How to Bake a Perfect Life: A Novel Paperback – Dec 21 2010
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"The Rita Award–winning author (as Barbara Samuel) of The Lost Recipe for Happiness returns with the absorbing story of Ramona Gallagher, a 40-year-old woman whose joy in running a bakery in Colorado Springs helps her transcend a life that's anything but perfect. Ramona has a prickly relationship with her large, restaurant-owning family and a deep love for her daughter, Sofia, who Ramona had as a teenager and is now grown and pregnant. When Sofia's husband is injured in Afghanistan and she flies to Germany to be with him, Ramona is left to care for Sofia's 13-year-old stepdaughter, Katie, a scrawny child whose drug-addicted mother is in jail. Over the summer, Ramona struggles to keep her business afloat and find some solid footing with her family, bonds with Katie, aches for what her daughter is enduring, and rekindles a romance from 25 years earlier. O'Neal's tale of strong-willed women and torn family loyalties is a cut above the standard women's fiction fare, held together by lovingly sketched characters and real emotion." —Publishers Weekly
“Envelopes you like the scent of warm bread, comforting and invigorating, full of love and forgiveness and possibility.” —Erica Bauermeister, bestselling author of The School of Essential Ingredients
“This book will have you smiling and crying and pining for an old love, or just a hunk of really good fresh-baked bread. I loved every single delicious bite.” —Jennie Shortridge, author of When She Flew
About the Author
Barbara O’Neal fell in love with food and restaurants at the age of fifteen, when she landed a job in a Greek café and served baklava for the first time. She sold her first novel in her twenties, and has also published under the names Barbara Samuel and Ruth Wind. Since then she has won a plethora of awards, including two Colorado Book Awards and six prestigious RITAs, including one for The Lost Recipe for Happiness. Her novels have been widely published in Europe and Australia, and she travels all over the world, presenting workshops, hiking hundreds of miles, and, of course, eating. She lives with her partner, a British endurance athlete, and their collection of cats and dogs, in Colorado Springs.See all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The creation of a book, much like the making of a loaf of bread, requires the careful combination and layering of many aspects--plot, structure, characterization, voice. "How To Bake A Perfect Life" takes all those elements and adds a dash of the unknown, a willingness to take a chance by focusing the story on an older heroine. There's a lot going on, but somehow Ms. O'Neal simply makes it work, and the result is one of the best books I've read in ages.
Thankfully, at last, a book worth finishing - and keeping on my bookshelf as well. I won't detail the plot or well-crafted characters, as others have sufficiently summed up those aspects. I merely wanted to put in my proverbial two cents and give this novel enthusiastic praise. (On another note, I don't understand the review regarding 'explicit sex,' as I don't recall any such elements in this novel, so please do not let that critique deter you from buying this book. Perhaps the reviewer was thinking of a different novel?)
The story slowly moves along with Ramona trying to keep her bakery business afloat and out of debt. Katie is trying to adjust to the new surroundings and Sofia is hoping her husband has a full speedy recovery.
Every now and then, I come across a highly recommended, 5-star rated book. But when I read it, I wonder what the praise was for. How to Bake a Perfect Life is that type of book. It wasn't a page turner for me. It was too easy to put down and reluctant to pick back up. The writing was well done but the story itself just fell flat in a predictable way. I thought the theme (relationship between a mother and daughter; the philosophy that it takes a village to raise a child) would draw me in. Unfortunately, it did not. I disagree with the village's recommendation. Meh!
There are 1 or 2 bedroom scenes but I didn't find anything overly explicit or inappropriate for the target audience. Because the book touches on themes of teenage pregnancy, depression, life struggles/disappointments, this is a book for women, not young teens. More importantly the scenes are woven into the story in a way that adds emotion/meaning to the plot as part of the evolution of a relationship..not just for the sake of adding sex. In fact, like other reviewers, it probably wouldn't have jumped out at me as having "sex scenes" if I hadn't seen it mentioned.
I didn't give it five stars because it isn't a book that I would read more than once nor is it earth shaking. But it is a book that I would share and pass along (if it weren't on my Kindle). I couldn't put it down and thoroughly enjoyed reading it. If you enjoy women's fiction, you should add How to Bake a Perfect Life to your reading list.