Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Review of "Bread Alone"

After a disappointing November (in terms of posting) - I'm back! Expect a flood of tired Thanksgiving recipes, and even more eyesore Thanksgiving leftover recipes. Dear friends, you may want to turn away right now!
But first, my review of Bread Alone, which ironically was MY choice for November for the Books That Make Us Cook club.

And I was late for the party...My OWN party.

Judith Ryan Hendricks is the author of this book, and the protagonist is 31 year old Wynter who has just been callously dumped by her self-righteous, yuppie husband and is now forced to fend for herself.

Despite having a supportive, strong mother and the companionship offered by her long time friend CM, she is troubled by the memories of her handsome and wonderful (now deceased) father and why her husband fell so short of that ideal. Blaming herself for the collapse of her marriage, Wyn finds it difficult to move on, and falls into a weeping, grovelling, bratty mess.

She eventually is spurred on to find herself and stand on her own two feet, more out of necessity as her mother decides to re-marry and start a new life, her ex shows no sign of returning despite a last minute seduction ploy by Wyn, and her friend CM moves on with her own job obligations and love interest. Wynter comes across as willful and spoiled at times, but the hurtful way in which her ex deals with her redeems her behavior, and you fight along with her, in a way hoping that she will exact the revenge he so richly deserves.

However, Wyn finds the high road, and delves into some serious introspection, especially after becoming the object of admiration from two male suitors, one of which was a little unnerving for me (warning SPOILER ALERT) - given he was "potentially" a family member.

All through out the journey, Wyn falls back on her first love, being a bread maker or boulanger. We travel across her apprenticeship in France, to her own way of handling crises by baking (now, haven't we seen that theme before?) and finally to her involvement in a small mom-and-pop bakery in Seattle and her relationship with the patrons there.

I do have to credit the author for the level of detail that she went into in describing the art of bread baking. I came out of the book knowing a lot more about the science behind baking and some serious tips to implement in my own kitchen.

However, the book was a little dreary towards the end, I found some of the later chapters where with the dalliances back and forth with her suitors quite boring, and the ending was quite predictable and a let-down. But in that vein, I'm also the one who would have liked an entire chapter devoted to different forms of torture exacted on the cheating ex! Hell hath no fury, you say ;-)

I enjoyed the first half of the book, with its exacting references of California and Wyn's vulnerable, emotional state. The scene on the beach and the drive along Pacific Coast Highway as Wyn struggles to put her life together struck a chord (mainly because I had just travelled to the same area just weeks earlier!). Later on, when the book shifts to Seattle and Wyn's new life, the book becomes dreary and gloomy, ironically taking on the overhanging clouds of grey that mark the Seattle landscape, and the book lost its appeal to me.

Before Jaya clobbers me over the head for not simultaneously posting a recipe, I will seek advance immunity, eat crow and post my recipe from the book shortly...


Bombay Foodie said...

Great review. And great choice, everyone enjoyed the book!

suvi said...

lovely review, ann! agree with you completely on the second half, just seemed to drag its feet. Can't wait to read the sequel of the book though.

Desisoccermom said...

No clobbering Ann. This time I grant you immunity since I didn't turn up for your party at all. Nov. was a slow month for me too and I didn't get around to even reading the book! So I guess the joke/ shoe is on me.

Your review is great and like I said on the other review posts, I wish I had read the book. Cause I like nothing better than a book that starts out good and then turns bad. :)