Too Many Cooks by Dana Bate

One of the reasons we bought our current house was that there were lots of shelves in the kitchen for my many cookbooks – or that was one of my reasons anyway! So I was so pleased to have the chance to review this book about a cookbook ghostwriter.

What I thought:

I really enjoyed this book and found I warmed to the character of Kelly right from the first chapter. Beginning your story at a funeral doesn’t seem to promise a cheery read but Dana Bate managed to make this lighthearted and humorous, particularly through the letter from Kelly’s late mother. This letter spurs Kelly to re-examine her life: a comfortable but perhaps boring relationship, a safe but predictable  job. When the opportunity comes up to move to London for a year working as a ghost writer for Natasha Spencer, a successful actress’ cookbook, Kelly decides to take the chance. I enjoyed reading about Kelly finding out about British culture – always take an umbrella one of the most important lessons – and getting to know about our political system through Hugh, her employer’s very handsome MP husband. Natasha is a really unpleasant character – she’s self obsessed, condescending, unreasonable and manipulative. She does, very briefly show a more human side in one scene later in the novel but it is short lived and she is back to her usual selfish self.

It soon becomes apparent that Natasha and Hugh’s relationship is not what it seems and is more like a business arrangement. Kelly is attracted to Hugh, and he seems to return her feelings, but she tries to resist her growing attraction. After all he is a high profile politician married to a famous, beautiful actress! The potential relationship between them is one of the main features of the book and told very convincingly. Fate seems to keep giving them opportunities to be alone together. Whether they act on this, you will need to read to find out!

What I loved about this book though was the writing about the food and the recipe testing. Dana Bate’s descriptions were mouth-watering and I felt as though I could almost smell and taste all the lovely food she was writing about. It made me wonder how many of the cookbooks I have might be ghostwritten? I am sure that Nigella tests and writes her own recipes but what about the others? I was pleased to see that Nigella did get a mention at one point as she is my favourite cook.

As you read Too Many Cooks you might think you have worked out how it will all end but this book isn’t predictable. It didn’t end as I expected, but the ending is satisfying and just right.

If you’ll pardon the foodie puns, Too Many Cooks is a delicious treat and one to be savoured.

My thanks to Little, Brown UK for the chance to review this book. Don’t forget you can enter my give-away competition to win a copy of this book – just comment by Tuesday evening. Click here for details.

What the book is about:

Kelly Madigan seems to have it all: a fabulous boyfriend, a supportive – if eccentric – family, and a flourishing career as a cookbook ghostwriter. But after finding a letter from her recently-deceased mother, criticising her stable but unexciting life, Kelly knows she needs to make a change. When a mysterious new writing opportunity in London presents itself, she jumps at the chance to get away from it all. Enter Natasha Spencer – Oscar-winning actress and health nut, not to mention a total nightmare. She’s working on a new cookbook and has asked for Kelly’s help. What Kelly didn’t factor in was meeting Natasha’s dishy MP husband, Hugh Ballantine. Away from her family, friends, and the life she knows – will this fish out of water ever get back in the swim?

4 thoughts on “Too Many Cooks by Dana Bate

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