Thursday, April 19, 2012
A decade later, Annie bakes to fill the void left in her heart by her mother's death, and a painful secret jeopardizes Julia's engagement to the man she loves. A chance reunion prompts the unlikely duo to open a cupcakery, but when a mysterious saboteur opens up old wounds, they must finally face the truth about their past or risk losing everything. -- William Morrow
This is going to sound terribly shallow, but I picked up HOW TO EAT A CUPCAKE by Meg Donohue solely based on its cover. Isn't it adorable with all those gorgeous cupcakes on the front of the book? Once I read the back cover, though, I thought it actually sounded like a cute story. Every once in awhile I enjoy a sweet story about friendship; and with cupcakes involved, I figured how could I go wrong?
HOW TO EAT A CUPCAKE tells the story of Annie and Julia, two women who were once the best of childhood friends. Annie and Julia grew up in the same house; however, they most definitely weren't on even playing field. Annie's mother was hired help to Julia's wealthy family, yet, with the help of Annie's mom, the girls still managed to from a strong friendship. However, a major event (or two) occurred during their high school years, and their friendship ended on a very bitter note.
The novel picks up ten years later, when the girls are in their late 20s. Annie is a baker who dreams about owning her own bakery while still struggling to come to terms with her mother's death; and Julia is outwardly successful in both her career and her personal life -- she's even engaged to an ideal man. (Do I need to tell you that both women are dealing with some major baggage?) When Annie and Julia meet up again, they decide to open a trendy new cupcake shop and put their personal differences aside; however, their hurt feelings about the past (and the present) make that extremely difficult.
HOW TO EAT A CUPCAKE was a sweet read and I did enjoy it. I'm not sure I'd say it was an outstanding literary novel, but honestly, I wasn't expecting that. For the most part, it was just a fun escape read and it didn't disappoint. I liked some elements of both Annie and Julia's characters, and I appreciated how much they evolved throughout the story. I also liked how the novel ended, and although it was wrapped up pretty neatly, that's exactly what I want from a book like this. Overall, it was a feel good read.
Having said that, there were a few things that pleasantly surprised me about this novel and actually made it a little bit "smarter" than the average chick lit story. (Don't let the cover fool you!) There were some aspects to each character's life that were pretty heavy. I can't go into too many details or I'll spoil some of the book's surprises, but suffice it to say, that Annie and Julia are complex characters that are working through some major life issues. Their old wounds about their childhood friendship are just the tip of the iceberg.
I also really enjoyed how this book delved into friendships and even other relationships for that matter. HOW TO EAT A CUPCAKE explored so many relationships from parent/child, to husband/wife, to fiance/fiancee, to employer/employee, to friendships, and even business partners. Of course, I was a sucker for the storyline about Annie and Julia trying to come to terms with their past mistakes concerning their friendship, but I thought the author did a good job with all of the relationships angles in the story.
I almost considered using HOW TO EAT A CUPCAKE as part of Mystery Mondays because there were actually a few mystery elements to the story. I had absolutely no idea that this book was a whodunnit, but I kind of liked that surprise. I'm not sure the mystery parts of the novel were my favorite parts of the story, but it did an another unique element to this book.
HOW TO EAT A CUPCAKE would make a fun pick for female book clubs. There is a reading guide available with ten interesting questions. Some of the themes you might want to explore include friendships, secrets, lies, self-acceptance, mother/daughter relationships, forgiveness and redemption. You can also discuss how (or if) food can serve to heal people. And finally, just think of how much fun a cupcake-themed meeting would be.
Thanks to the publisher for providing a copy of this novel.