I feel as though I\’ve just been on holiday. To a gorgeous Italian village, with the most amazing views, perfect weather and to-die-for food! Recipe for Life is a gorgeous book and Nicky Pellegrino has an incredible knack for making the reader feel as though they have been transported into her world.
Recipe for Life is the story of two women â€“ Alice, a promising young chef for whom life has dealt a few blows; and Babetta, the elderly woman who has worked for years tending the gardens of a crumbling Mediterranean villa, Villa Rosa.
Alice learns that life is fragile after she experiences a traumatic event and moves to London where she plans to make the most of every second. Discovering her passion for food and cooking, she sets out to make a career of it, only to forget about allowing time for the rest of her life. She is persuaded by her close friend Leila to take some time off to spend a summer in the villa Leila\’s mother has purchased in Italy. It is there that Alice meets Babetta and, despite not speaking the others language, they forge a friendship â€“ built upon their love of food and the pleasure it provides.
Babetta has lived for years with her moody husband in the caretakers cottage beside the Villa Rosa. They have tended the grounds as owners have come and gone, and lived an independent if somewhat reclusive life providing for themselves. With the arrival of Alice, Leila and Leila\’s mother Babetta fears for her future, but soon realises that the new owners need her as much as she needs them.
Over the course of a hot, fragrant summer Babetta and Alice work side by side in the garden and in the kitchen, both discovering truths about themselves and their lives. Alice returns to London reluctantly at the end of her time, having discovered that there is more to life than work and that food, and happiness, are things to be savoured.
Years pass, and both Alice and Babetta\’s lives progress in ways they could not have predicted. When Alice and Leila finally return to Villa Rosa and the village of Triento, they are each carrying secrets, secrets that will bind them to this place and the people who live here forever.
Recipe for Life is a truly enjoyable read. The characters are flawed enough to be believable, and the descriptions of life in Italy (and London) are so realistic that I felt as though I was going to step out my front door and be there. But, it also made me want to eat the freshest, most authentic Italian food I could find and had me busily trying to convince my husband that a holiday in Italy was just what we needed. Loved it.
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