Wednesday, September 11, 2019

The Ingredients of Us by Jennifer Gold

Sometimes a book that you think is going to check off of all your boxes ends up being one that leaves you with a lingering feeling of disappointment and dissatisfaction.  The Ingredients of Us was one of those books. Maybe I went into the book thinking it was going to be a fun-filled novel about a baker, and recipes, and a bit lighthearted, with just enough drama to keep it from being sappy. 

Instead, I struggled to finish it, and it took me a few weeks. It's the story of Elle and Tom, married for 8 years, and Elle has recently discovered Tom has had an affair. A busy woman with a popular bakery, she's consumed by her love of baking--so much so that it usually takes priority in her life, even over Tom. Feeling neglected, he cheats. And this is the main plot of the novel--how they cope with his infidelity while deciding if saving their marriage is something they want to do. 

We see their relationship from the earliest stages up to the days and weeks following Elle's discovery of the affair. While it was important to understand where they came from as a couple, it was a bit too much bouncing back and forth, back and forth, between "7 years and 3 days before Elle finds out" to "Four weeks after Elle finds out". I'm never one to complain about plots zipping back and forth between the before and the after, but this seemed a bit overdone. The  looks back were a bit all over the place, so it was hard to settle in and see where in the relationship Elle and Tom were and what it had to do with what was going on in present time. One big issue was children--Tom wanted them, and Elle wasn't ready. Was she ever going to be ready? It's a pretty big deal, and I'm not really sure it was ever laid to rest as I turned the last page. 

So while I was looking for a lighthearted read, I didn't find it here. The recipes and baked goods sounded divine, but the writing of the recipes seemed completely at odds with the tone of the novel--they seemed a bit out of place. 

This wasn't the read I was expecting it to be, and maybe it's my fault for being disappointed in the result. If you want to read about a marriage and all the trials and troubles that add to it, and potentially destroy it, this is the novel for you. It just wasn't my jam. 

Rating: 2/6 for a novel about two people navigating the choppy waters of infidelity. Too much jumping around was jarring, and the bakery setting and foodie parts didn't seem to jive with the seriousness of the rest of the novel. 

Available in hardcover, ebook, and audio. 

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