Fiction - paperback; iUniverse.com; 308 pages; 2005. Review copy courtesy of the author's publicist.
Confession time: I have never read a chick lit novel, much less one geared for the 'older woman' . For that reason I expected to very much not like Sharon Boorstin's Cookin' for Love. In fact, if I am honest, I expected to hate it. But I was rather pleasantly surprised by this light-hearted tale of two 50-somethings going on a girls' own adventure in exotic Malaysia. It was, quite frankly, a real page-turner and I read it in just a few sittings.
In many ways Cookin' for Love reminds me very much of the girlie backpacking romp Losing Gemma by Katy Gardner, except the characters are about 20 years older.
Essentially it is a story of two grown women - the married mother of three in a rut with a husband who treats her like she's invisible, and the mutton-dressed-as-lamb floozy who's desperate to find someone to love her. Miriam, the Beverly Hills cookbook author, is down-to-earth and a little dowdy, while Katy McGrath is rich and glamorous if not a little shallow. Why these two are best friends is a little beyond me, but I guess opposites attract and it does provide a certain frisson between the characters.
Miriam might be the more successful of the two, having raised a family and carved herself an interesting career, but she seems to get dumped on, not just by her children and husband, but by Katy as well. No sooner have the pair of them arrived in Kuala Lumpur, than Katy is off shagging the pants of her lost lost lover, Erik, while Miriam, nervous to be outside of her comfort zone, is left to fend for herself.
Boorstin's writing is accomplished: you get a real sense of the characters and she brings the exotic landscapes and surroundings of Malaysia to life. The plot moves along quickly, although there's a couple of off-the-wall moments towards the end of the book that don't really ring true. The smattering of recipes throughout adds extra interest, although I'd be loathe to cook anything given there's no UK measurements (what, for instance, is a 'stick' of butter?)
All in all, this is the perfect summer read, enjoyable and entertaining no matter what your age (or gender).