The Full Catastrophe

I really really loved this review.  From an Adelaide publication.  (Newsletter, maybe?)

My favorite part is that she quoted Zorba.  One of my favorite movies of all time.  (When I was pregnant, my fabulous sister took me to the play, and Anthony Quinn was playing his signature role. )  Anyway…..

Barbara O’Neal
Published by Harper Collins Publisher Australia, P/B $32.99

This is shameless ’chick lit ’ and it’s pretty unlikely that any male
chef (or for that matter male) is going to get into it unless they are
a bit pissed (or stoned) and sentimental and/or have been recently
dumped by a tough female chef in love with nothing but her food. Girls
will get it, especially kick arse female chefs who make it to the top
and stay there because they have earned and gained the respect of
their male colleagues by being their better, tougher, stronger and
more talented. The Lost Recipe for Happiness does make the connection
between the kitchen that really works, the one that understands it
takes a team and the better the team, regardless of how competitive it
is, the better it works. Punters will probably not get half of this
book, the sickening opening night that goes completely wrong, a
kitchen half staffed with illegal immigrants, drunks and addicts, the
jealousies the love, the family that is the mystical group of cripples
who share a peculiar love for each other and run the best kitchens;
basically the full catastrophe.

O’Neal even gets most of the kitchen bits right apart from the notion
of dying the tamale husks with food colouring ddd…! It just wouldn’t
happen in a good kitchen. There is a lot in this book for Anthony
Bourdain’s ’kitchen bitches’ to relate to, right to the crippling
agonising pain of a broken back, the exhausted limping which was a bit
too close to home.

This could have been yet another dreary hash of sickeningly sweet
books like Mostly Martha, but somehow manages to scrape in with just
enough toughness to have some sense of truth. At least there is a lot
of hot and steamy sex, just like every normal kitchen, that ends up
condoning complicated incestuous trysts because no has the time or
energy to go looking for a relationship after a 16 hour a day. These
cynical personalities are mainly driven by their love of food and
cooking, but deep down most long for someone to love who will love
them back without asking them to give up their passions.

If you’re into kitchen reality you should probably tear out the last
20 pages before you start reading and throw them in the bin, but if
you feel like a lot of unbelievable happiness and in need of a good
weep the end will kill you. After all the title says it all! If they
make this book into a movie, which is more than likely, there are
bound to be girls in cloggs attending the mid afternoon sessions,
weeping noisily and wishing their love affairs had half such happy
endings. It’s a soft, mushie, tragic, sad, a story of ghosts and
kitchens, love and redemption and for some inexplicable reason
impossible to put down.

8 thoughts on “The Full Catastrophe

  1. Rachel

    “If they
    make this book into a movie, which is more than likely”

    “impossible to put down.”

    Gotta love it!

    Congratulations on capturing another reader, Barbara!

  2. Wow, what a review! Congratulations, Barbara.

  3. Lee Duncan

    A movie?! It would make a fabulous movie, wouldn’t it? Great review! Makes me want to go out and buy the book all over again.

  4. Definitely liked the movie suggestion. Maria Bello as Elena, maybe.

  5. Barb

    Barbara –
    Who do you see as Julian, Patrick and Ivan?

  6. Julian is very hard to cast. Ivan: Santino from Project Runway, ages ago.

    Patrick. Not sure about him, either. Suggestions?

  7. Barb

    I agree with you. Julian and Patrick are hard to cast. I’m going to think about them. Santino is great for Ivan. I’d been thinking Daniel Day Lewis for Ivan. I LOVE Maria Bello as Elena, by the way.
    This is fun!

  8. I bet all of your books are beautiful or awesome. Good luck to publish and more in the future!

    P.S. Hope your stories will be movies(.:

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