June 19, 2013

How to Bake a Perfect LIfe

                                                     TBR Challenge June
Title: How To Bake a Perfect Life
Author: Barbara O'Neal
Published: Bantam 2012
Format: Kindle edition
Pages: 416
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Award: RITA for Best Novel with Strong Romantic Elements (2012)
Source: Own e-book.

Summary from Goodreads:
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.

My thoughts:
First thoughts - I hate 1st person POV and told in the present tense.  I usually avoid these books, although I have to admit I have enjoyed the ones I have persevered with.  This one had both, and as it was near $10 on my Kindle I wasn't going to give up on it.  (Note to self, download the 1st chapter in future, don't be lazy!)

That said, this was an enjoyable book!  There were great characters - Ramona, fortyish and with quite a life history, determined and gutsy.  Her daughter Sophia who is pregnant, happily married with a step daughter and suddenly faced with  a husband facing a long recovery, with life never to be the same.  Like her mother, gutsy and determined as well.  Step daughter Katie is a lost soul, but with the help of an adorable dog - Merlin and the mysterious old lady, plus all the love and care from Ramona she begins to face up to real life.  The third gutsy and determined female in this book.  Ramona's family are both a blessing and a curse and the book details Ramona's love/hate relationship with them.  Jonah is the love interest and Ramona's and Jonah's story is slowly and satisfyingly developed.

If you enjoy baking bread, then this might be a book for you.  There is a recipe at the beginning of every chapter.  Ramona bakes her own bread and has a starter that has come from Ireland with her great grandmother.  She runs a bakery and through most of the book is on the brink of failure as money woes mount.  


  1. Ooooh, I love first person! May have to check this one out.

    1. It is strange how different POV affect us, one woman's poison, another's joy!

  2. This does sound like it could be good. I'm not a huge "women's fiction" reader, but I do love Barbara Samuel's writing.

    1. This is Barbara O'Neal, I have yet to read one by Barbara Samuel, but I must.

  3. I enjoyed this book. Love how the author works in her love of food in her books.

    1. Bingo again Nise! Yes it is a very cosy, foody book. A good read!

  4. I'm not big on women's fiction but I love books set in bakeries, they always seem so cosy.

  5. I'd probably get this just for the bread recipes! :) Thanks for the review!


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