FIRST THOUGHTS

Newly released from Anita Shreve, Lisa Abend and Brian O’Connor

Rescue

Anita Shreve

Little, Brown; £19.99 Kindle; £6.99

Review: Denise Bailey

ANITA SHREVE’S latest book, set in Vermont, explores the seemingly destructive relationship between Webster, a young paramedic, Sheila, an alcoholic drifter whom Webster previously rescued from a car accident, and their daughter, Rowan.

Webster cannot save Sheila and is forced to drive her away for the sake of their daughter. But as Rowan grows, Webster worries he might not be able to save her from a similarly addictive fate. Life at home gets progressively worse and Sheila reappears, causing seismic shifts.

Sadly, for fans of Shreve, Rescue is disappointing. She focuses her attention on Webster’s job at the expense of the main story and the conclusion seems an afterthought.

By the end, you’ve no empathy with anyone, which is annoying. Not one of Shreve’s best.

The Sorcerer’s Apprentices: A Season At El Bulli

Lisa Abend

Simon & Schuster, £17.99

Review: Zahra Saeed

WELCOME to El Bulli, an unassuming restaurant in Catalonia that’s been voted the world’s best restaurant a record five times.

With a purported waiting list of one million, and due to close its doors permanently in July, this behind-the-scenes exposé is probably the closest most of us will get to experiencing its culinary greatness.

Journalist Lisa Abend spends six months in El Bulli’s kitchens, charting the highs and lows of the unpaid stagiaires, or interns, who, although hailing from top restaurants around the world, are now mere cogs in head chef Ferran Adria’s well-oiled gastronomic machine.

Abend stokes and maintains the reader’s interest by providing not only an insight into the creative minds and processes that bring about the most innovate haute cuisine, but by also recounting the personal lives and struggles of the staff. We learn about Luke, for instance, who started off as a cook in the South Korean army.

This is a heightened, no-holds-barred Masterchef in written form, and is a must-read for anyone who is fascinated by the secretive world of the professional kitchen.

Bloodline

Brian O’Connor

Poolbeg Press; €15.99

Review: Stephen Cadogan

LIKE one of its equine heroes, Bloodline started slowly but got back in the race and ended up a winner.

Sure enough, the jacket has a cliched “Beats Dick Francis at his own game” line.

It’s a bit early to say if first time novelist Brian O’Connor is the reincarnation of the late jump jockey turned novelist whose 40 international bestseller books were mostly set in the horse racing world.

Certainly, Francis couldn’t have written Bloodline — because it’s very much a modern Irish story.

The story opens with an undercooked account of a car crash, but then settles down to a fast-paced yarn, with particularly impressive view-from-the-saddle descriptive accounts of jump racing action on the track — no doubt inspired by the author’s experiences while he worked in racing stables early on in his career.


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