I love "foodie fiction." Love it! Probably because I love food and I love to read. Hmmm....deep explanation! Either way, I checked this book out the minute I saw it. Then I checked it out again, because I just knew that I would love it and therefore, have to share it with my mother. Okay, I think that particular tangent is over!
This is a pretty typical "women's lives and relationships" style book. There are several seemingly unrelated woman, each dealing with personal conflict or tragedy, each feeling isolated and guilty with what their life has become. One woman is trapped in mourning for the death of a child. One has recently been abandoned by her husband. One is mired in guilt for a single, life-changing mistake.
Then, a baggie of mysterious gooey stuff randomly appears, in a mailbox, passed to a child at school, on a desk at work. Each is irritated, confused, put off by this new complication in life. And yet, they start tending the starter, following the simple instruction, baking the bread, and something magical happens. Suddenly, they are sharing their extra bags of starter with others and forging new friendships or mending relationships over a slice of warm bread. Through the sharing of starter and recipes, these wounded women become stronger, learning to be more creative, forgiving, and empathic. As the friendships develop, the women's lives become interwoven in ways both expected and surprising.
I enjoyed this book. With that being said, it is not going to win any literary awards and I think that there were at times too many characters and subplots, making it a bit hard to follow. Overall though, it was a cute and fun read about the importance of friendship and forgiveness.
This book made me interested in Amish Friendship Bread. I was given a bag of starter a few years ago and remember it being pretty good. I also remember it being sort of a pain to unload the bags of "offspring" onto people though! But, after reading about the wonders of this bread and its many variations, I may give it a try again. I couldn't find a recipe for one that called for pudding mix (which was an ingredient in the book recipe) but I did find one that listed lots of yummy variations:
Also, if you do love "foodie fiction" or think you might, here are some other especially yummy titles:
Pomegranate Soup, and the sequel Rosewater and Soda Bread by Marsha Mehran
Garden Spells and The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen
Comfort Food by Kate Jacobs
The Food of Love by Anthony Capella
Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquival
This isn't a complete list at all, but it will whet your appetite!