A Pinch of Ooh La La
By: Renee Swindle
Publisher: New American Library
Publication Date: August 2014
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Renee Swindle’s latest novel, A Pinch of Ooh La La is a delicious page-turner!
Oakland, California bakery owner Abbey Ross needs more than a pinch of ‘ooh la la’ to jump-start her stagnant love life. Four years is more than enough time to lament over what could have been since she and the womanizing love of her life, artist Avery, parted ways. Besides, his cheating ways were foundational in Abbey picking herself up and starting over. After successfully completing her culinary studies in France, she returns to Oakland and opens her bakery, Scratch. Business was great and life was better than fine. At least she thought it was. Her best friend Bendrix had a thing or two to say about this...
Midnight wanderers and grafitti ‘tag masters’ of the inner city abandoned buildings of days gone by, Abbey and Bendrix had come a long way from those high school days. In many respects, their lives were on a parallel course. It seems Bendrix was lacking in the love category too after his lover Anthony moved on. Not important... keep the focus off him and on Abbey. When Bendrix convinces Abbey to sign up on an online dating service, little did she know how soon the boomerang would return with Mr. Perfect, Samuel Howard.
Organized chaos is an apt description of Abbey’s family. Most children have one mother and one father. While Abbey may have had only one father, she had more than enough mothers (five, actually). Then there were her siblings...more than a gaggle ranging in ages from their thirty’s down to infancy. It was a family filled with love, harmony, and a whole lotta jazz. Her dad was famed jazz master, Lincoln Ross and music was the end all, be all. Perhaps it was time for Abbey to take a closer look at the reasons why she may have been looking (and finding) love in all the wrong places...
After reading A Pinch of Ooh La La, Ms. Swindle’s first two novels (Please Please Please and Shake Down the Stars), are now on my list of must reads! To say this book is hilariously funny is an understatement. Without giving a spoiler of the opening scene, the subject matter of the conversation that unfolds between characters Abbey and Bendrix is nothing less than brilliant humor. Renee Swindle knows how to set up a scene and infuse dialogue that puts the reader in the moment. She has exceptional ability when it comes to writing believable dialogue. Each character has an audible voice. I connected often with her characters and could imagine myself into the very places and scenes she described. Her conversational tone is spot on. The larger than life jazz talent of character Lincoln Ross is beyond credible given the attention and detail Swindle carefully crafted in developing his persona and musical talent. It is abundantly clear that she not only did her homework in researching the history of some of the jazz greats, but her love of the music affirms the tangible connection she has with this character in particular. This book gets an A+ in delivering what a book is supposed to deliver: the perfect 'escape.' Thank you for a fantastic read Ms. Swindle!
Quill says: A Pinch of Ooh La La is a sassy blend of love and family and a book that will have you laughing out loud on more than one occasion before you get to 'The End.'