Sunday, May 8, 2011
An anonymous gift sends a woman on a journey she never could have anticipated.
One afternoon, Julia Evarts and her five-year-old daughter, Gracie, arrive home to find an unexpected gift on the front porch: a homemade loaf of Amish Friendship Bread and a simple note: I hope you enjoy it. Also included are a bag of starter, instructions on how to make the bread herself, and a request to share it with others. Still reeling from a personal tragedy that left her estranged from the sister who was once her best friend, Julia remains at a loss as to how to move on with her life. She’d just as soon toss the anonymous gift, but to make Gracie happy, she agrees to bake the bread.
When Julia meets two newcomers to the small town of Avalon, Illinois, she sparks a connection by offering them her extra bread starter. Widow Madeline Davis is laboring to keep her tea salon afloat while Hannah Wang de Brisay, a famed concert cellist, is at a crossroads, her career and marriage having come to an abrupt end. In the warm kitchen of Madeline’s tea salon, the three women forge a friendship that will change their lives forever.
In no time, everyone in Avalon is baking Amish Friendship Bread. But even as the town unites for a benevolent cause and Julia becomes ever closer to her new friends, she realizes the profound necessity of confronting the painful past she shares with her sister.
About life and loss, friendship and community, food and family, Friendship Bread tells the uplifting story of what endures when even the unthinkable happens.
A charming, heartwarming story. You will laugh and cry with Julia, Hannah and Madeline as you learn each woman's story, heartbreaks and regrets, and you will cheer as they discover joy and happiness among friends.
A lot of characters are introduced throughout the book and, at first, I was concerned that it would get confusing. It doesn't. The main, core characters stay the same throughout the story and the extra people we learn about all come together at the end in a fantastic show of small-town support and friendship. I didn't really like the prickly Edie, but as she is kind of the antagonist, I guess it's to be expected. She redeems herself which is nice.
I love Amish Friendship Bread. I'm not one for passing around starter bags, so I just keep them flattened in my freezer and bake a couple of loaves whenever I feel like it. For some, a bag of Friendship Bread starter is a death knell and only good for a big dose of guilt and pressure. I personally think it's a delicious treat and it never lasts long at my house. I thoroughly enjoyed reading a story based around Friendship Bread. Darien Gee completely captures the essence of community, friendship and good food. This is a delightful story and one I can easily recommend.
My only complaint is the present tense narrative. I hate present tense more than I hate first-person, if that's possible! It's so awkward and I don't understand why writers choose it. I find myself distracted and annoyed while reading and, for me anyway, it detracts from the story, which is sad because this is a terrific story.
I love the inclusion of Amish Friendship Bread recipes at the end of the book. It never occurred to me that I could use the batter as a base for other things. What an awesome idea! I'm excited to try some of these new recipes. I think this book would make a lovely gift for a friend and if you gave it with a bag of starter, all the better!
Thanks to Cheryl of Pump Up Your Book Promotion for the opportunity to review this book. You can learn more about Darien Gee here. You can purchase your own copy here.
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