The Lost Recipe for Happiness

( 54 )

Overview

This beautiful story that explores the healing power of food, love and self-forgiveness will appeal to fans of Luanne Rice and Barbara Samuel.

When Elena Alvarez is offered her dream job of executive chef at an upscale Aspen restaurant, she quickly accepts. But beneath her excitement about this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, Elena is haunted by tragic memories of a car accident that killed those closest to her twenty years ago, and the ghosts...
See more details below
Available through our Marketplace sellers.
Other sellers (Audiobook)
  • All (3) from $7.25   
  • Used (3) from $7.25   
Close
Sort by
Page 1 of 1
Showing All
Note: Marketplace items are not eligible for any BN.com coupons and promotions
$7.25
Seller since 2013

Feedback rating:

(21)

Condition:

New — never opened or used in original packaging.

Like New — packaging may have been opened. A "Like New" item is suitable to give as a gift.

Very Good — may have minor signs of wear on packaging but item works perfectly and has no damage.

Good — item is in good condition but packaging may have signs of shelf wear/aging or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Acceptable — item is in working order but may show signs of wear such as scratches or torn packaging. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Used — An item that has been opened and may show signs of wear. All specific defects should be noted in the Comments section associated with each item.

Refurbished — A used item that has been renewed or updated and verified to be in proper working condition. Not necessarily completed by the original manufacturer.

Good
Complete... Good PLEASE READ: LIBRARY SET, HAS LIBRARY TAG, LIGHT USE, CDS EXTRA CLEAN, COMES IN NICE HEAVY DUTY CASE..........CDX/61.

Ships from: Bay, AR

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$10.96
Seller since 2009

Feedback rating:

(624)

Condition: Good
former library copy with library markings on case, artwork and disks, play side clean and shiny. Shipped with delivery confirmation.Please select Expedited shipping for faster ... delivery. Read more Show Less

Ships from: Brunswick, OH

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
$16.61
Seller since 2014

Feedback rating:

(16)

Condition: Very Good
Very good Audio Book-The case shows limited signs of wear, as may the cover art, liner notes and inclusions. Well cared for discs that have been listened to, but remains in ... great condition and play perfectly. This is a ex library book, stickers and markings accordingly. 100% satisfaction quaranteed. Read more Show Less

Ships from: Old Bridge, NJ

Usually ships in 1-2 business days

  • Canadian
  • International
  • Standard, 48 States
  • Standard (AK, HI)
  • Express, 48 States
  • Express (AK, HI)
Page 1 of 1
Showing All
Close
Sort by
Lost Recipe for Happiness

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK Study
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$11.99
BN.com price
This digital version does not exactly match the physical book displayed here.

Overview

This beautiful story that explores the healing power of food, love and self-forgiveness will appeal to fans of Luanne Rice and Barbara Samuel.

When Elena Alvarez is offered her dream job of executive chef at an upscale Aspen restaurant, she quickly accepts. But beneath her excitement about this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, Elena is haunted by tragic memories of a car accident that killed those closest to her twenty years ago, and the ghosts from the past that follow her wherever she goes. As she forges new friendships and creates enticing cuisine in her new surroundings, she begins to place her trust in others, and finally learns to confront her past, accept love, and truly heal.

From the Compact Disc edition.

2010 RITA Winner for Best Novel with Strong Romantic Elements

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Twenty years ago, Elena Alvarez, the chef heroine of O'Neal's bland kitchen romance, was the sole survivor of a car accident that left her badly scarred and haunted by the sister and boyfriend she lost in the crash. Attempting to escape the specter of the accident and buoyed by her love of cooking, Elena drifted to culinary school in Europe and eventually ends up at an upscale Vancouver restaurant, where her passion and skills capture the attention of celebrity restaurateur Julian Liswood, who hires her as the executive chef of a new restaurant he is opening in Aspen, Colo. Elena relishes the opportunity, even as she recognizes the potential disasters, both romantic and job-related, inherent in the feelings she has for her boss. As the new endeavor finds its footing in Aspen's restaurant scene, she, too, begins to find a home. Unfortunately, O'Neal doesn't bring anything new to an already busy subgenre: the plot is formulaic, the prose is tepid and her main character is too narrowly drawn to have much appeal.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
From the Publisher
"As dark and deep and sweet as chocolate...I wanted to live in this book." —Sarah Addison Allen, New York Times bestselling author

“A delectable banquet for the reader, celebrating the things that matter most–family, friendship, food, and the healing power of love.” —Susan Wiggs, New York Times bestselling author

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781415954478
  • Publisher: Random House Audio Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 1/1/2009
  • Format: CD

Meet the Author

Barbara O’Neal fell in love with food and restaurants at the age of fifteen, when she landed a job in a Greek café and served baklava for the first time. She sold her first novel in her twenties, and has also published under the names Barbara Samuel and Ruth Wind. Since then she has won a plethora of awards, including two Colorado Book Awards and six prestigious RITAs, including one for The Lost Recipe for Happiness. Her novels have been widely published in Europe and Australia, and she travels all over the world, presenting workshops, hiking hundreds of miles, and, of course, eating. She lives with her partner, a British endurance athlete, and their collection of cats and dogs, in Colorado Springs.

Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Elena had been expecting Dmitri for more than an hour when he finally stormed through the back door of the Blue Turtle, the Vancouver restaurant where they both worked.

She'd come in early, as was her habit, to cook in the agreeable quiet of the Sunday morning kitchen, when the young apprentices and line cooks and dishwashers were all still abed after their Saturday night revelries. Her only companion was Luis, the forty-something El Salvadorian commis, who stirred his stockpots with a hand so brown and squat it looked like a hand balloon. He sang cheerfully under his breath, a bloody old Spanish folk song about a conquistador taking revenge on his enemy. It made Elena think of nights at the VFW when she was eleven or twelve, drinking Cokes while everyone danced the two-step. No doubt it made Luis think of bodegas back home.

Humming tunelessly along with him, Elena stood at the stove, stirring pale pink shallots and yellow onions with a long wooden spoon, thinking of the things she needed to check for service today. She thought of conquistadores and the plate armor they'd worn to protect themselves from arrows.
Mainly, she thought of Dmitri, who had betrayed her.

Her whole body ached this morning, back and hips from the old injuries, shoulders and neck from trying to erect the armor she had to assemble afresh each and every day, finely honed plates of sharp arrogance and bad language beneath which she—the secret and guarded Elena—could hide. She rolled her shoulder blades down her back, reminded herself to stand tall.

Shake it off.

When the onions were nearly done, she crushed garlic with the flat of her knife, and was about to scrape it into the mix when Dmitri burst through the back door. Hearing his fury in the slam of the door, she pulled the pan off the fire and turned to meet his anger.

Long and lean, with severe planes in his beautiful Russian face, he strode through the kitchen and flung a newspaper down on the counter. She turned off the burner and wiped her hands.

The paper was turned to the front page of the Lifestyle section, and featured a photo taken two weeks before. Of Elena, dressed in chef's whites at the end of a shift, long blonde hair pulled back from her face beneath the bright scarves she had adopted as her trademark. She lifted a glass of wine to the camera with a crooked smile and a saucy cock of a brow. It was a good photo, she thought again. It made her look younger than her thirty-eight years, sexier, charming. The headline read:

STANDING UP TO THE HEAT
BLUE TURTLE CHEF SAYS LIFE AS A FEMALE IN
THE KITCHEN IS NOT EASY, BUT WORTH IT

"I saw it," she said mildly.

"You are fired."

"What?" Her head jerked up. "Come on, Dmitri. It's not my fault she liked me better than you. And you're right there in the first paragraph anyway!"

"It is my kitchen. Your focus should have been on the restaurant, on the menu. Not on yourself."

"It is not your kitchen!" she said, slamming her knife down on the counter. "You have the title of chef, but you know as well as I do that we built this menu and this kitchen together. It's as much mine as it is yours."

"Is it?" He raised his index finger. "One question, hmm?" When he got angry or excited or passionate, his speech slipped into the Russian accent he'd labored over many years to lose. "Whose name is on that door?"

She wiped her hands, heat in her throat. "Yours."

He grabbed the paper, slapped it with the fingers of his other hand. It sounded like a gunshot. "And where is the chef of the Blue Turtle in the article?" His eyes, the color of cognac, burned with a yellow heat. "Hmm?"

"Isn't it supposed to be about the restaurant?"

He gave her a withering look. The restaurant did not belong to him. The kitchen did.

"You told me to talk to her." Elena shrugged. "I talked."

A long, simmering silence hung between them, filled with the scent of onions and bruised garlic and the New Mexican chiles she'd asked to have imported. Feigning disdain for his tantrum, she turned the burner back off, pulled the pan back to the fire, and scraped the garlic into it. The back of her neck burned with satisfaction, with worry and loss, with desire. She could smell him over the food, a heady mix of sweat and spices, cigarettes and sex, which he'd not had with her. Beneath her armor, her flesh wept.

"It was revenge, Elena."

Methodically, she swirled the garlic into the butter, and put the spoon down. Met his eyes.
The minute the reporter had come through the doors with her old-school feminist hair—steely, frizzled salt and pepper—Elena had known she had a chance to get back at Dmitri.

And more, she'd earned it. Not only had he seized the glory from their joint effort to create the menu and the environment of the Blue Turtle, but two months ago, he'd moved out of their shared apartment to live with a girl with breasts like fried eggs and the guileless hero worship only a twenty-three-year-old CIA graduate could afford.

That would be the Culinary Institute of America, not the Central Intelligence Agency.

The garlic could not be neglected. Elena stirred in fire-roasted Anaheim chiles, letting them warm slowly. The scent had zest, dampness, appetite to it. Even Dmitri could not resist bending toward it, inhaling it. She looked at the top of his head, the thick hair.

Looked away.

The interview might have started as revenge, but it had become something more as Elena let herself open up to the reporter, her sharp eyes, her sympathy. "She was a feminist, Dmitri," she said in the calm voice she had cultivated, "a woman who wanted to do a story about a woman in a man's world." She adjusted the flame the tiniest bit. "I gave it to her. And it worked—the restaurant is on the front page of the Lifestyle section."

"You're fired," he said, punching the air with a finger.

She rolled her eyes. "Don't be ridiculous."

"Oh, I assure you, I am not. When I come back here in an hour, I want you gone, not a trace."

"Dmitri!"

He turned, crisp as a Cossack, and marched out of the kitchen.

Automatically, Elena pulled the skillet from the burner and stared after him, pursing her lips. He'd fired her in the past, when they'd had one of their spectacular fights, only to call an hour or a day later to beg forgiveness. He needed her, Elena knew. More than he had sense to realize.

And he would likely calm down this time, too. Call later and beg her to come back.

Luis, who had pretended not to watch the scene unfolding, tsked.

Elena, embarrassed, shook her head. "He'll get over it."

"Si."

But there was, suddenly, weariness in her. Too many fights, too many late nights spent trying to fix whatever it was that had gone wrong. She felt the exhaustion at the base of her neck, along the backs of her eyes. She lacked the energy to go another round with him. As much as she hated to start over—again!—this was broken. It was time to admit it.

She should never have begun. From the moment of their first meeting, she'd known that he was dangerous to her, a woman in a man's world. For well over a year, she had resisted him, sticking to her unbroken rule to never sleep with a man who had power over her, and Dmitri was even more dangerous than most, a chef with a Russian accent and the mouth of a rock star, a man with that intelligent, amoral twinkle in his eye.

But he pursued her, relentlessly, and Elena had fallen. Fallen to his genius as much as his beauty, fallen to his supposedly undying adoration of her, the mark of a man who lived on his charm.

Now she would pay the price. This silent Sunday morning, she folded her apron and put it on the pass-out bar, then went to the staff room, changed from her chef's whites and clogs into jeans and a long-sleeved shirt tie-dyed in soft pink and orange, with tiny dancing skeletons on it. A gift from one of her sisters last Christmas, to remind her of home. Packed everything from her locker into the duffel she carried to and fro, and finally went out to the dining room for one last look.

The Blue Turtle had been her home for three years, the menu a loving union of Dmitri's old-school French methods and Elena's Santa Fe roots. Vancouverites, adventurous eaters that they were, adored the exotic fusion. The restaurant was a success in a very crowded market, and was attracting international press attention.

This was her home, not some faraway town. A blister of fury zapped from the base of her spine through the top of her head. Bastard. How dare he banish her like this?

Luis raised his chin. "Vaya con Dios."

Elena nodded. Hiking the duffel over her shoulder, she swallowed the hollow sense of loss and headed out to the softness of an early Vancouver morning. For a long moment, she stood there on the sidewalk with a hole in her chest, trying to think what to do.

How depressing to lose yet another home. Another and another and another. She had grown fond of this one, had thought perhaps it might be the one place. Her place.

Now what?

Across the street, English Bay lay like a mirror in the fresh opalescence of morning. A storm gathered in the distant west, sending a gust of rain-scented wind over her face. She shook loose the hair on her shoulders, and tried to bring her mind to something practical. What could she have for breakfast? There was some fresh spinach, perhaps a hunk of cheese, some pear salad left from the night before.

A man suddenly stepped out of the doorway, and, startled, Elena took a step backward to let him pass. There was an air of confidence about him, something both severe and sensual. Very dark glasses hid his eyes. A thin, hip goatee circled his mouth. She admired the spotlessness of his black jacket, the jeans he wore casually beneath it. Strong thighs, she noticed, relieved to discover Dmitri had not entirely killed her pleasure in the opposite sex.

The man gave her a nod. "Good morning."

She inclined her head. A silk scarf, ribboned with faint orange and pink stripes, looped around his neck. Elegant. Smart. Maybe he was French. "Bonjour," she said with a faint smile.

To her surprise, he paused. "Are you Elena Alvarez?"

"Who wants to know?"

"Sorry," he said, tugging off his hat and sunglasses in a single fluid gesture. He had the uncanny grace and coloring of something supernatural—a vampire, perhaps. Tumbles of black hair fell down on a pale, finely boned face. "I'm Julian Liswood."

"Ah." The owner of the restaurant. He carried a newspaper under his arm—he must have seen the article. Elena brushed her hands together—finished. "Dmitri already fired me, so don't bother."

His lips, that only pool of color in his face, quirked. "On the contrary. I came to Vancouver to speak with you. The commis in there told me you had just left. Do you have a few minutes?"

"Sure."

He studied her face. "You're quite blonde," he commented. "For someone named Alvarez."

"Does that figure into the discussion?"

A flash of a smile crossed his mouth. "No."

Elena waited. He wasn't what she'd always imagined, either. The face was not beautiful—that high-bridged nose and sharp cheekbones—but the hair was good. His eyes were steady and very dark and intelligent. It was hard to tell how old he was, but she knew he'd made his first movie when she was in high school. A decade older than she? He didn't look it. Behind them a wind swept closer, bringing with it the sound of rain.

"Will you let me buy you breakfast?" he asked. "We'll talk."

"I'm a chef, as it happens, and my apartment is not far away." She hoped he would offer her a job. "Why don't I cook instead?"

"Sadly, I do not have enough time. I have to fly to LA this morning to pick up my daughter."

"Then by all means, let's go to the Sylvia." It was an agreeable and famous old hotel.

They walked there beneath a sky that grew darker by the moment, heavy with rain. He moved with such effortless, long strides that Elena looked at his feet to see if he was actually touching the sidewalk. She felt a little dizzy, overwhelmed, and tried to think of something to say. "Don't you have a movie out right now?"

"It's just gone to DVD." He looked sideways at her. "Are you a horror fan?"

"Not really. I like ghost stories, but the slasher flicks are too violent for me, honestly."

"I prefer ghost stories," he said, pulling open the door.

She looked at him. "Why don't you make more of them, then?"

"The others are in fashion." He tucked his hat in his pocket. "They finance my smaller projects."

A man in a white shirt and white tie came hustling forward and seated them at a table by the windows. Elena ordered tea and milk; Mr. Liswood, coffee. In the corner, she saw a cluster of uniformed staff whispering, looking their way. She nodded toward them. "You've caused a stir."
He skimmed the jacket from his shoulders. "I don't think it's me."

A woman held up the newspaper and pointed to the picture. She waved, smiling. "Oh," Elena said, pleased. She waved back.

"Your first taste of fame?"

She thought of long ago, the New Mexico newspapers. But that had been more notoriety than fame, so dark and heavy she'd had to flee to escape it. "In a way," she said, then shifted her attention back to him. "But you're no stranger to it, are you?"

"I am not usually recognized for myself," he said, "but for the wives I have unwisely collected."

His rueful straightforwardness disarmed her, and Elena laughed, the sound shaking loose from some rusty place in her chest. His wives were tabloid fodder, starlets who began their careers in the teen slasher flicks that had made him his fortune. Restaurants were a sideline. Celebrity owners were not always the most adept, but Julian Liswood had earned the respect of the press and—harder to capture—his workforce. The Blue Turtle was the third he'd opened to spectacular success.

Elena said, "They have been rather beautiful wives, as I recall."

"Well, you know what they say: never marry a girl prettier than you."

She thought, with a pang, of Dmitri. "Been there."

"Hard to imagine."

"Oh, believe me—" She almost said, there have been so many men, but that would have been too frank. Outside, rain began to splat against the window. She shivered slightly. Pulling her cup toward her, she said, "Now, tell me, Mr. Liswood, what do you have in mind?"

"Please call me Julian."

"I'll try. Julian."

He took his time, stirring a lump of rough brown sugar into his coffee with a tiny spoon. His oval nails were manicured, and she wondered what kind of man had time for something like that. But of course, in his world, the veneer of such details would be required. She envisioned a cocktail party sparkling with beautiful people, manned by obsequious servers. It made her nervous.

Read More Show Less

Interviews & Essays

THE MAGIC OF RESTAURANTS
by Barbara O'Neal

I fell headlong in love with restaurants at the age of eight, when my grandfather, a charming rascal who looked very like Clark Gable, bought a diner in Temecula, California. He'd never run one, but then he'd never had a pharmacy, either, and he'd done that in Fort Worth. None of us had ever even been to California. My grandmother was mad about it for at least ten years, but she moved with him and together they operated Ed's Kitchen.

The restaurant sat at the bottom of a hill, right on the main drag through town. We had to walk down there from my grandmother's house. The land was rural, with horses and avocado groves along the way, and grass so tall we played hide and seek in it. My grandmother waited tables, and so did my mother for a time. They were both pretty and earned good tips.

A counter filled the center of the dining room, with stools that spun and had a little ring of chrome around the seat. I sat on them, swinging my legs, and watched my grandfather, looking swarthy in chef whites, cooking at the grill with a dark curl falling rakishly on his forehead. We children were not allowed in the kitchen, so this was as close as I ever got. On the counter sat a pie safe, three pies high, and although it was rare indeed that we ever got to eat any, I admired them daily: pale apples or jewel-colored berries spilling out of a buttery crust; pecans in tidy circle patterns over the clear middle. Pie remains my extravagance of choice, the wickedness I will most likely choose from a desert menu.

Everything about Ed's Kitchen was enchanting: the customers and the bustle, the shouts of orders, the practically visible fragrance of coffee brewing. My mother shined. She was happy in that restaurant. My grandmother laughed when men flirted with her, practically the only time she ever did in those years.

My father pined for his mountains, so we moved back to Colorado, and I didn't think about restaurants again until I was sixteen and looking for a job. The local mall had a Greek-run sandwich, ice cream and chocolatiers called Michelle's. The waitresses all wore red or blue velvet caps with gold braiding and shiny black nylon uniforms with a white flounce at the neck. That hat was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen, as medieval as Juliet, and I knew my long blonde hair would look fantastic beneath it. They didn't need help when I began to apply, and I had no experience, but I was relentless-every week I went back to ask about my application until the manager finally gave in and hired me.

From the first day, I was smitten. Smitten by the presentation of a single slice of baklava, dripping with honey; by the soda fountain and the grill; smitten by Greek music playing in the background, and the companionable after-hours rituals of cleaning up. I loved my white nylon apron, and pockets heavy with tips and the smell of industrial dishwasher detergent. I never, ever let a coffee cup go empty because my grandpa told me people will forgive you for anything if they have enough coffee. It tends to be true.

Every restaurant is its own country, with it's politics and structure, internal strife and power plays. After three years in the Old World land of Michelle's, I landed in a high-end Mexican restaurant where I fell under the enchantment of chiles. Here, the honey was drizzled over sopapillas. Here, we had to take turns crushing the giant bags of hot red chiles that came in from New Mexico, learning how to avoid blistered fingers and seared sinuses. To chase away a virus, we ate the hottest green chile stew we could bear. It was at Papa Felipe's that I learned to drink tequila, and where the doe-eyed cook from Chihuahua would send the starving students home with leftover sopapillas. In my long sojourn there, I gathered scars all over my hands from burns and broken plates and various other mishaps. It's the way it goes.

There were other restaurants, placed I visited briefly, and each of them taught me something. There was the troubled seafood place, popular with the aging yacht club set, where I learned to make an old fashioned by crushing a cherry and an orange in the bottom of a highball glass with a teaspoon of sugar. There was the corporate regime of a chain restaurant that served a million varieties of hamburgers that taught me how to manage a rush. Others, too fleeting to recall.

All of them turned me into a writer in love with food and all the marvelous details that go into creating dishes, menus, restaurants, service. Food, like love and sex and children, is one of the most powerful cornerstones in our lives, and a great dish is a moment of pure love, prepared, offered, accepted and devoured.

And so The Lost Recipe for Happiness was born. Elena Alvarez is not me, though all of our characters are born of us in some way. She is the chef I would be if I were braver--brilliant and intuitive, fierce and kind. After a terrible accident when she was a teenager, Elena found her salvation in restaurants, and she's battled her way to the top of the game as a chef who has lived and worked all over the world. Now, she has an opportunity to build her own kitchen and menu and staff, starting over in a failed restaurant in Aspen with an entire cast of characters who will, perhaps become a family she can, at last, call her own.

As I wrote, I cooked and cooked, learning the landscape of Elena's world as I tested recipes and fed my beloved tidbits and scowled over things that didn't work. As I cooked, a book was born and now comes to you. Perhaps you'll read and cook, cook and read. Bon appetit!

Top Ten Favorite Foods

1. Root beer floats with my grandmother at the A&W Root Beer. The long spoons, the milky suds, the sugary brown crystals on top of the ice cream, and my grandmother across the table, telling a story.

2. Roast rabbit, in a very small southern Italian village. I was not about to eat something so cute and fluffy, something you could cuddle, but the woman serving us insisted that I would mourn forever if I didn't try it. It arrived with chicory and mashed fava beans and red wine. The chicory was too bitter for my tastes, but the rabbit tasted like summer, like a sunny grassy field. Rich and deep, broad and salty, a flavor that fills your whole mouth.

3. Goat cheese, fresh tomatoes, and cucumbers stuffed into a baguette; lunch on a hiking tour in the French alps. The air smelled of the wild thyme we had crushed beneath our boots.

4. Pork and avocado burritos at Los Tres, a family business tucked into a corner of the food court of the Pueblo, Colorado mall, everything served on paper plates with plastic spoons by the wife and the cousins and the sisters and brothers while a television plays talk shows in the corner. Local green chiles and slippery, mushy chunks of avocado mixed with slow roasted pork, and long-simmered, very spicy chile. It also smells heavenly.

5. Homemade sausage gravy served over his secret recipe buttermilk biscuits, as made by my children's father every Sunday through their young years.

6. A picnic served on the sidelines of a grassy field where Indian computer geeks played cricket. The day was cloudy, the game incomprehensible, but my new boyfriend-who did not cook at all-had assembled the offering to show me what an English-style picnic would look like. There were dozens of dishes, each individually set out in its own container, crisp long Romaine lettuce leaves and sliced tomatoes and onions, tidy slices of bread and chunky Branston pickle and sliced meats and ginger beer. It started to rain, but my British partner was prepared for that, too, and we ate it all under a giant umbrella, watching cricket and eating cold cuts and shivering companionably in the damp.

7. Pears. All pears, even tinny-tasting canned pears in heavy syrup, but especially brown bosc pears straight out of the orchards.

8. A bagel smeared with Marmite and a hot cup of sweet milky tea poured from a thermos, served at the summit of Pikes Peak by the same slightly batty Brit. We had just survived a lightning storm and hours of hail while manning a water station during the Pikes Peak Ascent, an extreme trail run. Maybe the best meal I've ever eaten.

9. Bradon roast salmon with whiskey sauce, eaten on the freezing cold banks of Loch Fyne. I wasn't going to try it because someone force-fed me salmon from a can as a child and I hated it. Our guide gently suggested this might be a lot different. It tasted of peat and smoke and the great salt sea and the cold winds pouring down Highland slopes and the musky dark heart of Scotland.

10. My own tamales, in all their forms. It took me a long time to master them, and it is a gigantic undertaking, a whole day of cooking, and smelling spices, and cooking the duck or the pork to falling-apart tenderness, and spreading masa just right on husks, and tying them closed, and steaming them, and then waiting and waiting, and eating that very first one out of the pot, rolling it out steaming onto a plate and taking the first bite and knowing it was worth every second. Every second.

Read More Show Less

Reading Group Guide

1. What was your first impression of Elena as a character? What about Julian? How did your view of them change throughout the novel? In what ways did each of them surprise you?

2. Discuss the role of food and cooking In The Lost Recipe for Happiness. What did food mean to each of the characters? What meals left the strongest impression with you as a reader? What tastes were you reminded of? What do you think this added to the reading experience?

3. Consider the town of Aspen itself. It seems that each of the characters is there for a reason. What brings each of them to Aspen, and what keeps them there? Who do you think will stay, and who will eventually move on? Why is this a good setting for a book like this?

4. There are several secrets and betrayals in The Lost Recipe for Happiness. Was there any point where a secret, once revealed, shocked you? Were you surprised by any other character’s reaction to a revelation? How would you have reacted to each admission?

5. Why does Julian wait so long to disclose the truth about his screenplay to Elena? What does his reticence tell you about him?

6. Several times throughout the book, Elena and others discuss the three most memorable foods they’ve ever eaten. What are yours, and why?

7. Discuss the relationship between Patrick and Ivan. What do they see in each other? Do you think this is a relationship that will stand the test of time?

8. The Lost Recipe for Happiness is written mostly from Elena’s point of view, but we occasionally hear from the other characters as well. What did the chapters from Julian and Ivan’s perspective add to your understanding of the story?

9. As the child of an actress, Portia has some very real issues with her body image. Consider the argument she has with her father toward the end of Chapter 13. What did you think of her argument? Is it possible for an overweight woman to be truly successful? Is it easier for men in this sense?

10. Many of the characters in this novel have sustained some kind of damage–physical or emotional–from their childhood. In what ways does this manifest itself, and what does it take for each of them to move on?

11. Throughout The Lost Recipe for Happiness, there is discussion about the idea that each person has a soul mate. Do you think this is true in the world of this novel? What about in real life?

12. Elena carries some very real ghosts of her past along with her, as well as the metaphorical ghosts of her memories. How did you feel about the ghosts in the novel? What role did they play in Elena’s life? Do you think that Isobel will be back, or has she truly left Elena for good?

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 54 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(28)

4 Star

(18)

3 Star

(2)

2 Star

(5)

1 Star

(1)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 54 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 19, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A well-written story

    I have to admit when I first skimmed the book description, I thought the plot would be: girl breaks up with current boy, relocates to new city for a fresh start, meets new boy, not sure if she should get involved with new boy, ends up getting involved with new boy and they begin new relationship. Ok, so maybe The Lost Recipe for Happiness can be summed up that way. But honestly, it's so much more than that.

    Elena Alvarez is a complicated character, but extremely likable. She's haunted by her past and cannot rid herself of her tragic accident. She's left not only with physical pain from the car accident, but immense survivor's guilt. She's the lone survivor of a car accident that killed her high school boyfriend and two sisters.

    After the accident and a long period of physical therapy and healing, she left her hometown and explored her passion for cooking. Training in the best restaurants prepared her to become chef of her kitchen. While mastering the art of cooking, Elena simultaneously distanced herself from intimate relationships. Yes, she had plenty of boyfriends, however she never allowed them in, always keeping them at arm's reach. Of course this changes when she meets Julian.

    Julian Liswood is a single father with several marriages under his belt. He's trying to raise his teenage daughter the best he can while maintaining his professional life. He's immediately smitten with Elena, but tries to keep their relationship purely professional. After all, he is her boss.

    Ms. O'Neal did an excellent job bringing these characters to life. The chapters are told from both Elena's and Julian's perspectives. The secondary characters round out the story with issues of their own that only contribute to the depth of the plot.

    If you're looking for something different, I suggest you pick up The Lost Recipe for Happiness. Elena is a character that you will root for and in the end you will walk away satisfied.

    4.5 Stars

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 22, 2009

    Food, Romance, Dogs Recipes..

    A great book, fun summer read with great Santa Fe style mex recipes...wonderful ....gave my copy away to a "cook"...hope they try the recipes and tell me if they are any good!! Enjoyed the story, mature characters, family resolutions...Liked it very much. I did buy the book because of the interesting cover but am very glad I did.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 8, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Great Book!!

    I love the way this was written, how she used recipes at the beginning of every chapter, as a preface, i found the plot a charactors, well written, and moving. The interaction and dialog is smooth and it's a great book for a book club!!

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 5, 2009

    A "Fresh" new story of delight!

    I really want a second novel to be made! I enjoyed escaping into the story. I'm not really fond of reading all together, but just by chance this book came outta nowhere in the store. It was probably the cover that intrigued me into getting it, but I'll never really know. I was only into a couple of pages that really got me wanting to purchase and keep the book all to myself. I love the relationship between Julian and Elena. These things don't really happen often, though I wish they did. And I'm at the point of my life where I need to choose a profession to be educated in. I had recently wanted to be a food critic but after reading this novel, I've considered become a chef or even become an owner of restaurants someday.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 10, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    A Scrumptious Read

    Barbara ONeal offers a scrumptious feast in The Lost Recipe for Happiness, a Bantam Discovery book. If you like food and love...and who doesn¿t... there¿s plenty to savor in this story of Elena Alvarez, a chef who must free herself from the ghosts of her past in order to secure her future. <BR/>Life got an early start in teaching Elena that nothing lasts forever. Abandoned by her single mom, she found a new home and new loves, only to have tragedy rip her away from them. When movie producer Julian Liswood offers her a second chance... at love and at carving her own name in culinary fame... Elena searches for signs and the strength to believe in a forever kind of love. <BR/>The Lost Recipe for Happiness offers terrific insights into the demanding world beyond the dining room¿s swinging doors as Elena and her staff of delightfully wounded souls create the Orange Bear, Aspen¿s newest world-class restaurant. This is a man¿s world, one that seriously challenges even the hardiest individual. Elena, who fights daily battles against the ravages of a tragic car accident, relies on sheer strength of will as she pits herself against the daunting physical demands of her new job as executive chef. But will her strength of will be her undoing? Will it prevent her from embracing true love when it¿s finally her turn at the table?<BR/>The Lost Recipe for Happiness tells a great story in a wonderfully engaging manner. Those with a passion for food will drool over the sumptuous descriptions and mouth-watering recipes. Side note...I¿ve tried a few and they are fab... <BR/>A delightful supporting cast, including a gorgeous bear of a dog and a guileless teenager who reminds Elena of possibilities, add to the ambiance. With a story of love and redemption that brings the reader to tears and warms the heart, Barbara ONeal has gently folded all the right ingredients together to make The Lost Recipe for Happiness a must-have for every bookshelf.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    A scrumptious read

    Barbara O¿Neal offers a scrumptious read in The Lost Recipe for Happiness, a Bantam Discovery book. If you like food and love ¿ and who doesn¿t? ¿ there¿s plenty to savor in this story of Elena Alvarez, a chef who must free herself from the ghosts of her past in order to secure her future. <BR/> Life got an early start in teaching Elena that nothing lasts forever. Abandoned by her single mom, she found a new home and new loves, only to have tragedy rip her away from them. When movie producer Julian Liswood offers her a second chance ¿ at love and at carving her own name in culinary fame ¿ Elena searches for signs and the strength to believe in a forever kind of love. <BR/> The Lost Recipe for Happiness offers terrific insights into the demanding world beyond the dining room¿s swinging doors as Elena and her staff of delightfully wounded souls create the Orange Bear, Aspen¿s newest world-class restaurant. This is a man¿s world, one that seriously challenges even the hardiest individual. Elena, who fights daily battles against the ravages of a tragic car accident, relies on sheer strength of will as she pits herself against the daunting physical demands of her new job as executive chef. But will her strength of will be her undoing? Will it prevent her from embracing true love when it¿s finally her turn at the table?<BR/> The Lost Recipe for Happiness tells a great story in a wonderfully engaging manner. Those with a passion for food will drool over the sumptuous descriptions and mouth-watering recipes (I¿ve tried a few and they are fab.) A delightful supporting cast, including a gorgeous bear of a dog and a guileless teenager who reminds Elena of possibilities, add to the ambiance. With a story of love and redemption that brings the reader to tears and warms the heart, Barbara O¿Neal has gently folded all the right ingredients together to make The Lost Recipe for Happiness a must-have for every bookshelf.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 6, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    a passionate contemporary culinary romance

    Although two decades have past since the horrific accident in Espanola, New Mexico that killed her sister and boyfriend and scarred her, Elena Alvarez remains mentally disturbed. Her only escape from the nightmares and ghosts is cooking, which she studied in Europe before returning to Vancouver as a chef at the Blue Turtle where her Santa Fe roots and his French cuisine merged. When the local paper features her instead of her boss Dmitri, he fires her.<BR/><BR/>Slasher film director and Blue Turtle restaurant owner Julian Liswood tasted talent in Elena¿s meals at the Blue Turtle. He offers her the position of executive chef at his new Aspen restaurant; she accepts. In Aspen, she works diligently on the menu in order to compete with a city known for food almost as much for skiing. She also finds herself falling in love with her employer, the divorced several times Julian.<BR/><BR/>Although a passionate contemporary culinary romance has been done many times, THE LOST RECIPE FOR HAPPINESS is kept fresh by the haunting of Elena who literally cannot go home and the failures at marriage of Julian; although the latter pales in comparison on the trauma indicator. The pair shares in common a passion for food and each other while both fears relationships as they always end in failure. With a nod to The Importance of Being Earnest, Barbara O¿Neal cooks up a tasty gourmet meal.<BR/><BR/>Harriet Klausner

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 9, 2013

    Hungry For More!

    The very first review I've ever written, is for a book whose story had me hooked from the beginning, and made me feel as if I was part of the story, tasting the food, and empathsizing with the characters when they were struggling, and cheering for them as they triumphed.
    Read this book...it will warm you from the iinside out!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2012

    Highly recommended.

    This is the first book I've read by this author but it will not be my last. I could not put this book down. Highly recommend.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 23, 2011

    Quickly Became One of my Favorites

    I bought this book at a thrift store because I liked the cover. I was surprised how quickly I became interested in the book. As times, I thought it was just ok, but I was surprised after it was finished how much I missed the book and the characters. After seeing the results of this book, I realized how it quickly became one of my favorites without me even knowing it. I felt the mix of the love story, with story of friendship, cooking and ghosts was terrific. A must read!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 17, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I enjoyed it

    It was a nice read and sort of a revamp of those feelings when you think all is lost or happiness is lost, it can come around again, if you let it. It might not have surprise twists and not very shocking, but it is still a great book and I enjoyed it. I didn't get the book because I wanted to be shocked, I wanted a book that looked like there is always hope out there.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 8, 2009

    Great Great Story!!!

    This was such a great little book. I was very pleasently surprised. The recipes included were a little extra bonus. The characters were well developed and unique. The setting was something very original, lots of differnt points of view throughout. The story moved along well and was over-all a well written story. I too wish there would be another book in the life of Ms. Alvarez.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 20, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Cute book

    This book was cute and had a good plot. I liked the characters and thought they were believable. Would possibly read again, which is how I rate how good a book is. :)

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 16, 2009

    I loved this book!

    Barbara's characters have me turnging the pages to see what was going to happan next..

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 9, 2009

    What an amazing title

    I was at the airport and I was looking for something to occupy my time and I picked up this book just because of the title - what an amazing title...it tells all. It's a great book to sit and relax and enjoy your time in Aspen, perfect for rainy days...

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 23, 2013

    another great read with characters that are interesting and  a w

    another great read with characters that are interesting and  a well developed story.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 29, 2012

    Read the editorial review...

    So predictable that it was hard to get through. I bought it on a recommendation from my favorite author, so I had high hopes. I did like her dog, and the ghosts, but the love story was a yawner and the characters were shallow. Dissapointing.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 24, 2010

    Interesting -- and disappointing

    Overall, I enjoyed the book -- the mix of cooking, culture, ghosts, and second chances made for interesting reading. The plot is generally predictable, revolving around the age-old (worn out?) theme of woman in crisis rescued by rich, successful man. The recipes included add a special touch as do the ghosts who visit. Unfortunately, the romantic interludes read like a trashy romance novel, thus detracting from the quality of the story.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 2, 2009

    A fun read + recipes!

    What a wonderful book to spend a day with. Sort of wish I had saved this for summer by the pool. But no matter. Although some of the book is fairly predictable it had enough originality to keep it interesting.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 54 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)