Comfort Food – Book Review

There was only one birthday that Gus was getting tired of organizing. Tired, really, of celebrating at all. Her own. Because in short order – March 25 – August Adelaide Simpson was turning fifty. -From Comfort Food, page 4-

Gus Simpson is a huge TV personality on the CookingChannel. After the unexpected death of her husband (leaving her alone to raise two daughters), Gus discovers her inner cook and rises quickly to stardom. Her daughters are now in their 20s and struggling with their own issues, while Gus is dreading turning 50 and forced to deal with losing her Cooking With Gusto! show. She re-groups, reluctantly pairing with the beautiful Carmen Vega (an ex-beauty queen with a penchant for spiciness), to birth a new show: Eat Drink and Be.

Jacobs introduces a vast cast of characters including Gus’ two unlikeable daughters, her daughter Sabrina’s ex boyfriend Troy, Gus’ love interest Oliver, and the mysterious Hannah. I disliked them all – finding them flat, predictable and shallow. I also didn’t understand why Jacobs felt it necessary to give us involved descriptions of their hair (maybe because otherwise we couldn’t tell one from the other?).

I received this uncorrected proof from Penguin Book Group. The novel was released earlier this month on the heels of Jacobs’ first novel The Friday Night Knitting Club. I normally appreciate a well-paced chick lit book – but this one was tough to get through. I wanted to like Gus, but I never felt like I knew her. Hannah’s character was better developed, but her mysterious background grew tiresome for me. My least favorite character was Sabrina – a girl who is terrified to commit to a relationship and so she sleeps around and toys with men, using her beauty as a way to waltz through life.

As you can tell, this was not a book I can recommend. Some readers, however, had a different viewpoint. Check out Kit’s review (at Mango and Ginger) and Trish’s review (at Hey Lady! Watcha Readin’?) who both liked this book a lot better than I did. Deb’s review at Here and There seems to agree with mine.

I won’t be recommending this book. But, there are some readers out there who probably will love Jacobs’ latest novel…so if you are heavily into chick lit and food, you might still want to read this one and come to your own conclusions.

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    • trish on June 26, 2008 at 10:26

    I have a confession…I didn’t like it that much…hardly at all. It was compelling to read, though I NEVER would have picked it up in a book store. Lots of things bugged me, like how the author used the phrase Thank you very much throughout the book. Made me want to scream.

    I tried to be *ahem* diplomatic since I’d be interviewing the author AND she’d be doing a guest post…

    So what do I do now? Say three hail mary’s and donate to the church and I’ll be absolved? 🙂

    • Wendy on June 26, 2008 at 15:17

    LOL, Trish…I understand the need for diplomacy 🙂 I was really glad to put this one down and start a new one!

    • Jill on June 26, 2008 at 15:58

    I had a terrible time with her first book, The Friday Night Knitting Club. I didn’t think she took the time to really develop her characters in that book – and it looks like a similar critique with this one. I think I can safely skip it.

    =) Jill

    • Wendy on June 26, 2008 at 18:25

    Jill, I should have listened to you when you told me not to request this one 🙂 Next time I’ll take heed!

    • Kit on June 30, 2008 at 18:31

    Hmmm. Reading this review makes me wonder if I really liked the book itself, or if I actually just like food!

    • Wendy on July 2, 2008 at 09:32

    Kit: LOL – well, this one will definitely appeal to food lovers!

    • Jill on July 6, 2008 at 10:12

    I think that’s what redeemed this book for me, too…the food element. I’m a die-hard foodie and Food Network junkie, so I really liked it from that angle. I tried to pick up Friday Night Knitting Club and couldn’t, so I think the particular slant of this book was what got me through it.

    • Wendy on July 7, 2008 at 09:09

    Jill: I can see where real foodies would enjoy this book.

  1. Someone that liked Comfort Food even less than I did :-)!

    This one never came together for me, but I still enjoyed some aspects of it.

    • Wendy on July 3, 2009 at 09:28

    Thanks for weighing in, Laura 🙂 I usually love books like this, but it disappointed me.

    • Sbow00 on October 17, 2010 at 17:00

    I really liked the book on tape version of this book. But, it was long and can see how it would have been hard to get through when reading

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