Love Apples by Melissa van Maasdyk
Debut author Melissa van Maasdyk is on the blog today with a story set in the world of food media, with a heroine that needs to find her way through it all. Please read on for my review of
The title is taken from the term used for tomatoes in Mauritius – and throughout the story food and the use of food to show love and caring is a strong thread, perhaps occasionally overtaking the characters at points, particularly the heroine, Kate. A complete conundrum this one: she claims to have difficulty with romantic commitments (a hangover from her own parents’ divorce) but bemoans the loss of her ‘soul mate’ Daniel after she behaved abominably. She wasn’t the easiest to like: immature, selfish to the nth degree, and stuck in a bit of a self-pity party. Her redeeming feature? The woman is a genius with food: setting a scene, meal or moment with food that you know you just have to taste it now. But, I digress. Back to the beginning.
Food editor for a glossy, Be, a kerfuffle over the cover image for the magazine and a major layout both have Kate in the catbird seat, and her first cover is coming out with the new issue. Unfortunately for her, she also managed to make an enemy out of one of the other editors, cheat on her boyfriend of long standing, and arrive home to ‘bare her soul’ and lose said man. After a long weekend of shutting out the world to regroup, cry and rest, she returns to the office, an office in crisis. With this crisis comes another: one week to close down the magazine, and everyone is out of work. Now jobless and finding few opportunities in her field, she runs home to her mother’s house. Here menus are discussed, she relives her parents’ divorce (sudden) and cooks with her mother: food is a constant here – and the recipes and options are truly wonderful.
And then, a brainstorm after stalking her ex when not isolating herself – she calls her old editor, now in charge of a large new venture, and asks about opportunities – one of which will push her straight out of her comfort zone: but having made friends in the beauty and style divisions, she’s got backup for the outer her. Now just to work on the screen test and hopefully score the job. Then, it’s back to convincing her boyfriend to come back.
Overall – the story was a quick read and for all of the goings-on I expected to feel more of the drama and angst from someone other than Kate. But, again, she wavered between brilliant when discussing / describing food and wet blanket when she rolled into her self-pity. There wasn’t a moment that felt like she was actually concerned for Daniel’s feelings about her cheating, only that she had lost him: it all seemed to develop over a trip to the flower market that they spent many a lazy Sunday at, without a great deal of self-reflection. The food and the magazine insider moments were refreshing and new: and while the descriptions did overrun themselves frequently, the halt in progress that these brought did serve to refocus the story to the food. In fact, the food and combinations were a character in themselves: from place settings to visualizations the food often felt more important than Kate or any of the action surrounding it. There’s a curious balance between forward story progress and description to build a scene or an emotional attachment to a character that didn’t happen, and I was left wondering about much of the ‘growth’ that Kate displayed as it never really felt real because of this lack of emotional connection. Overall – this was unlike any story I’ve read, with lush descriptions that presented a visual, recipes to try and a heroine that claims to have learned a lesson – all making for a quick-reading and enjoyable story.
Title: Love Apples
Author: Melissa van Maasdyk
Genre: Contemporary Woman's Fiction, Food / Recipes, Recipes, Romantic Elements
Published by: Self-Published
Published on: 2 September, 2016
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Heat: Get Your Copy: Amazon ♦ Barnes&Noble ♦ iTunes ♦ Kobo ♦ IndieBound ♦ Book Depository ♦ Google
About the Book:
Ambitious food writer and commitment-phobe Kate Richmond has just been appointed as lifestyle editor at glamorous Be magazine for the bumper summer issue. It’s 2008 and the world of magazines is changing. Pressures from the recession and digital outlets mean that Kate must deliver or Be faces closure. Choosing the island of Mauritius for the shoot, Kate finds herself beset by cyclones, tricky colleagues and matters of the heart.
She loves her wine-expert boyfriend, Daniel, but doesn’t want to get married. It didn’t work out for her mother and Kate has no intentions of letting love scupper her career. When she cheats on Daniel with hotel worker Fai Li she finds herself questioning whether fidelity is in her DNA. Especially when she is forced to close a cost-saving barter deal between the sheets with the hotel’s suave CEO.
Back in London, the trip's failure combined with the wrath of a colleague precipitates the closure of Be and suddenly, Kate, who has always put her career ahead of love, finds herself without a job, without a boyfriend and bereft.
But magazine jobs are thin on the ground and Kate finds herself looking at other avenues. When she finally musters the courage to pursue a job as the host of a new TV cookery show Kate realizes that she is braver than she thought. And that love is worth the risk.
Divided between London’s glamorous publishing world and the laid-back island of Mauritius, Love Apples invites readers to sample the behind-the-scenes dramas of a glossy magazine, while on a deeper level delving into love, marriage, infidelity and the question of why people continue to invest in a convention so prone to failure.
The novel ends with a selection of all the recipes referenced in the book
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: