup that follows.
Holly reluctantly walks away from John and his daughter, Lizzie, and heads to Maine to be with her grandmother and help with her famed Italian cooking classes. However, Camilla dies shortly after Holly’s arrival, leaving her to sort out the ups and downs of life on her own. Holly not only has to learn to cook: she has to contend with the small town gossip, rivalries, the love lives and heartache of her cooking students and newfound friends, as well as her own part in a bit of a tangled romantic web.
Melissa Senate effectively portrays characters and the relationships between the generations of women in Holly’s family. The bonds between the Camilla and her daughter and granddaughter, and the relationship between Holly and her mother are beautifully captured and contrasted with one another. Senate also captures the anguish and joy, the angst and harmony, the anger and compassion of Holly and her new group of friends: Juliet, Holly’s childhood friend who is grieving her three-year-old daughter and alienating her husband; Tamara, who is looking for love; and Simon, who is trying to get used to partial custody of his daughter. Senate beautifully shows her characters not only learning how to cook but also how to master their own destiny.
The Love Goddess' Cooking School is a delicious treat sure to work its magic on the reader. Highly recommended.