Today’s Spotlight on Bookstores post is written by Erica Bauermeister, author of The School of Essential Ingredients, Joy for Beginners (my review is here), and the forthcoming The Lost Art of Mixing (January 2013) … which is a wonderful sequel to The School of Essential Ingredients!
Yes, readers will once again spend time with Lillian, getting to know the people who come in and out of her restaurant, and in and out of her life. The Lost Art of Mixing has been called “a captivating meditation on the power of love, food, and companionship.” yum!
And read below for a “taste” of Erica’s writing. This lovely guest post pays homage to a very special independent bookstore and the atmosphere created for Erica’s author event. Enticing atmosphere, home-cooked food, creativity, a little bit of ‘magic,’ and a very big heart; Rakestraw Books reflected the qualities shown through Lillian in Erica’s first novel — I’m sure their booksellers and customers are anxious for the ‘second course’ in The Lost Art of Mixing!
(note from Dawn: the photo of Rakestraw Books is their former location – they moved just a few doors down the street this past week; we’ll update the photo when a new one is available).
My first novel, The School of Essential Ingredients told the story of eight students and their teacher in a cooking school set in a restaurant kitchen. Lillian’s restaurant is a magical place, and over the years many readers have asked where they can find it. I tell them that Lillian’s is not one place – Lillian’s exists in that dinner when everything works, sunlight fading into candlelight, your first bite stopping time as you marvel at the flavors, the conversation around the table relaxing into pure enjoyment and friendship. I have experienced those dinners in restaurants, at a picnic in Griffith Park, and even in my own dining room.
But the best one ever was in a bookstore.
Rakestraw Books in Danville, California is set on a quiet little street of picture-perfect stores. It’s the kind of street you want to walk down rather than drive, because you might miss the moments of individuality that happen in small, locally-owned stores, where the merchandise isn’t always what you expect. And Rakestraw fits right in – filled with warm light and big wooden tables piled with books carefully selected by booksellers who read, read, read and then excitedly put those books in the hands of the readers who will love them.
What I didn’t expect was magic. Michael, the owner, had told me he wanted to do a dinner as part of my reading, but I didn’t honestly know what that meant. I arrived at the bookstore and encountered what felt like the set change in a theatrical production. Books were disappearing from the tables, which were then rapidly covered with white cloths and surrounded by chairs. Michael was bustling in and out, carrying foil-covered trays of food – a full, three-course gourmet meal for 70 people that he had cooked in a friend’s kitchen a few doors down. A musical trio played in the background and the notes of a flute reached out to welcome the customers who arrived, sparkling in anticipation, bringing bottles of wine, glasses, plates and silverware, and staking their claims on seats.
In my memory there are candles, although it’s hard to imagine that in a store filled with paper. Perhaps it only felt that way, as the evening softened and one course gave way to another, flavors playing off each other with assurance and whimsy. Strangers met each other across the tables and stories were shared along with wine bottles. At one point everyone sang happy 40th birthday to a woman whose blushing face taught us all something about beauty.
I read that night, and Lillian and her students came out of the book and met new readers – but the heart of the book was already there in the generosity and creativity of Michael and his staff at Rakestraw. Because that, dear reader, is how you find Lillian’s restaurant.
Thanks for sharing this, Erica! What a magical evening, indeed (and, I do hope the candles were only in your imagination!).
Readers, to learn more about The Lost Art of Mixing, follow Erica on her TLC Book Tour. In December, there will be giveaways of this forthcoming novel – stay tuned!
In the meantime, if your or your book group haven’t already read The School of Essential Ingredients, pick it up and meet Lillian and her friends; you’ll be ready for The Lost Art of Mixing come January.
- Friday, November 2nd: Life in the Thumb
- Monday, November 5th: Savvy Verse and Wit
- Tuesday, November 6th: Stephanie’s Written World
- Wednesday, November 7th: Book Chatter
- Thursday, November 8th: Books and Movies
- Friday, November 9th: Book Club Classics!
- Monday, November 12th: Peeking Between the Pages
- Tuesday, November 13th: girlichef
- Wednesday, November 14th: Library of Clean Reads
- Thursday, November 15th: 2 Kids and Tired
- Friday, November 16th: Adventures of an Intrepid Reader
- Monday, November 19th: WV Stitcher
- Tuesday, November 20th: Joyfully Retired
- Wednesday, November 21st: Silver and Grace
- Friday, November 23rd: A Chick Who Reads
- Monday, November 26th: Diary of an Eccentric
- Tuesday, November 27th: Mom in Love with Fiction
- Wednesday, November 28th: Book Dilettante
- Thursday, November 29th: Southern Girl Reads
- Friday, November 30th: Peppermint Ph.D.
- Monday, December 3rd: Just Joanna
- Tuesday, December 4th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
- Wednesday, December 5th: HopefulLeigh
- Thursday, December 6th: Sidewalk Shoes
- Friday, December 7th: Book Addiction