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How to Eat a Cupcake: A Novel Paperback – March 13, 2012

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"Foodies and those who love contemporary literature will devour this novel that is being compared to Elizabeth Strout's Olive Kitteridge. A standout." --Library Journal Learn more
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Editorial Reviews


“[A] sparkling, witty story. Donohue’s voice is lovely, intelligent, and alluring. Grab one of these for your best friend and read it together--preferably with a plate of Meyer Lemon cupcakes nearby.” (Katie Crouch, bestselling author of Girls in Trucks and Men and Dogs)

“Beautifully written and quietly wise, Meg Donohue’s How to Eat a Cupcake is an achingly honest portrayal of the many layers of friendship--a story so vividly told, you can (almost) taste the buttercream.” (Sarah Jio, author of The Violets of March and The Bungalow)

“A heartwarming and unpredictable tale of friendship, family and frosting.” (Zoe Fishman, author of Balancing Acts)

“An irresistible blend of sweet and tart, this book is truly a treat to be savored.” (Beth Kendrick, author of The Bake Off and Second Time Around)

“Deliciously engaging. Donohue writes with charm and grace. What could be better than friendship and cupcakes?” (Rebecca Rasmussen, author of The Bird Sisters)

“Donohue’s sweet debut is a clever exploration of how a West Coast mean girl grows up and gives in to friendship, love, and dozens of delicious cupcakes....Donohue’s culinary romantic thriller will keep readers hungry for more.” (Publishers Weekly)

“Donohue has written a sharp little novel featuring the subtle characterizations of two appealingly flawed young women.” (Kirkus Reviews)

From the Back Cover

Free-spirited Annie Quintana and sophisticated Julia St. Clair come from two different worlds. Yet, as the daughter of the St. Clairs' housekeeper, Annie grew up in Julia's San Francisco mansion and they forged a bond that only two little girls oblivious to class differences could—until a life-altering betrayal destroyed their friendship.

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.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Original edition (March 13, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062069284
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062069283
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (277 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #533,549 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Meg Donohue is the USA Today bestselling author of DOG CRAZY, ALL THE SUMMER GIRLS, and HOW TO EAT A CUPCAKE. She has an MFA from Columbia University and a BA from Dartmouth College. Born and raised in Philadelphia, she now lives in San Francisco with her husband, three young daughters, and dog, and is working on her next novel.

For more on Meg, please visit Follow Meg on Twitter at @megdonohue.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Laurel-Rain Snow TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 9, 2012
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Two young girls grow up side by side in San Francisco's Pacific Heights district, but they live totally separate lives. Julia St. Clair is the wealthy daughter of Lolly and Tad; Annie Quintana's mother Lucia fled Ecuador as a teenage single mom, and now works as a nanny/cook for the St. Clairs.

Over the years, however, the girls become best friends, attend the same schools (thanks to the largesse of the St. Clairs), and seemingly are like family to one another.

But what happens during the high school years, and how Julia played a role in those changes, will inform their lives for more than a decade. Annie's mother's death is like the final event that breaks the bond.

When Julia comes back to SF after living a successful life in New York, the women connect again when Annie caters a charity luncheon at the St. Clair home.

Julia reaches out to Annie with a business proposition: she wants to invest capital and help start up a cupcakery with Annie, whose talent for cupcakes borders on perfection. The contract includes a clause where Julia will exit the business after she marries in about a year. So, despite her reservations, Annie agrees.

But what secrets have captured Julia that could devastate her future? And what strange events happening regularly at the Mission District cupcakery dubbed "Treat" could threaten their security, their futures, and possibly their lives?

How to Eat a Cupcake: A Novel is narrated alternately between Julia and Annie. Just when I thought Julia could not be more annoying or self-absorbed, I would read her story and start to understand her perspective.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Writer Mom VINE VOICE on February 12, 2012
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
How to Eat a Cupcake was pure reading fun from start to finish. This is what reading for fun is supposed to be. The characters were well-developed, likeable with just enough flaws to make them believable. The plot moved along at a nice clip--no draggy spots and no gaps that made me wonder where something came from. There was action and drama but it was a plausible part of the story and not just stuck in there to fit a genre's formula. The ending was satisfying (maybe a little bit expected) but satisfying anyway.

It's a story about friendship. Two little girls who grew up together. One an American princess born to a mansion and the other the daughter of the live-in housekeeper. The girls were raised together like sisters and even attended the same prestigious private schools. They were happy and got along fine until they hit adolescence and found different social circles and new ways to despise each other. The book slowly unravels the reasons their friendship disintegrated. The secrets, the pains, the hurts, the crimes, the jealousy.

Even though the friendship began dissolving during the teenage years, this isn't a teenager novel. The girls are adults and must decide if they are willing to work through the pain of an old childhood relationship and allow it to become an adult relationship.

In the lines of the book I see shadows of a television show about sisters who open a cupcake shop. Frank, honest, bitter, and sweet.

Pure fun in the pages of a book!
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By C. Wong VINE VOICE on February 8, 2012
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I really enjoyed reading 'How to Eat a Cupcake' by Meg Donohue. In fact after I finished the book, I looked for more books by her but couldn't find any. So, if this is her first book, I think she has done very well.

What attracted me to this book was the cover with a wonderful array of cupcakes in a cupcakery. After my mouth watered for a while, I started to read the story of two women of the same age who grew in the same house but weren't related to each other.

Anna Quintana was the daughter of the cook and housekeeper for the St. Clairs. She didn't know who her father was and her mother didn't tell her about her past. Anna had a bubbly personality, curly hair, was very creative with cupcakes. Since her mother died early and after an argument that they had had, Anna felt cheated out of a chance to reconcile with her mother. Anna was determined to be independent and vowed never to return to the house where she grew up.

Julia, the Sinclair's daughter was serious, a successful business woman, engaged to be married, ambitious and she hid her depression from everyone. Although she grew up with all the advantages, she was somewhat jealous of Anna for a wonderfully loving mother.

Julia's mother, Lolly had sent invitations to Annie before but when one came requesting her to cater a charity event for a fee, Annie's friend told her to go ahead and do it. When Julia tastes Annie's mocha flavored cupcake, it made her a little less sad and temporarily released her pain for all the secrets that she kept from every one. That cupcake made Julia to decide to open a cupcakery.

Julia and Anna's joint business tested to the limits any remains of any friendship that they had when they were young.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Susan Tunis TOP 1000 REVIEWER on March 19, 2012
Format: Paperback
I live in San Francisco, where this novel is so evocatively set. After the coldest, dreariest, rainiest week ever, I felt I deserved a treat. I pulled How to Eat a Cupcake off the shelf.

At the novel's heart, are two very different women with a shared past. Annie Quintana grew up in the carriage house of the St. Clair's Pacific Heights mansion. Her mother, Lucia, was the nanny to Julia St. Clair, and the two girls were raised practically as sisters. They were the closest of friends until a rift in their teen years. The last time they'd seen each other was at Lucia's funeral, a decade prior.

As the novel opens, Annie and Julia live very different lives. Annie is a baker who has finally accepted a catering job from Julia's mother, Lolly. What she doesn't know is that her erstwhile friend has left New York's high finance whirl and has moved home for the months leading up to her wedding. They have an awkward (and engineered) reunion at Lolly's party.

And that would have been that, perhaps, but Julia needs something to do with herself that doesn't involve wedding planning and nurturing the secret she's keeping from her fiancé and the world. In the midst of a sugar high, she proposes to Annie that they collaborate on opening a cupcake shop. Despite her distrust of Julia, Annie can't pass up the opportunity to make her dreams come true. And so an uneasy alliance is born.

As the two women work together towards a common goal, they work to heal their fractured relationship. There are many allusions to past wrongs before the full story is eventually teased out, and there are an equal number of ominous foreshadowings, because not everyone seems to want these two to succeed.
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