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Julia's Chocolates [Kindle Edition]

Cathy Lamb
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (208 customer reviews)

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Book Description

"I left my wedding dress hanging in a tree somewhere in North Dakota. I don't know why that particular tree appealed to me. Perhaps it was because it looked as if it had given up and died years ago and was still standing because it didn't know what else to do. . ."

In her deliciously funny, heartfelt, and moving debut, Cathy Lamb introduces some of the most wonderfully eccentric women since The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood and The Secret Life of Bees, as she explores the many ways we find the road home.

From the moment Julia Bennett leaves her abusive Boston fiancé at the altar and her ugly wedding dress hanging from a tree in South Dakota, she knows she's driving away from the old Julia, but what she's driving toward is as messy and undefined as her own wounded soul. The old Julia dug her way out of a tortured, trailer park childhood with a monster of a mother. The new Julia will be found at her Aunt Lydia's rambling, hundred-year-old farmhouse outside Golden, Oregon.

There, among uppity chickens and toilet bowl planters, Julia is welcomed by an eccentric, warm, and often wise clan of women, including a psychic, a minister's unhappy wife, an abused mother of four, and Aunt Lydia herself--a woman who is as fierce and independent as they come. Meeting once a week for drinks and the baring of souls, it becomes clear that every woman holds secrets that keep her from happiness. But what will it take for them to brave becoming their true selves? For Julia, it's chocolate. All her life, baking has been her therapy and her refuge, a way to heal wounds and make friends. Nobody anywhere makes chocolates as good as Julia's, and now, chocolate just might change her life--and bring her love when she least expects it. But it can't keep her safe. As Julia gradually opens her heart to new life, new friendships, and a new man, the past is catching up to her. And this time, she will not be able to run but will have to face it head on.

Filled with warmth, love, and truth, Julia's Chocolates is an unforgettable novel of hope and healing that explores the hurts we keep deep in our hearts, the love that liberates us, the courage that defines us, and the chocolate that just might take us there.

Advance praise for Cathy Lamb and Julia's Chocolates

"Julia's Chocolates is wise, tender, and very funny. In Julia Bennett, Cathy Lamb has created a deeply wonderful character, brave and true. I loved this beguiling novel about love, friendship, and the enchantment of really good chocolate." --Luanne Rice, New York Times bestselling author

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The quirky debut romance from Lamb opens as Julia Bennett flees the Boston altar where her blueblood abuser fiancé, Robert Stanfield III, awaits her. She leaves her wedding gown in a North Dakota tree, and arrives in the tiny town of Golden, Oregon to take refuge with her beloved Aunt Lydia. As Julia slowly returns to a semblance of normalcy, Lydia's eccentric friends soon become Julia's near and dear as well: minister's wife Lara, psychic Caroline and abused wife Katie all have their own hidden pains, to which Julia can relate. Robert, who hit her and made her feel bad about her body, is never far from her thoughts, nor is her incapacitating "Dread Disease"-a feeling of panic she can't name. The dialogue is funny and bawdy: "Don't cry, love! You escaped a life's prison sentence with King Prick." Julia's struggles with people's interest in her chocolate-making, and in her person, make her a winningly flawed heroine, and there is well-deserved come-uppance for abusers of all types.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


'Wise, tender and very funny. I loved this beguiling novel about Love, friendship, and the enchantment of really good chocolate' Luanne Rice, bestselling author of Last Kiss

Product Details

  • File Size: 523 KB
  • Print Length: 398 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0758214626
  • Publisher: Kensington Books (May 1, 2007)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000OVLIJ2
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #45,801 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
72 of 81 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Exquisite Delight July 11, 2007
Usually chosing books on reviews, I was a bit apprehensive that I chose this book from the cover and inside blurb. Twenty pages in I was relieved to know I made a wise choice as Cathy Lamb's book is rich in character, plot and resolution.

Julia, abused her entire childhood, sickly chooses a cruel finance who continues the pattern with great zeal. The day of the wedding, in a moment of clarity, Julia realizes she is making a huge mistake. She escapes in her beat-up car from New England to Golden, Oregon to the comfort of her Aunt Lydia's farm, leaving her wedding dress dangling from a tree in North Dakota. At Aunt Lily's, Julia befriends 4 women who attend "Aunt Lydia's Psychic Nights" where each lady exposes her own set of disturbances. The friendships open Julia's injured mind to understanding no one deserves constant berating, constant hitting, constant chaos. But as she heals, her crazed fiance plots vicious revenge, and Julia knows a reckoning is coming.

I found this beautifully written because in the face of disturbing subject matter there was still uproarious humor, gentle moments, quirky, loveable characters and redemption. Written with a homespun prose, the book keeps you on a fragile edge, but doesn't leave you dangling for too long. A perfect balance makes this a must read for all that hide from truth or are in search of it.

Great first effort; I look forward to more books from this gifted author.
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24 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars tantalising November 4, 2007
By bhr
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
From the beginning of this story, chocolate is in the background. It represents security, peace, and self-confidence. It is a touchstone for the main character, Julia Bennett, a woman on the run from her past.

She had a crappy childhood and a pretty awful adult hood (so far). So, after running out on her abusive fiancee, she lightly packs her car (taking a few necessities, including some of her own chocolate) and heads for the home of her heart.

Julia's aunt Lydia is the hero of this story in many ways. She provides Julia the space comfort and energy Julia needs to grow. A cast of characters builds in Lydia's hometown of Golden, Oregon. They are all interesting (and there's a good number of GOOD male characters: a rarity in most chic-lit). But the coup de story is definitely Lydia. She goes around shouting things like "feel the female power in your breasts." Yet somehow, though I was almost embarrassed to read what she said, by the end, I could understand her message (though I don't know if I can ever love my body parts the way Lydia implores).

I adored the pacing of this story, the characters, the plot (which is, in many ways, graphically violent - reader be warned), and the "morals" of the story.

Scenes from this will occupy my thoughts for weeks. That is surely the hallmark of a wonderful book. Also, it features lots of orgasmic chocolate, which speaks to me.

Highly, highly recommended.

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25 of 32 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Underwhelmed July 21, 2008
By Diane
Julia Bennett is the central character in this book. She has lived with abuse all of her life with her alcoholic mother and her many boyfriends, and she is reliving it all over again with her fiancé Robert. Finally, one day after being abused she sees the light and decides to leave before her wedding and go to look for refuge with her Aunt Lydia, a woman who has tried to help her in the past.

In living with Lydia, Julia also gets to know a group of women who will help her find herself and heal her soul and her body in the process. Unfortunately, for me, a lot of these characters were just too out there in regards to the psychic nights and the ability to find strength in their private body parts! I mean, who does that?! It's fun to be quirky but this was just a little too bizarre and kind of killed the story for me.

Julia, of course manages to find love and her talent in the midst of some serious situations.

While this book is indeed filled with warmth and love, I just could not get into the characters lives, thankfully so I guess since most of them are dealing with some very serious issues. I wanted to like this book but in the end, I was just glad that it was over.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deliciously Complex September 21, 2007
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
wow, I loved this book! Best thing I've read in ages.

The characters are well developed - highly quirky, funny and will without a doubt work their way into your heart. Although this is a story about friendship and courageous women, it is also a tale about facing your fears, having the courage to take risks and finding yourself. What a journey - I simply howled about the Psychic Nights, cheered at the victories and felt the fear they faced. I can not wait for Ms. Lamb's next book and have to admit that it was hard to see this book end.

There were many moments where I laughed and cried during this treasure.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Unexpectedly poor... October 31, 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I was very surprised to be completely disappointed by this book. It was a poor cross between "The Divine Secrets of the Yaya Sisterhood" by Rebecca Wells and "Chocolat" by Joanne Harris. Both of these wildly popular books had a unique way of capturing the spirit of the characters. Yet, "Julia's Chocolates" fails to deliver that sense of knowing the people you are reading about. This novel seems to take elements from both of these books, and mishmash them together, to create something lesser than either.

The characters are more like caricatures, and none seem fully developed. Each one seems to be 'putting on a play', but not establishing themselves.

I wanted to love this book, and kept plugging along, even when it became repetitive and predictable. I wish I could say it ended better than it began. The beginning few pages were the best in the novel.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars I would love to spend a day (a week
Wow! Worth the read just for Aunt Lydia! I would love to spend a day (a week, a year, a life) with these wonderfully quirky characters. I could not put this book down. Read more
Published 12 hours ago by Piper
5.0 out of 5 stars great read!
Definitely a page turner! Celebrate women and our tribulations and triumphs. Very funny but thought provoking encouraging you yo live love and laugh!
Published 1 day ago by Iyawo Jeanette (Esutolokun)
5.0 out of 5 stars Cleverly Excellent
Julia's Chocolates touched my heart as I know there are women who deal with abusive situations every day. Read more
Published 6 days ago by Linda K
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun, happy and captivating
This is one of the most enjoyable funny books I have read.The characters are fun, inspiring and left me wanting more. I love Cathy's writing. Read more
Published 11 days ago by Katy
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun to read.
Good Anytime, but especially to relax the last few weeks of summer! Julia's Chocolates is a fun read and more... Read more
Published 11 days ago by D. Money
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 22 days ago by Wendy Worley Hussey
5.0 out of 5 stars A sweet affirmation of life
Nothing usual about this tale of good vs. evil. Keeps you on the edge of your seat right through to the end. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Kathi Lachenauer
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read
This item is just as described and is a very enjoyable book, I love it. Thank you so much for a pleasant and smooth transaction.
Published 1 month ago by Annette L. Smith
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Worth the read.
Published 1 month ago by Jeanine K Kruschke
5.0 out of 5 stars A 10-Star Read for Strong, Intelligent Women
I left my wedding dress hanging in a tree somewhere in North Dakota.

I don’t know why that particular tree appealed to me. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Linda C. Reitz
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More About the Author

Cathy Lamb was born in Newport Beach, California. As a child, she mastered the art of skateboarding, catching butterflies in bottles, and riding her bike with no hands. When she was 10, her parents moved her, two sisters, a brother, and two poorly behaved dogs to Oregon before she could fulfill her lifelong dream of becoming a surfer bum.

She then embarked on her notable academic career where she earned good grades now and then, spent a great deal of time daydreaming, ran wild with a number of friends, and landed on the newspaper staff in high school. When she saw her byline above an article about people making out in the hallways of the high school, she knew she had found her true calling.

After two years of partying at the University of Oregon, she settled down for the next three years and earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in education, and became a fourth grade teacher. It was difficult for her to become proper and conservative but she threw out her red cowboy boots and persevered. She had no choice. She had to eat, and health insurance is expensive.

She met her husband on a blind date. A mutual friend who was an undercover vice cop busting drug dealers set them up. It was love at third sight.

Teaching children about the Oregon Trail and multiplication facts amused her until she became so gigantically pregnant with twins she looked like a small cow and could barely walk. With a three year old at home, she decided it was time to make a graceful exit and waddle on out. She left school one day and never went back. She likes to think her students missed her.

When Cathy was no longer smothered in diapers and pacifiers, she took a turn onto the hazardous road of freelance writing and wrote about 200 articles on homes, home décor, people and fashion for a local newspaper. As she is not fashionable and can hardly stand to shop, it was an eye opener for her to find that some women actually do obsess about what to wear. She also learned it would probably be more relaxing to slam a hammer against one's forehead than engage in a large and costly home remodeling project.

Cathy suffers from, "I Would Rather Play Than Work Disease" which prevents her from getting much work done unless she has a threatening deadline. She likes to hang with family and friends, walk, eat chocolate, camp, travel, and is slightly obsessive about the types of books she reads. She also likes to be left alone a lot so she can hear all the odd characters in her head talk to each other and then transfer that oddness to paper. The characters usually don't start to talk until 10:00 at night, however, so she is often up 'til 2:00 in the morning with them. That is her excuse for being cranky.

She adores her children and husband, except when he refuses to take his dirty shoes off and walks on the carpet. She will ski because her children insist, but she secretly doesn't like it at all. Too cold and she falls all the time.

She is currently working on her next book and isn't sleeping much.

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