Recipe for Love – Book Review

Book: Recipe For Love
Author: Katie Fforde
Year: 2012

When she first saw Gideon again she had thought ‘all for love and the world well lost’, only for her it meant the competition rather than the world.

There is nothing misleading about the title – yes, it is an escapist, incorrigibly romantic and sublimely beautiful book. If that’s not your preferred genre, leave this out of your reading list. This 19th book in a collection of 20 by the British romance novelist Katie Fforde is every bit the candy floss sweet, innately romantic, and fetching story. Largely set in an English country estate, Recipe For Love tells us the story of young Zoe who has been chosen as a participant in a televised cookery competition on the lines of Masterchef. Zoe dreams of winning the competition to open her own delicatessen to serve people home-style food that they can take away on-the-go instead of the uninviting packaged food that is available off shelves.

When she arrives at Somerby, the country estate where the filming will take place, Zoe is aRecipe For Love - Katie Fforde bundle of nerves surrounded by fresh green grass and buttery sunlight. The owners of the estate, Rupert and Fenella (fondly called Fen) have given the house on rent to the production company partly because they don’t know what to do with the palatial house and partly because they could do with the money. After spending some time trying to distract herself from her restlessness, Zoe decides to take a walk and she bumps into Gideon Irving who not only happens to be a strikingly sexy man but also a judge in the competition. Sparks fly and we’re introduced to the love story that we’ll be reading about. A young contestant in a cookery show who falls in love with one of the judges. How this recipe turns out is what the book is all about. And while you’re at it, it helps that Rupert and Fen are easily the most positive and adorable characters in the book. A married couple who are the envy of the Gods themselves, they are hospitable, funny, and loved by all. Fen and Zoe become good friends right at the start of the book.

Enter Cher; Zoe’s room mate during the show and her fiercest competitor. Cher is blunt about the fact that she wants to win the competition only for fame and that she would go to any lengths to do so. She is the antagonist of the book, always hindering Zoe by her gilded evil ways. Cher is always at Zoe’s footsteps either trying to trip her down on peer over her back. She’s every bit the prim and propah barbie doll. In short, Cher’s character is a stereotype of the model-material girl.

The other characters in the book are the other contestants, the two judges Anna and Fred apart from Gideon, Zoe’s parents and best friend Jenny, and other tertiary characters. How Zoe walks the tightrope between being a contestant and being in love with a judge is to see. Some would say it isn’t fair to have cheating in a setting such as this, but hey, it’s a romance novel and those who lap it up don’t seem to be complaining. To add to this, the writing of the book is very good indeed.

As she looked for the shop she saw Fearnley was indeed the perfect town for a specialist food shop. A range of antique and gift shops punctuated the hotels and tea rooms and shops selling china, frocks and homewares. The town had been a tourist honey pot for hundreds of years; it was probably time it had something to cater for the second-home owners and the more enlightened retired army officers.

What I loved about the book were the challenges of the cookery show (because I’m a huge Masterchef fan); the setting of the story, a rustic and picturesque England; locals and their produce; the food and its preparation; the absence of an over-the-top narration, there were slips and disappointments too; and finally the fairness of the ending.

It’s been long since I read about the innocence and purity of love, the good-naturedness of friends, the tugging of heartstrings by nature, the support of family, and the achieving of a dream however compromised it may be.

All in all, Recipe for Love made me really happy. It was plain, simple joy. If you’re looking to be delighted at the hands of a paperback, Recipe for Love it should be.

Swallows skimmed the surface catching flies and wagtails went about their business reminding Zoe of a poem she’d learnt in childhood. From deeper in the woodland a bird sang…



  1. This post is dedicated to TameSheWolf.
  2. I love the book cover of this book. It’s perfect. 🙂
  3. I’m definitely reading more of Katie Fforde.

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