REVIEW: Aftertaste {a novel in five courses} by Meredith Mileti

REVIEW: Aftertaste {a novel in five courses} by Meredith Mileti

Dear Ms. Mileti

What got me interested in trying your first book is the excerpt you sent us and the opening scene in it. Here is a woman wronged who apparently didn’t take her husband’s betrayal of their marriage vows lightly but who, in this modern age, found herself treated as the villain of the piece whereas in ages past she probably would have been lauded for what she did. Instead, after attacking the woman she caught in flagrante delicto with Jake on the sofa in the office of their restaurant Grappa, it’s Mira who ends up being carted away in handcuffs. At least Mira managed to tear out some of the cagna’s hair before the police arrived and she got slapped with a restraining order.

aftertaste-a-novel-in-five-coursesMari has managed to – pretty much – control herself through 7 months of working the lunch shift at Grappa while Jake is the dinner chef. Her court appointed anger management classes aren’t going so well since she thinks the therapist is full of it but except for one session where she lost control and described what landed her there – with far too much relish in the therapist’s opinion – Mira has even kept a lid on her simmering anger there as well. It’s when she discovers during their final divorce proceedings that Jake and his slut are expecting a baby – when she couldn’t get Jake interested in their own infant daughter – and that he’s going to manage to get Grappa as well, that Mira loses it again and this time has to take Chloe and leave the city.

At first, Mira has no intention of staying in her hometown of Pittsburgh longer than the court order for her to stay out of NYC lasts. Despite the fact that her widowed father lives there as well as a older friend from her childhood, Mira sees nothing for herself there. Yet as she begins to settle and, without quite realizing it, inadvertently start growing roots there again, she starts to heal and slowly to discover who and what is important in her life. Could what she’s always been looking for have been there all along?

I wouldn’t call this Chick Lit by any means despite the first person POV tale of a woman’s journey of self discovery. Mira is older, a divorced mother and can pack a mean wallop when she gets pissed off. I see this more as women’s fiction with a dollop of romance sprinkled on at the very end. Kind of like the finishing touch that a chef adds the moment before the plated dinner heads out of the kitchen and to the diner. Yes, the food references are deliberate as food is such an integral part of who Mira is. She lives to cook and can “foodie” with the best of them. If faced with a medley of foodstuffs, her mind is immediately spinning and whirling as she pairs them and dresses them and invents new recipes on the spot. Discovering the secret yet essential ingredient in a dish she’s trying to reproduce is like a delicious game to her. It’s amazing I didn’t end up eating the entire contents of my kitchen after reading about so much wonderful food.

Mira did need to get away from the source of her anger and betrayal but it still takes her a long time to get over what Jake did to her. As indeed I think it would take anyone. The ache is there yet Mira also has to face the reality behind her marriage and come to finally accept it for what it was. Watching her pull herself out of the funk she was in and start to rebuild her confidence isn’t easy but seeing the finished Mira – who is so much stronger a woman than she was before – is worth the effort.

It’s not just herself she needs to rethink though as Mira is, let’s be honest, a bit of a snob, and not only where food is concerned. The relationships of those around her also challenge her to be more understanding but that doesn’t come easily either. Her professor father’s romance with a secretary, who Mira sees as beneath him, ruffles her feathers and her long sober alcoholic friend’s fall from sobriety wrenches Mira’s heart but in the end, it all helps mature her.

The romance ends on a HFN note as Mira is now finally ready to take a chance on her heart and on a man she wouldn’t have been ready for a year ago. And she’ll be back to doing what she loves, cooking in her own restaurant, but a better, more … seasoned if you will… woman who finally knows herself better and is ready to confidently move forward with her life. B-

~Jayne

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