Review: The Secret Ingredient by Dianne Blacklock

Title: The Secret Ingredient

Author: Dianne Blacklock

Published: Pan MacMillan Australia November 2011

Synopsis: Taste was such an evocative sense; Andie had closed her eyes, with the scone melting in her mouth, and been transported back to her grandmother’s kitchen… Nourishment is nurture. That’s what Andie learned from her grandmother and what she’s always believed about cooking. But somehow, since marrying Ross, she’s allowed her love of food to take a back seat and given up her dream of becoming a chef. Lately she’s been craving more. And when her marriage falls apart, she’s determined to find herself again and take back control of her destiny. The first step is taking a job in the kitchen of renowned chef Dominic Gerou. The brooding Englishman is more than Andie bargains for, but the new Andie is ready for anything, even a bad-tempered chef who makes it clear he won’t tolerate mistakes. In this beautiful new novel, Dianne Blacklock takes us on a sumptuous journey of the heart as Andie uncovers the secret ingredient for her new life, and shows that no matter how many false starts you may have, if you hold on to your passion and your dreams, anything is possible.

Status: Read from July 07 to 08, 2012

My Thoughts:

The Secret Ingredient in an engaging contemporary novel that tells the story of thirty something Andrea who is crushed when she discovers her husbands infidelity but seizes the opportunity to rekindle her dream of becoming a chef. I have had the book on my TBR list for quite some time, having enjoyed previous titles by Dianne Blacklock so I was grateful the author’s impending visit to my local library finally gave me the excuse I needed to pick this novel up.

Blacklock writes believable fiction that women are able to relate to and in The Secret Ingredient she explores marriage breakdown, complex family dynamics and the need for self fulfillment. The protagonist, Andie, confronts self doubt and setbacks to recover and develop a healthy sense of self and independence.
I have to admit I wasn’t sure if I would be able to warm to, or sympathise with, Andie when I learned she was involved with her husband while he was still married to his first wife. My initial reaction to Andie’s discovery of his infidelity was something along the lines of ‘Karma is a b*tch’, so it is to the author’s credit that I came to like her anyway. The affair forces Andie to confront her own role as the ‘other woman’ and take responsibility for the circumstances she has found herself in. Admirably, Andie decides to take back the control she relinquished in the name of love, despite the obstacles, and finds the strength to rebuild her life on her own terms.
The Secret Ingredient does play a little to Australia’s current ‘foodie’ craze, giving us descriptions of carefully prepared meals and a handsome chef, Dominic Gerou, who becomes Andie’s love interest. Gerou contrasts sharply with the narcissistic cheating husband, Ross, and is an ideal partner for Andie. The relationship that develops between the two is nice, and though necessarily complicated, eventually resolves satisfactorily.
Of the other characters in The Secret Ingredient, I particularly liked Joanna, the first wife, who provides a sort of role model for Andie. Its a complicated dynamic between the women, which also includes Joanna’s grown children, but Blacklock makes it believable.

I’m happy to recommend The Secret Ingredient, it is an entertaining read with satisfying depth that it is as easy to consume as a fine meal.

Please visit again later on today to learn more about Dianne Blacklock as a AWW featured guest.

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6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Tien
    Jul 12, 2012 @ 09:21:49

    I’m loving the sound of this one, thanks for sharing 🙂
    ‘food craze’, indeed lol



  2. Danielle
    Jul 12, 2012 @ 09:33:38

    ‘Karma is a b*tch’

    Ha ha ha – that was my reaction too, initially! I was thinking “are we mean to feel sorry for her!?”. I was surprised when I started warming to Andie, but Blacklock convinced me.

    I would really love a book about Joanna, Ross’s first ex-wife. I thought she and Andie had a very odd, but interesting relationship – and I just thought Joanna was one cool character, despite all the hardships she’d been served.

    Great review!



  3. Stephanie @ Read in a Single Sitting
    Jul 12, 2012 @ 11:26:31

    I really enjoyed this one, too, although I agree with you about the foodie aspect!



  4. Dianne
    Jul 12, 2012 @ 18:01:31

    I’m always really interested in the different take different people have of my books – I actually love that Andie had to work for your sympathies!

    And I think you’re right about, Joanna, Danielle. I think a character like her could carry a book on its own. Maybe in the future …



  5. The Australian Bookshelf
    Jul 13, 2012 @ 15:56:18

    I enjoyed this one too Shelleyrae and it did take me a little warming up to Andie because of how she ended up with Ross in the first place. I must admit, i really loathed Ross throughout the entire book.



  6. Denise Imwold
    Jul 18, 2012 @ 09:06:32

    This sounds like a good read, Shelleyrae. I’ve been meaning to check out this author for a long time.



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