Friday, 5 June 2015

Recipes for Melissa by Teresa Driscoll

Publication date: 5 June 2015
Published by Bookouture
Purchase from Amazon here

My Rating: 5 stars - perfection!

The Blurb:

Is it ever too late for the gift of goodbye?

As I write now, you are eight years old – asleep in the bed next door in princess pyjamas, with a fairy costume discarded on the floor.

Twenty-Five. The age I had you. The age our story began. And the age, I hope, that will see you truly ready for the things that I need to say to you…

Melissa Dance was eight years old when her mother died. They never got to say goodbye.

Seventeen years later, Melissa is handed a journal. As she smooths open the pages and begins to read her mother’s words, she is instantly transported back to her childhood.

But returning to her past is painful and memories of her mother’s beautiful face are a cruel reminderto Melissa that she’ll never see her again.

As Melissa slowly makes her way through the precious book, reading the snippets of advice and cooking the dishes from the recipes she is also shocked to learn of her mother’s secrets – secrets that if shared, could change Melissa’s world forever.

A beautifully written, heartbreaking and ultimately uplifting story of a mother’s loving legacy for her daughter – perfect for fans of Rowan Coleman, Lucy Dillon and JoJo Moyes.

My Review:

Recipes for Melissa is an absolutely beautifully written book. It is heartbreaking and sad, but at the same time it is also uplifting and inspirational. The book is a reminder that you have to make the most of each day, making sure to laugh and love lots, and be true to your heart.  I picked this up and found it virtually impossible to put down again. It took me on an emotional rollercoaster which, if I'm honest I was sad to get off at the end. It is quite hard to write a review which would do the book justice as to do so would mean giving lots of the plot away, and I don't want to do that and spoil it for others. But Recipes for Melissa is a powerful tale that will stick me with for a long time to come.

Melissa lost her Mum to cancer when she was just eight years old. We meet Melissa as she turns 25. She gets called into a solicitors office where she is given a book that her Mum put together whilst she was ill. Realising that she won't be around to see Melissa grow up, become a wife and Mum the book contains memories of their life together, as well as practical tips and some special recipes.

The story flits between the present day, and the past. We see Melissa dealing with life and her relationship. All is not as rosy as it should be, and we see her internal battle to try and work out whether her future lies with her boyfriend, and what she wants from life. She is also thrown back into mourning the loss of her Mum and finding out more about what happened. It's fair to say that this is a really hard time for her, and I wanted to wrap her up in cotton wool.

Watching Melissa read back over memories of her childhood was very moving. Like most of us, our memories can be sketchy, and we can forget some of things that at the time felt 'normal', but can come to mean so much later on. Silly things, like baking or smells that we forget about, only to be reminded of when we get older and become nostalgic. Reading her Mum's book does this for Melissa, and it is very emotional to relive it with her.

But what makes this book so special and moving for me is that the author has also included Melissa's Mum, Eleanor's voice. I wasn't just reading her words, I could feel myself being transported into her world and her head to experience her illness and emotions first hand. This was so powerful. The angst, the injustice of the situation, but overriding that all, the love for her daughter. The love between a mother and her child is unique, and I know from being a Mum to my daughter that all I want in life is for her to be happy and know she is loved. Trying to imagine how Eleanor must have felt writing this was scary. I realised that whilst this is fiction, it happens in real life and I am filled with so much admiration and respect for these families.

Each part of the story connects in to a recipe which has a story behind it. So, not only do we get a moving and compelling story, but we also get some brilliant recipes too! Now what's not to love about good food? My mouth was watering at times at the thought of the smells and tastes. I loved that the recipes and instructions were included and I will definitely be giving a few of them a go!

I admit, my heart broke a number of times whilst reading, and more than once I was reaching for the tissues, and was totally absorbed in the story. It felt quite close to home in some ways as I lost my Aunt a few years ago. She had a young family and it made me reflect on how she and the kids must have felt.

The book is so cleverly written that I find it hard to believe that this is Teresa's debut novel. But its not all sadness and mourning. There is a really strong storyline which does also delve into the present day and we meet great characters such as Max, Melissa's Dad, who I really liked. I actually felt the book was uplifting and inspirational and it left me feeling positive and determined to enjoy life and those I share it with.

Thank you to Bookouture for kindly providing me with a copy of this book in return for an honest review.

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