A second novel (after Leaving Patrick, 2001) from the doyenne of British cooking serves up a potentially zesty if uneven mix of sibling rivalry and true love.
Two sisters, the good Poppy and the sort of bad Carrie, grow up in South Africa on a bushveld farm, Kaia Moya. When their mother falls ill, the family moves to England, and, hiring handsome young Karl as manager, turns the farm into a game preserve with accommodations for wealthy tourists. As the story opens, Poppy is a famous actress, married to an Italian-born architect, Eduardo. and mother of two children—Angelina and toddler Tom—and about to adopt Lorato, an African refugee the same age as Tom. Younger sister Carrie, in her early 30s, has a catering business, writes about food, and arranges photo shoots. Single, with lots of lovers, she drinks too much, takes drugs, and envies Poppy’s seemingly perfect life. In childhood, she was always getting into trouble for wild behavior, and she’s the same now. Poppy loves her children, and soon has Lorato becoming the devoted companion of Tom. She loves acting, too, and her two perfect houses, one in London, one in the country. Everything is perfect, in fact, except for tired and preoccupied Eduardo. When Carrie, in Paris, sees him with another woman, she’s furious but is soon having an affair with him. When the family goes to Kaia Moya for their annual visit, Carrie is determined to wrest Eduardo away from Poppy, but Karl tries to warn her off. Back in London, a deeply hurt Poppy finds out about the affair and tackles Carrie. As the two sisters keep a cool but correct distance, Lorato, in Carrie’s charge, nearly drowns, and Carrie starts drinking so heavily that she loses commissions. She heads back to Kaia Moya and sets her sights on Karl. Poppy is as jealous as Carrie, but not to worry: this is a meal with a sweet ending.
Light fare, though with lots of mouthwatering descriptions of yummy food.