This is one of the most touching stories I have read for some time. I was expecting to be needing a lot of hankies but while it’s emotional, it’s not actually a sad book. There are some sad moments, of course, but on the whole it is just a beautifully written story. At the age of 25 Melissa, very unexpectedly, has been given a book of recipes compiled by her mother who died when Melissa was only 8. Along with the recipes, Eleanor has written about her memories of time she has spent with Melissa and her father Max and included photographs and words of advice for her daughter. This has come to Melissa at a time of her life where she is having to make some big decisons about her future and she finds it quite difficult to deal with this unexpected contact with her mother.
I think one of the reasons this book wasn’t as sad as I expected is that it was written from Eleanor to Melissa as a grown woman, not the small child she was when Eleanor died. She is able to talk to her daughter as an adult not as a little girl. Melissa can begin to relate to her mother as an adult and understand a bit more about what was happening when she was ill. Inevitably, memories are aroused, some happy some sad. Eleanor’s love for her daughter was so clear and you can really feel her sorrow at not being around for her as an adult. You can also understand her struggle about whether to tell Melissa some secrets which could change her life.
I really liked the chapters written from Melissa’s father Max’s point of view as well. He is obviously such a lovely man and has done a wonderful job of bringing up his daughter. Perhaps now it is time for him to have a chance at happiness again. Melissa’s partner Sam, is also portrayed as a lovely caring man and their relationship was well recounted, particularly as Melissa comes to terms with some quite big revelations which could affect their future.
I really loved this book. It was so beautfully written, emotional without being overly sentimental and ultimately an uplifting read. This is Teresa Driscoll’s debut novel and I can’t wait to see what she writes next.
My thanks to the publishers, Bookouture, for allowing me to read a review copy via Netgalley. Recipes for Melissa was published on 5 June 2015 and you can order a copy here: Recipes for Melissa.
What the book is about:
Melissa Dance was eight years old when her mother died. They never got to say goodbye. Seventeen years later, Melissa is handed a journal. As she smooths open the pages and begins to read her mother’s words, she is instantly transported back to her childhood. But returning to her past is painful and memories of her mother’s beautiful face are a cruel reminder to Melissa that she’ll never see her again. As Melissa slowly makes her way through the precious book, reading the snippets of advice and cooking the dishes from the recipes she is also shocked to learn of her mother’s secrets – secrets that if shared, could change Melissa’s world forever.