I’ll say it again, over and over again – I love a good book, and I especially love a good book that portrays and celebrates all that is unique and appealing about New Mexico. I first wrote about Barbara O’Neal last January (http://ilovenewmexico.wordpress.com/2010/01/02/the-lost-recipe-for-happiness/). I stumbled across “The Lost Recipe for Happiness” at Hastings in Clovis as part of the plunder I chose with my birthday gift card from the Harris Law Firm.
That book sat in a pile that ended up on my bedside table (the ubiquitous pile – there are always seven or eight books sitting there, comforting me with their endless potential – and now my Kindle sits atop the pile. . .) and when I finally picked it up and started reading, I was instantly in love with Barbara O’Neal and her character Elena. Read the blog post – that was some good stuff, finding that book.
And then I found a second O’Neal novel – “The Secret of Everything” (according to O’Neal’s website www.barbaraoneal.com, there’s now a third novel just released). Whereas “The Lost Recipe. . .” was set in swanky Aspen, “The Secret of Everything” is set in a fictional town (listen folks, this place is so Taos/Santa Fe you’ll instantly recognize it) in northern New Mexico. And while the setting is perfectly quintessential New Mexico, the characters and the story are by far the most compelling part of the book.
There’s a heroine trying to find her equilibrium after a recent tragedy, a widower with three fascinating young daughters, a dad with ties to the hippie commune that used to exist on the fringes of town, secrets, hiking, a wise and understanding priest, a malevolent ghost, and best of all, 100 Breakfasts, the cafe on the plaza where everyone meets and eats in an attempt to find the answers to life’s questions. Just like “The Lost Recipe. . . “, O’Neal sprinkles breakfast recipes throughout the book, and the food lends to the healing of everyone’s heart in one way or another.
Here’s a quote I found on O’Neal’s website – it says exactly what I believe about food: “Food, like love and sex and children, is one of the most powerful cornerstones in our lives, and a great dish is a moment of pure love, prepared, offered, accepted and devoured.”
“The Secret of Everything” becomes, almost immediately, a book that you can’t put down. The food and the people she meets in Los Ladronas help to heal the heroine, but so does the landscape. The skies, the mountains, even the river. . .well, I can’t give it all away. Buy the book. Enjoy. As in “The Lost Recipe. . .”, there are several great dogs in this book. You’re gonna love it.
Maybe tomorrow I’ll post one of the recipes from 100 breakfasts. Stay tuned. . .