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Friendship Bread: A Novel Hardcover – April 5, 2011

4.5 out of 5 stars 288 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Nancy Thayer Reviews Friendship Bread

Nancy Thayer is the New York Times bestselling author of Beachcombers, Summer House, Moon Shell Beach, and The Hot Flash Club. She lives on Nantucket. Read her review of Friendship Bread:

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.

Author Darien Gee on Friendship Bread

Can a loaf of Amish Friendship Bread heal a broken heart and change an entire community?

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:

Amish Friendship Bread Starter Recipe [PDF]
Amish Friendship Bread Recipe [PDF]

From Publishers Weekly

Baked goods conquer profound grief in Gee's by-the-numbers debut. The sorrow felt by Julia Evarts and her husband, Mark, over the death of their son, Josh, six years earlier has chipped away at the foundation of their marriage, but after Julia finds a starter batch of Amish friendship bread on her porch one day, the yeasty surprise helps patch up some spiritual wounds. She shares the recipe starter with a few people in her town, and pretty soon everyone is making it and finding their own simple narratives of bread-driven healing. But none have a harder path to the foregone conclusion than Julia and her sister, Livvy, who was with Josh when he died and has yet to be forgiven by Julia. Yes, the premise is hokey, but Gee's women characters are written with affection (much more so than the men in their lives, who are essentially decorative). Readers looking for a quick, easy fix of heartwarming optimism could do worse. And, of course, the recipe is included. (Apr.)
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; First Edition edition (April 5, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345525345
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345525345
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.4 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (288 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,344,114 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Tonya Speelman VINE VOICE on March 4, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Maybe more recipes or more book... but like a bag passed day 10 of friendship bread, this book exploded with friendship and love. We have 5 main women that we visit throughout the book; I won't go into all the details. You will just HAVE to pick the book up and read for yourself. It is all woven together so beautifully that I was left speechless at the end, couldn't have asked for anything better. Now that is how it is supposed to be done!

What brings it all together? A bag of fermenting starter of amish friendship bread and recipes. If you will, it kind of serves like a glue or bonding agent as well. Anyone can take care of it for the 10 days, and it is easy to put together to bake and separate as well. Fun to give to others too!

I think the recipes I have seen sound delicious too!! What really entices me are the caramel ones! Who knew! When I went to my daughter's ortho appointment, I was telling them about the book, so I KNOW there are at least five more people picking it up.. hehehe

I just know you CAN'T miss out on this one! I know I couldn't have missed out on. I mean, who could miss out on friendships, baking and recipes included??? Enjoy and make sure you join the online community to share your recipes as well!!
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
When I first saw this book, I passed it by because I thought it was going to be another Amish story that I see so many of lately. I've read a couple of those and like them, but I can't read too many of the same kind of book. This is not Amish at all, and even tells that Friendship Bread is only 30 years old and was started by Girl Scouts. So, it's a lot more modern than I thought it was.

The story is great - it tells the story of several different people living in a town called Avalon, Illinois. If you like Debbie Macomber's Cedar Cove series or Kate Jacob's Friday Night Knitting Club series, you will probably like this. At the end of the book it says the author is at work at her next Avalon novel, so it looks like this will be a series.

If you like to bake or read about baking, this will definitely appeal to you. The Friendship Bread makes it's rounds through the town and you'll read about everyone's experiences with it. There is a whole section of recipes in the back for making your own starter and lots of recipes you can make with it. There is a also website that is like a little Friendship Bread community and there is a Facebook page. I think both of these are a great idea to continue the community theme of the book.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
In friendship bread Darien Gee weaves a tale of mystery, intrigue, humor, infidelity, tragedy and how a bag of Amish Friendship Bread starter (dough) and a recipe bring a community, family and friends, old and new, together.

Not many books capture your heart and your attention so much so that you don't want to put it down. This is one of those books.. A moving emotionally charged novel that will have you crying, laughing and cheering right along with the each of the characters. There is never a dull moment as the author continues to introduce new characters throughout the book, all interwoven with small town life in the fictitious town called Avalon. A mysterious bag of Amish Friendship Bread starter is left on the door step of a grieving family, the instructions and recipe attached. The bread begins to make it's way into friends and neighbors homes and businesses, helping to introduce readers to the characters and their problems. Along the way new friendships are formed, old wounds healed and relationships restored..

Reading Friendship Bread is like taking a stroll down Blossom Street into the community created by Debbie MaComber in A Good Yarn (Blossom Street). I hope this is one of many books Darien Gee writes about this community as I look forward to visiting again and again.....
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is a light-hearted read specially made for summer reading. This is the best book to take to the beach or the pool or even on vacation. While the premises sound heavy, it is not as it is a book about friendship and love and forgiveness.

Julia has her hands full. She barely has enough energy to take care of her five-year-old daughter Grace let alone bake bread after someone mysteriously left behind a starter for Amish Friendship bread. Julia has a falling-out with her younger sister Livvy, and she finds life tedious enough in the midst of her grief.

Hannah moves to this little town with her famous husband after traveling the world as a famous musican, only to have her husband dash back to Chicago as he finds himself working more. Then there's Madeline, an older lady who bought a house that was a former Bed & Breakfast and opened up a little Tea Salon, serving up mouth-watering goodies and tea to Avalon residents. Julia and Hannah were among her first customers and pretty soon, the three of them became close-knit friends.

When tragedy happens to a town nearby, these three women organized a relief organization and in helping others, they find peace for themselves and new direction in which their lives are to go in.

It is a very heart-warming story of friendship, love and forgiveness. While some of it is predictable, it is still a cozy read. Even better, there's recipes at the back of the book and if you're like me, you're going to try these recipes out!! There's nothing like fresh bread out of the oven and a delicious novel to read on a lovely spring day. This book fits the bill.

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