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.
Ah, Bookouture, you’re really spoiling us! Hot on the heels of Mandy Baggot’s Truly Madly Greekly (which I reviewed here), this excellent young publisher has produced another book I’ve really enjoyed – Recipes For Melissa by Teresa Driscoll was published on 5th June, and is available in paperback and for kindle.
“Perfect for fans of Rowan Coleman, Lucy Dillon and JoJo Moyes” says the blurb on Amazon, and I really can’t argue with that. A tad lighter than Rowan Coleman maybe – but I do understand the comparison. This book also reminded me of another I’ve recently read – The Wedding Cake Tree by Melanie Hudson. But I think that’s just a sign that I’m reading a little too much chick lit and women’s literature at the moment – this book is original, different and a really good read.
The journal itself is a lovely idea – recipes coupled with memories, a generous and well-judged lightness and humour, and a big secret hidden within its pages. I love the way the recipes are used to trigger memories, and Melissa’s progress towards remembering and accepting is quite perfectly handled. The difficulties around her adult relationship are well drawn and real, wholly understandable, and I really liked the way things were worked through. I particularly loved her father though – their relationship is wonderful, but I really enjoyed his agonising attempts to build a relationship of his own.
Beautifully written, a light read in many ways but with a real depth of emotion, and characters you really care about. I really enjoyed it (she said, wiping away a tear – with a smile – while remembering some of the very best bits…).
My thanks to netgalley and publishers Bookouture for my advance reading e-copy.
Teresa Driscoll is a journalist and author with 25 years’ experience across newspapers, magazines and television. After training as a newspaper reporter, she joined Thames TV for five years before 15 years as the anchor of the BBC’s south west regional TV news programme Spotlight.
Teresa’s debut novel Recipes for Melissa was auctioned at the Frankfurt book fair between seven German publishers and has since sold in six languages. As well as the UK and Germany, it will be published in Brazil, Israel, the Czech Republic and Korea.
Teresa blogs regularly about her “writing life” at her website, is on Twitter and has an author page on Facebook. She lives in glorious Devon with her husband and two sons.