Published: Random House NZ
Genre: Women's Fiction
Source: Own book
Esme has an adoring husband, a wonderful son, an evil goat, some angry bees and a suspicion that she will never be happy again. Even baking her precious sourdough no longer works its usual magic. All it does is transport Esme back to the salty little French bakery where she found and lost her first true love, Louis, the village boulanger. When a chance meeting with this bewitching morsel from her past breathes fresh hope into Esme's life, the grass starts to look greener on his side of the fence. But is Louis really the secret ingredient Esme needs for a blissful future? Or is the recipe for happiness closer to home?
By Bread Alone is a well written, well thought out story. Esme is a woman in crisis, although she'd rather everyone around her thought she is fine. Her husband Pog misses the sourdough bread she is so good at baking, her father-in-law grumps at her, her grandma gives her some advice and her four year old son Rory prefers to call her Esme.
The family lives in a tall house, called House of the Clouds, with the kitchen at the top in Suffolk. There has been some effort made to live an idyllic country life but it doesn't all work out perfectly. Esme is not really happy and there is a part of her that longs for the success she might have had in London in the publishing/TV business. She wonders if she should have pursued her first love relationship with a Frenchman - Louis. She confides her discontent to her gay friend- Charlie, who sets out to play God in this realm.
After awhile it becomes obvious there is a dark cloud hanging over the house, and Esme allows no one to speak of it. Her husband suggests they look for counselling but Esme shies away. She doesn't want to talk about it.
A series of events lands Esme in some comprising situations, but there are people there who are supportive and gradually the dark secret is taken out of the cupboard and acknowledged and explored. Everyone's guilt, unhappiness and beliefs are taken out and aired, and in the doing of it life starts to look up for Esme and her family.
For some reason I didn't find myself wholly engaged with the book, I didn't hook in very well to it. I am not sure why, I was pleased to see how it all worked out, and enjoyed one little surprise at the end which made me chuckle because I had missed any clues completely.