Professional baker Ramona Gallagher is a master of an art that has sustained her through the most turbulent times, including a baby at fifteen and an endless family feud. But now Ramona’s bakery threatens to crumble around her. Literally. She’s one water-heater disaster away from losing her grandmother’s rambling Victorian and everything she’s worked so hard to build.
When Ramona’s soldier son-in-law is wounded in Afghanistan, her daughter, Sophia, races overseas to be at his side, leaving Ramona as the only suitable guardian for Sophia’s thirteen-year-old stepdaughter, Katie. Heartbroken, Katie feels that she’s being dumped again—this time on the doorstep of a woman out of practice with mothering. Ramona relies upon a special set of tools—patience, persistence, and the reliability of a good recipe—when rebellious Katie arrives.
And as she relives her own history of difficult choices, Ramona shares her love of baking with the troubled girl. Slowly, Katie begins to find self-acceptance and a place to call home. And when a man from her past returns to offer a second chance at love, Ramona discovers that even the best recipe tastes better when you add time, care, and a few secret ingredients of your own.
And here is Tabs' review:
How To Bake A Perfect Life is very much a novel about persevering when life throws you more curves than you honestly think you could possibly survive. It is also very much a novel about mother-daughter relationships and the ways in which they bind. How some can bolster you up in the toughest of times, some can wane and ebb in strength but still manage to keep a steady underlying pulse, and others can make you feel like you are weighted down and drowning.
While Ramona and her continued salvation through the art of breadmaking is the lynchpin of this story, there are five generations worth of women going through their own journeys and finding their own individual salvations as well. They struggle with having done things that can’t be atoned for, with forgiving but not forgetting, and with feeling futile and powerless in the face of tragedy and lost promise.
This is a lovely book.
Every time I read it I get lost in the language. I get lost in the descriptions of Spanish guitars, of mother doughs and Old World breads, and of dahlias and flowers that look like dancing ladies.
Every time I read it I get lost in the emotion. I get lost in the sorrows of parents who grieve for lost futures, in the anger of resentful siblings, in the tenderness of rediscovered love, and in the joy of connection.
I have loved many a book by Barabara O’Neal/Barbara Samuels and How To Bake A Perfect Life is yet another knock out of the park.