By Darien Gee
Publish Date: April 5, 2011
An anonymous gift sends a woman on a journey she never could have anticipated.
One afternoon, Julia Evarts and her five-year-old daughter, Gracie, arrive home to find an unexpected gift on the front porch: a homemade loaf of Amish Friendship Bread and a simple note: I hope you enjoy it. Also included are a bag of starter, instructions on how to make the bread herself, and a request to share it with others.
Still reeling from a personal tragedy that left her estranged from the sister who was once her best friend, Julia remains at a loss as to how to move on with her life. She’d just as soon toss the anonymous gift, but to make Gracie happy, she agrees to bake the bread.
When Julia meets two newcomers to the small town of Avalon, Illinois, she sparks a connection by offering them her extra bread starter. Widow Madeline Davis is laboring to keep her tea salon afloat while Hannah Wang de Brisay, a famed concert cellist, is at a crossroads, her career and marriage having come to an abrupt end. In the warm kitchen of Madeline’s tea salon, the three women forge a friendship that will change their lives forever.
In no time, everyone in Avalon is baking Amish Friendship Bread. But even as the town unites for a benevolent cause and Julia becomes ever closer to her new friends, she realizes the profound necessity of confronting the painful past she shares with her sister.
I received an ARC of FRIENDSHIP BREAD from Librarything and couldn’t wait to read it. Several times over the course of my adult life, I have made friendship bread…most recently within the last few months. So this story really intrigued me.
This novel involves marriage, as well as divorce, grief and loss, friendships, and families.
At first it was a little tough to keep the characters straight. There are 5 main characters as well as several secondary characters plus others who live in the community. But, once I got into the story I was able to keep track of each one.
I really identified with Julia and Livvy and often times I was brought to tears by their story. My two sisters are extranged and the story just reminded me how sad that makes me. Julia’s grief over losing their 10 year old son was written so well that I could feel her pain at every turn of the page. As the mom of a 10 year old boy, I can’t imagine the depth of her loss.
I loved how the story was about the five main characters as well as the whole community of Avalon. I felt like this story could have been written about the community I live in. The town of Avalon really could be Anytown, USA and the story reminds us to check in with our neighbors and find ways to support eachother through all our struggles.
Throughout the novel, I laughed, I cried, I cringed, I got mad, and I wanted to jump up and make Friendship Bread! I love how really, the bread became a character itself. You couldn’t wait to see where the bread would turn up next.
The end of the book is filled with recipes for the Amish Friendship Bread starter, how to share new starters, and other varieties of Friendship Bread, for example, butterscotch friendship bread, or chocolate caramel brownies. After traveling the next two weekends, I plan to get my starter going!
Darian Gee has a winning novel with FRIENDSHIP BREAD. She has written other novels under the name of Mia King and after reading this one, I definitely need to check out her other novels. I am looking forward to keeping up with the people of Avalon. I just hope she doesn’t keep us waiting too long!
For more on FRIENDSHIP BREAD, check out the website http://www.friendshipbreadkitchen.com/. You can also find more discussion and information at www.facebook.com.fbkitchen/ or at www.twitter.com/fbkitchen. I have interacted with all three of these sites and have found them helpful and enjoyable.
I give this 5 out of 5 stars. I highly recommend this story to book clubs as well as individual readers. There are so many topics and situations to discuss. And, of course, your book club should also have plenty of Friendship Bread to go around!
I received an Advanced Readers Copy of this book. I was not compensated in any other way for my review. This review is my honest opinion. I would not review anything that wouldn’t benefit me or my family.