4 out of 5 stars
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Far too young to be a widow, Angelina D’Angelo suddenly finds herself facing a life without her beloved husband, Frank. Late one night shortly after the funeral, she makes her way down to the kitchen and pours all of her grief and anger into the only outlet she has left, her passion for cooking. In a frenzy of concentration and swift precision, she builds layer upon layer of thick, rich lasagna, braids loaves of yeasty bread, roasts, plump herb-rubbed chicken; she makes so much food that she winds up delivering the spoils to the neighbors in her tight-knit Italian community in South Philadelphia.
Retiree Basil Cupertino, who has just moved in with his kindly sister across the street, is positively smitten with Angelina’s food. In a stroke of good fortune, Basil offers Angelina (not only husbandless but unemployed) a job cooking for him, two meals a day, six days a week, in exchange for a handsome salary. Soon, word of her irresistible culinary prowess spreads and she finds herself cooking for seven bachelors, and in the process discovers the magical power of food to heal, to bring people together . . . and maybe even to provide a second chance at love.
Filled to the brim with homemade warmth, Angelina’s Bachelors is a sweet tale of overcoming grief, redefining family, and following your heart, through food.
Angelina’s Bachelors by Brian O’Reilly is a wonderful debut novel. It’s well-written; the characters are lovable and interesting; and the story line is well-thought and well-executed.
The bachelors that Angelina ends up cooking for are all fascinating and it’s fun to gradually get their back stories as the novel progresses. The level of emotions throughout the book also seemed to fit the circumstances of where they fell in the plot. This book struck the right balance between heavy, emotional reading and light-hearted, carefree reading.
The one thing I did find annoying was that, at least in the copy I read, the recipes for Angelina’s dinners were right in the middle of the story line. It was very annoying to have to keep skipping over three to five pages with the recipes on them just to get back to the story line. It would’ve been much better if the author had put those at the end of the chapter.
All in all, a wonderful debut novel and I would love to read more from this author should he publish more.