REVIEW: Recipe for a Charmed Life by Rachel Linden

Posted January 15th, 2024 by in Blog, Review, Women's Fic - Chick-lit / 11 comments


In Recipe for a Charmed Life by Rachel Linden, Georgia May Jackson has spent years training and honing her skills in the kitchen with her sights set on becoming head chef in a Paris restaurant. She already has two strikes against her: she’s American and she’s a woman. But just when Georgia is so close to reaching her dream that she can almost taste it, everything implodes. In one fell swoop, she loses her current job, her dream job, her boyfriend, and her apartment. To make matters even worse, she wakes the next morning having lost all sense of taste–aside from everything now tasting bitter. Georgia knows there’s irony in that fact somewhere. So, with nothing left holding her in Paris, she travels to San Juan Island off the coast of Washington state to visit her mother. A woman Georgia hasn’t seen since she was five years old.

“Life is a mixed bag.”
“I’m learning that family is a mixed bag,” Georgia added with a dry smile. “A complicated, pain in the ass at times, loving, frustrating, yet worthwhile mixed bag.”
Star nodded. “Isn’t that the truth.”

The beauty of the island entrances Georgia right away. And it’s a pretty wild thing to be standing in front of the woman she barely remembers but who is looking at her like she just got every present she’s ever dreamed of. Star and Georgia take the time they’re given to talk and get to know each other. But as the truth about Star’s past and the gifts the women in her family receive comes to light, Georgia is left wondering how she can find that spark she’s always felt in the kitchen again–and where her future now lies. Because as she falls in with the rhythm of the island, is charmed by the locals, and even begins to fall for Cole, the mysterious fisherman who is their neighbor, Georgia isn’t sure her original goals still fit her like they once did.

“Georgia May Jackson,” he said, his ice-blue eyes boring into hers with a look of such open longing it made her catch her breath, “I have never met someone like you. I think you hung the moon.”

RECIPE FOR A CHARMED LIFE was another superbly emotional novel by Rachel Linden that wrapped me up in its thoughtful prose and took me on a memorable journey right alongside the main characters.

‘The real recipe for a charmed life was simple. Not easy, but simple. To do the work that filled her with wonder and delight. To walk lightly through the world, giving generously to those around her. To love all in her care as best she could.’

CW: View Spoiler »

I have to start off saying that Rachel Linden writes some of the most delectable, decadent stories when it comes to the relationships *and* the recipes in each of her books. As a wannabe foodie who grew up watching Julia Child on TV, I felt a kinship with our heroine Georgia right away, as her life revolved around becoming a successful chef in Paris just like her idol. And I got a kick out of her asking herself “What would Julia do?” when faced with tough situations. It honestly felt like there were nothing *but* tough situations for everyone involved in RECIPE FOR A CHARMED LIFE at times. Thankfully though, after a lot of hard work, soul searching, and honesty–with themselves and their loved ones–I can say that each character did come out the other side all the better for it.

This was told mainly from Georgia’s POV with Cole’s perspective scattered in at pivotal moments. I loved getting those brief but impactful glimpses into his thoughts on everything. But Georgia truly stole the show. She was a force to be reckoned with and had a sense of purpose to become the best female chef in the business, so it was quite something to watch how her plans changed after her world imploded. Especially after losing her sense of taste. From learning the truth about her mother abandoning her to the gifts the women in her family developed to learning to trust herself and her instincts again, Georgia evolved greatly by the ending. And it felt like it was who she was truly meant to be all along.

I should mention that there were some heavier subjects tackled that might be difficult for sensitive readers, so please check the CW if so. Linden used these mainly in both Georgia’s mother’s and Cole’s backstories, but it was done with a lot of care and only enough details given to get the point across. Otherwise, I think readers will find this to be a moving story about family, being honest with ourselves, and love in all its various forms.

QOTD: Have you ever tried the recipes included in any books you’ve read? If so, how did it turn out?

Book Info:

Publication: Published: January 9th, 2024 | Berkley |

After a day of unrivaled disappointments, a promising young chef finds every bite of food suddenly tastes bitter. To save her career, she travels to the Pacific Northwest to reconnect with her estranged mom, and discovers a family legacy she never suspected in this delicious novel from the bestselling author of The Magic of Lemon Drop Pie.

American chef Georgia May Jackson has one goal—to run her own restaurant in Paris. After a grueling decade working in Parisian kitchens, she is on the cusp of success. But in one disastrous night, Georgia loses her sous-chef position, her French boyfriend, and her sense of taste! Renowned for her refined palate and daring use of bold flavors to create remarkable dishes, Georgia is devastated to discover her culinary gift has simply…vanished.

When she receives a surprising invitation from her estranged mother, Georgia flees to a small island near Seattle hoping the visit will help her regain her spark in the kitchen. There she tentatively reconnects with her mom, a free-spirited hippie eager to make up for her past mistakes. But there’s something about the enigmatic island Georgia just can’t piece together. Good luck charms keep appearing in the oddest places. Her neighbor is a puzzlingly antagonist (and annoyingly handsome) oyster farmer. And her mom keeps hinting at a mysterious family legacy.

With the clock ticking and time running out to win her dream job in Paris, Georgia begins to unravel some astonishing secrets that make her wonder if the true recipe for a charmed life might look—and taste—very different than she ever imagined.



11 Responses to “REVIEW: Recipe for a Charmed Life by Rachel Linden”

  1. Amy R

    Yes, I’ve made additions to a recipe I read in a book which I still use today.
    Thanks for the review.

  2. Glenda M

    Thanks so much for the review! I did try a recipe in a book once. As for how it turned out? Not so great. Turns out there were several ingredients missing from the published version.

  3. Felicia Fallon

    Recipe for a Charmed Life promises to be a heartwarming, charming story. I have not read anything by Ms Linden but I’m looking forward to getting acquainted with her works.

  4. Dianne Casey

    Yes, I have made some recipes from books I’ve read. Sounds like a great read, on my TBR list.

  5. psu1493

    Thank you for the review. This story sound good. I have tried a few recipes from stories and have enjoyed them.

  6. erahime

    I had noticed any recipes that are included in the books I read, and some had caught my attention. Yet I had never tried them, but I had copied a few so that I can use said recipes in the future.

    Thank you for this insightful review, Team HJ!

  7. Mary C

    Yes, I’ve made a few recipes included in books read and was happy with the results. On my TBR list.