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Friendship Bread begins with the mysterious present of starter bread batter and expands to show how the smallest gifts can change entire lives.
Julia Evarts has sustained a tragedy of heartbreaking proportions. She manages to care for her little daughter, but she can’t tolerate being near her once-beloved sister Livvy. Her marriage to her husband Mark hangs by a thread. Julia’s grief and estrangement is a constant torture for her. She can no longer find joy in her life.
Hannah de Brisay is a talented cellist who has devoted herself to her art from the age of three. She’s young, vibrant, and celebrated, when a back injury prevents her from playing professionally again. Philippe, her partner in marriage and in music, sticks her in the charming town of Avalon while he is away--playing, in all senses of the word.
Madeline Davis has also had her share of sorrow. She’s older, though, and perhaps even wiser. Certainly she knows, as this captivating book shows, that nurturing others often helps you heal yourself. In her small tea salon, these women come together and begin the slow alchemy of friendship and personal transformation.
Much more happens, too: an ambitious journalist named Edie causes problems for everyone in town; a sexy architect named Vivian works very hard to seduce Julia’s husband Mark; and Connie Coll loses her job as a Laundromat attendant with surprising consequences. Other residents of Avalon make delightful cameos as they deal with their unexpected gifts of Friendship Bread. Some are happy about it. Some aren’t.
Through it all, Darien Gee’s virtuoso storytelling kept me turning pages--and wishing I lived in Avalon! The story flows smoothly, full of surprises, and I often found sentences so wise, so lovely, they took my breath away--and made me think.
Friendship Bread is a book that transports you to a place where your heart is soothed and uplifted as you experience the grief, petty faults, and random kindnesses all humans share. Ultimately, it makes you love your very own flawed and precious life.
Friendship Bread opens in the fictitious rivertown of Avalon, Illinois. Like many small communities, Avalon is a place where families gather to share a meal and where neighbors are quick to come to one another’s aid. Visitors are charmed by the quiet simplicity of Avalon, of the scent of fresh-baked goods wafting from Madeline’s Tea Salon, of the sweet bungalow homes that line the shady streets.
But behind every closed door is a story, and on a sunny afternoon in March, my protagonist’s story begins. For five years Julia Evarts has carried a grief that threatens to tear her family apart. She’s going through the motions of life when her young daughter discovers the equivalent of a culinary chain letter sitting on their front porch: a plate of Amish Friendship Bread along with a bag of starter and an anonymous note that says “I HOPE YOU ENJOY IT.” They’re instructed to feed the starter over a ten-day period and then bake two loaves of bread and share the remaining starter with three other people. As the bread and its starter make their way through Julia’s small town, including into the home of her estranged sister, the residents of Avalon, Illinois, find their lives--and hearts--opening in ways both poignant and unexpected.
The novel was inspired by my own experience with Amish Friendship Bread, when my daughter brought it home along with a bag of starter she’d received from a friend. I was eating the last few crumbs when I started to think about a woman who receives the starter and just doesn’t want to do it. I saw a sadness hanging over this character and I knew I wanted to find out more. I started writing and the story quickly took shape--more importantly, it soon became clear that the book wasn’t about any one person, but an entire community ready for change and connection.
Bake Your Own Friendship Bread:
Used for my book club. It was a light read but we wanted something that was based on cooking. It did inspire us to get some starter going and bake and share recipes and treats. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Shopping Mom
My mom and I were sure the setting for his story was actually our small town in South Texas. The names have been changed to protect the innocent. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Lynnette
A lot of characters. I almost gave up and then as I continued to read.....they all fell into their places. The book is a fun read; because of the friendship bread. Read morePublished 2 months ago by k proctor
I found this book delightful. As an aficionada of Amish Friendship, I can relate to the details. I have written a review of the book for my weekly column in our small town... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Naomi Ridge, V.
An ok read, fairly predictable. It did get me interested in friendship bread - not for the idea but the recipe. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Icey
I first read "The Avalon Ladies' Scrapbooking Society" which is the second book in this series. I enjoyed it so much that I immediately started "Friendship Bread" and thoroughly... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Debarah K. Shoultz
This was a good, not great book. Worth reading, a pretty light read. It got me out of a reading slump, so I appreciated that. Just a nice story, reminded me of Debbie Macomber.Published 6 months ago by Lorraine
Having received and used the Friendship Bread batter before I was anxious to see what this book was all about. Read morePublished 7 months ago by VT