July 27, 2012

July Book Club - Friendship Bread

Thanks to all you lovely readers that are back after the June book club hiatus!  To make this month even more special - this is the first book with my fabulous, gorgeous, super sweet co-host Mrs. Jones.  If you aren't already reading her blog - you SHOULD be!

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.

About life and loss, friendship and community, food and family, Friendship Bread tells the uplifting story of what endures when even the unthinkable happens.

1. Did you like the book? Why/why not?
I really liked the book.  Honestly, I read the prologue and didn't see exactly how it fit in with the book until the epilogue.  When it did "click" for me, I cried. All of the main characters were women that I could see myself being friends with.

Darien Gee has a great writing style that is easy to follow despite the intertwining story lines and numerous details about each of the main (and peripheral) characters.  It was easy to engage with this book!

2. Do the characters seem real and believable? Can you relate to them/ do they remind you of people you know?
Most of these characters were very believable.  I don't know many people that haven't had to deal with some sort of personal tragedy...or find them self in a new place looking to start over...or just need to determine what comes next in life.  It's easy to relate to one, if not all of the main characters on some level.

3. Is the ending satisfying? If so, why? If not, why not...and how would you change it?
I did like the end.  I'm a sucker for a happy ending - and all the characters find a happy ending in one way or the other.  I do have a few little things that I wish would have been changed or revealed - like a town article to reveal who the real originator of the friendship bread mix was - or seeing Julia repair all three of her broken relationships.

4. If you could ask the author a question, what would you ask?
I want to know if the bag of batter that spawned her book idea is still living on in perpetuity...or if she finally pawned off all the batter!

5. How do characters change or evolve throughout the course of the story? If so, how/why?
All of the characters that are introduced in the book evolve.  Heck, the whole town changes because of this friendship bread batter.  It was great seeing each of the main characters deal with their problems, grow together as a group and come out the other side as better people.

Did you read along?  Link up and tell Mrs. Jones & I what you thought!


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