Breakfast in Bed by Eleanor Moran
|Breakfast in Bed by Eleanor Moran
|Category: Women's Fiction
|Reviewer: Zoe Morris
|Summary: Set in a busy restaurant kitchen, this is a readable bit of chick lit that sadly lacks the delicious food descriptions you might expect, unless you're a true Bunny Boiler.
|Date: July 2011
Amber is a chef in the throes of a sticky divorce who has quite enough on her plate (and the plates of her customers) without the terror of working for a wunderkind-slash-horrendous-dictator celebrity chef. So, because this is chick lit and the inevitable is, well, inevitable, that's just where she finds herself, landing a new job in the kitchen of Oscar Retford.
The book is well researched, or at least appears that way to the lay reader, and I learnt a lot about kitchen life from it. Unfortunately the descriptions of the food were less appetizing and seemed horribly wrong for the flitty genre of chick lit, complete with graphic pictures of porcine snouts and poor little bunnies ready to be skinned. It wasn't just my vegetarian sensibilities that objected I'm sure.
The book morphs into the familiar tale of a woman torn between two men, and pinging from work commitments to friendship commitments and back again. In this case the trouser-shaped offerings are utterly predictable – hot-tempered Oscar and her soon to be ex husband Dom – but what was less obvious was why the former would even be interested in her. She talks about her figure in a self-depreciating manner, and her behavior in the kitchen never gets much better than wishy washy, from her approach to dealing with staff conflicts to her insistence on, but inability to deliver, innovative vegetarian options on the menu. It seemed like a paltry attempt to endear herself to the non-meat-eating readers but it didn't work.
Characters are a funny thing, and even when the book is clearly set up so you know who you are supposed to be rooting for, the writing can sometimes rub you up the wrong way and make someone else more appealing. My mother, borrowing this after me, took a shine to the plain and pedantic Marcia while I grew fond of Oscar, proving once again that some girls just love a bad boy. I also wanted to know more about evil ex-wife Lydia, but she wasn't fleshed out at all, almost as if Amber knew we might like her a bit too much if we knew anything about her. There were also clear parallels between the characters and well known names, from the Sunday Times reviewer being a thinly veiled version of AA Gill (whose column I adore) to Oscar having Heston Blumental's obsession with blood combined with Gordon Ramsey's temper.
I kept reading and didn't struggle to keep up with the writing, so for that reason would recommend it as an easy read with only a few oddities (she harps on about hailing from Stockport, a city I know well, but makes no distinct references to it even when she visits, so a fictional hometown would have worked just as well; the title has absolutely no bearing whatsoever to the story, and the blurb on the back reads as if it could refer to another story). But, as for whether I would want to read it again, I'd have to say probably not, unless I could physically climb into the pages and give Amber a good hard slap.
In the end, I read it all without giving up, and it's only really when pondering for review purposes that I started to form a proper opinion of it, as it was quite forgettable and didn't leave a lasting impression on me. If I'm being kind, I'd say I liked it but I didn't love it. If I'm being mean, I'd say wait until it hits the charity shop shelves, because that's where it's headed.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending us this book.
For carnivorous food descriptions that even vegetarians can get on board with, The Food of Love by Anthony Capella is a long-time favourite, and The Gypsy Tearoom by Nicky Pellegrino also scores highly, especially in terms of those delicious descriptions.
You can read more book reviews or buy Breakfast in Bed by Eleanor Moran at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
You can read more book reviews or buy Breakfast in Bed by Eleanor Moran at Amazon.com.
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