Saturday, January 21, 2012

Review: Angelina's Bachelors

About the Book:
Far too young to be a widow, Angelina D’Angelo suddenly finds herself facing a life without her beloved husband, Frank. Late one night shortly after the funeral, she makes her way down to the kitchen and pours all of her grief and anger into the only outlet she has left—her passion for cooking. In a frenzy of concentration and swift precision, she builds layer upon layer of thick, rich lasagna, braids loaves of yeasty bread, roasts plump herb-rubbed chicken; she makes so much food that she winds up delivering the spoils to the neighbors in her tight-knit Italian community in South Philadelphia.

Retiree Basil Cupertino, who has just moved in with his kindly sister across the street, is positively smitten with Angelina’s food. In a stroke of good fortune, Basil offers Angelina (not only husbandless but unemployed) a job cooking for him—two meals a day, six days a week, in exchange for a handsome salary. Soon, word of her irresistible culinary prowess spreads and she finds herself cooking for seven bachelors—and in the process discovers the magical power of food to heal, to bring people together . . . and maybe even to provide a second chance at love.

Filled to the brim with homemade warmth, Angelina’s Bachelors is a sweet tale of overcoming grief, redefining family, and following your heart—through food.

My Comments:
This is one that caught my eye when reading book blogs.  I found it at our library last week and must say that it has been a nice change from what has gotten to be a pretty steady diet of romance novels.  Losing your husband must be traumatic for any happily married woman, but Angelina lost hers suddenly when he was relatively young.  I enjoyed watching her use her talents not only to move beyond her grief but also to help others find their way in life.  

The book is about 350 pages long, but it read more quickly than that for me because it featured many pages of complicated multi-ingredient recipes--the kind that take hours to cook and dirty every pot I own.  If you are a foodie, then maybe you'd enjoy reading them in detail; I just skimmed.

Angelina is an Italian-American Catholic.  The author is Brian O'Reilly.  With a name like that, I suspect there is some Catholic in his background; however, there were a couple of points that stood out to me, that made me wonder whether he was taking literary license (and if so, why) or if he really isn't that familiar with Catholicism.  Angelina is at a baptism.  The Godfather answers for the baby, not the parent, and the words, other than the actual "I baptize you..." were unfamiliar to me.  Salt was placed on the baby's tongue, as was done pre-Vatican II, and the "I baptize you" part was done in Latin, followed by an English exchange "The Lord be with you" "And also with you".  

As someone married to an Italian-American, I enjoyed reading about the custom of eating seven fish dishes on Christmas Eve.  My husband said he has heard of eating fish; but not seven dishes.  A parallel was drawn between the seven fish dishes and the seven sacraments.  I'll share them with you:
  • Clams and oysters because God is your armor from trouble
  • Salt fish because God's Word gives a flavor to the world
  • Calamari because God can reach out his arms and find you
  • Eels because God's Word goes so quickly
  • Smelts because even the smallest will be as the biggest when the Kingdom comes
  • Flounder because God's eyes are always open
Since it was an enjoyable story not claiming to be religious fiction, I'll give O'Brien a bit of a pass on the religious stuff and give the book a B.


  1. Not available at our e-library... but I"ve added to my TBR list

  2. Sounds like the perfect foodie read...can't wait!

  3. I've wanted to read this one and you make it sound really good!

    2 Kids and Tired Books


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