October 09, 2011
Friendship Bread by Darien Gee
This book was entirely charming and definitely one of those feel good types of books. While its probably not a classic or masterpiece, in its own way its just as good as any of those types of books. Maybe I'm biased because I love food and heartwarming stories, but I think this book rates five stars easily. For those not familiar with Friendship Bread, it is a fermented starter that is lovingly cared for for 10 days, and then split into four with the owner keeping one to bake and three to give away and keep the starter circulating. If you've ever been the recipient of a starter you know it makes awesome bread, but gets a bit overwhelming at times.
There are many characters and happenings in this book but one thing remains solid; friendship bread is the primary character in this novel. From Julia, who has been in a deep depression ever since her son died to Hannah, a talented cellist who is going through a separation with her husband, friendship bread changes the outlook of each of these women and helps them be strong on their own. They find solace in each other and at Madeline's tea shop, where the kindly Madeline plys them with baked goods and friendship. There is also Edie, who is desperately wanting to report on a good story and who is lukewarm on accepting advances of friendship from Livvy (who happens to be Julia's estranged sister). There are several other characters short stories as well in the novel that are used to show how the friendship bread starter is being passed around town. While the story has much to do about delicious food and the bread itself, it is more wrapped around the people that make the small town so unique.
The characters in this book are wonderfully and all delightfully real. They have their flaws and make mistakes, but they strive to work through them. They just seem very human in a wonderful sort of way. I especially was enchanted with Madeline, the owner of the tea shop, because she seemed like someone I would be friends with and real life and she could cook some fabulous sounding dishes.
The writing was good. I'm not a fan of the tense Gee used but after awhile I was able to ignore it and really get into the story. In fact, I could barely put the book down I enjoyed it so much. It is an easy story to read and filled with emotion, friendship and love. There's nothing offensive in the writing and any age groups would be fine for this novel. The pace is done well in addition and I was glad to see that Gee included an epilogue for the readers to follow up on the story and characters. It was a pleasant surprise.
I'm very pleased that I got a chance to read this book. I would definitely read other books by Gee and will be on the lookout for more works from her. I highly recommend this book; especially to those who love food and cooking books.
363 pages + recipes and tips