Ellen Branford is going to fulfill her grandmother's dying wish--to find the hometown boy she once loved, and give him her last letter. Ellen leaves Manhattan and her Kennedy-esque fiance for Beacon, Maine. What should be a one-day trip is quickly complicated when she almost drowns in the chilly bay and is saved by a local carpenter. The rescue turns Ellen into something of a local celebrity, which may or may not help her unravel the past her grandmother labored to keep hidden. As she learns about her grandmother and herself, it becomes clear that a 24-hour visit to Beacon may never be enough. THE IRRESISTIBLE BLUEBERRY BAKESHOP & CAFE is a warm and delicious debut about the power of a simpler life. -- Little, Brown
I am such a sucker for books with food themes, so when I saw the title and cover of THE IRRESISTIBLE BLUEBERRY BAKESHOP & CAFE by Mary Simses, I couldn't help but want to read it. How gorgeous is this cover? It makes me want to have some toast and blueberry jam! And as far as the title goes, it's cute (and almost "irresistible") albeit a little long.
THE IRRESISTIBLE BLUEBERRY BAKESHOP & CAFE (now to be known as TIBB&C) tells the story of Ellen Branford, a high-powered attorney, who returns to a small town in Maine to fulfill her grandmother's dying wish. Her grandmother requested that she find her childhood sweetheart and give him a letter she had written right before she died.
Ellen hopes that her trip will be a day or two at the most; however, when she falls into the bay and has to be saved by a carpenter, things quickly become complicated. She finds herself attracted to this man despite having a "picture perfect" fiance back in Manhattan. As she delves into her grandmother's secret past, Ellen not only learns the truth behind her grandmother but also some valuable things about herself.
Based on the title alone, I admit I was expecting TIBB&C to be more of a foodie book filled with delicious blueberry recipes. And while it did have some references to Ellen's grandmother's blueberry muffin that made my mouth water, the book wasn't really about food at all. Rather, TIBB&C was a heartwarming story about a woman finding herself and happiness.
I can't exactly put my finger on it, but for some reason, I really liked TIBB&C. The story wasn't exactly original and parts of it were pretty darn predictable, but nonetheless, I got caught up in this sweet and entertaining story. I think that's a testament to Ms. Simses and her writing. TIBB&C is her debut novel and I admit I was impressed by the quality of the writing. I thought her character development and descriptions of the setting were very good and definitely added to my enjoyment of Ellen's story.
Furthermore, I appreciated that TIBB&C was a true feel-good book. There were moments of humor and even a little romance, but overall it was a story about woman who strips away all of the outside factors in her life and listens to her heart. I guess you could even say it was a coming-of-age story for an adult woman. And honestly, I know I'm not alone when I say that I love books like this!
TIBB&C would be a very fun book to discuss at your next book club meeting. Not only would you have to serve homemade blueberry muffins (the recipe is on the author's website), but you could also make the author's recipe for Corn Azteca (see below.) I was fortunate enough to find a discussion guide with fourteen questions too. Some of the topics you might want to explore include stereotypes, love, new beginnings, appearances, family dynamics, and happiness.
I know the font is small, so here's another copy of the recipe:
2 medium onions, finely chopped
3 tablespoons butter or margarine
3 cups fresh corn (4 large ears) or 2 10-oz. packages frozen corn
1/4 cup water
1 cup shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
1/2 of a 14-oz. can diced green chiles
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Fresh red pepper -- enough for garnish
1. Cook onions in butter until soft. Add corn and water. Cover tightly and cook over moderate heat for five minutes, stirring once.
2. Remove cover and, over high heat, boil away most of the liquid. Stir in cheese, chilies, salt and pepper. Heat thoroughly, but do not boil. Garnish with chopped red pepper.
I enjoyed TIBB&C quite a bit and think it's a wonderful addition to your summer reading list! Plus, those recipes look amazing!
Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.