Friendship Bread: A Novel by Darien Gee
From the Inside Flap:
“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.”
This was a book I had considered for my book club, but hesitated to do so because there are several serious issues in the story and we were looking for something light to read. It’s a great book and I might recommend for a later read for the book club.
What I liked about the book: You learn a lot about several members in the town, not just the main character. It was rather like reading a series of short stories that made up one big novel. The story has a good flow. And the characters have a lot of depth. They are not perfect, in fact they have many flaws, but that makes them more real. I liked how the author wrapped everything up at the end – bringing the story full circle. And I liked that it included recipes for Amish Friendship Bread.
What I didn’t like about the book: There wasn’t anything that I really didn’t like. In the beginning I was a little confused by Julia’s treatment of her husband and I wanted some sort of explanation, but as the story went along I realize that things we do in grief, often make sense to others and sometimes there is just no true understanding of it.
I listened to this book on audio, but because I wanted to try some of the recipes I quickly grabbed a print copy from the library. I had baked Amish Friendship bread before, but had not tried some of the non-traditional recipes. Of course, I now feel like the town of Avalon – my house has been taken over by AFB starter. My family absolutely loves AFB Brownies, Strawberry Bread, Monster Cookies and Triple Chocolate Bread. These recipes I found on the Friendship Bread Kitchen. They even have a recipe for gluten-free starter, which I tried as an experiment for a friend who has switched to a gluten free diet. The recipes are different, but good.
And what will I do with the Amish Friendship Bread Starter that ate Colorado Springs – freeze it. Until I read the book I didn’t know that was possible.
This is an all around good read – an excellent choice for a beach read or a book club read. I liked this book so much that I added it to my R.A.K. wish list. Wendy at Wall to Wall Books was kind enough to grant my wish.