Eat Cake – Jeanne Ray
Genre: Chick-lit, foodie fiction
Having enjoyed Jeanne Ray’s Julie & Romeo quite a while ago, I wonder what took me so long to pick up another book by the author. I did pick up her Eat Cake recently, though, and liked it just as much as Julie & Romeo.
Eat Cake is the story of Ruth is a middle-aged housewife who feels lost in all the chaos and stresses that surround her in everyday life. Her mother came to live with them after a burglary at her place, and seems to have lost all her confidence. Her daughter is sulking big-time, and seems to want to spend all her time alone. Her husband has lost his job. What’s more, her father has met with an accident and needs to come and live with them, as she is the only real family he has got. Oh, and her father and mother haven’t lived together since years, and they fight like cats and dogs, all the time. The only thing that gives Ruth solace in the midst of all this hullabaloo is baking cakes. Ruth has always been a baker of exquisite cakes, and that is the only thing that destresses her. With her father’s coming home, and all life as she knows it threatening to go downhill, will Ruth still be able to find the same kind of comfort in baking cakes? You have to read Eat Cake to find out!
The storyline is typically chick-lit, yes, but the author has built the characters and used her words quite intelligently, making the book an interesting read. At times, the storyline seems very frivolous, like something out of a highly commercial Bollywood movie, but the book still manages to entertain. That is what I liked about it. Some of the dialogues are really intelligent, and the characters are very realistic. And then, there are the cakes – fantastical confections made up of chocolate and lemon and sweet potatoes and what not! The descriptions of the cakes were gorgeous, absolutely drool-worthy.
I had one grouse with the book – it seemed a tad rushed towards the end. The story progresses smoothly and slowly till a point, and then it begins to hurry up like anything. I would have liked the book better, if the ending had been a bit more gradual.
Overall, this is a nice light read, a short one that you can read in a day or two. It is sort of a cutesy fairytale with some beautiful cakes thrown in, without it being too dumb or too blah a read. I would tell you to give it a try, in spite of the unrealistic elements that are part of the book – they only make the read more fun and do not detract from the experience. It is well-written and well-developed chick-lit, I would say. Why don’t you check it out?
Joy For Beginners – Erica Bauermeister
Genre: Chick-lit, fiction
I loved, loved, loved Erica Bauermeister’s The School Of Essential Ingredients, and, again, I wonder why I didn’t pick up another book by the author till very recently! I decided to read Joy For Beginners by Erica Bauermeister last week, and just finished it. Though it was not as wonderful a read as The School Of Essential Ingredients, it was a very interesting book nonetheless.
In Seattle, six women attend a ‘victory party’ for their friend Kate, who has survived cancer. Kate’s daughter has challenged her to navigate the Grand Canyon with her, and she has accepted. At the party, Kate challenges each of her friends to do something that they have been afraid of or something that they need to do, but never got around to doing. She didn’t get to choose her adventure, so it is only fair that she choose the challenges for her friends, Kate says. Her friends agree. Thanks to Kate, each of her friends comes face-to-face with a challenge that will change their life, change them. What are these challenges that Kate puts her friends up to? Will her friends succeed at them? That is what makes up Joy For Beginners.
Again, Joy For Beginners was chick-lit, but there were a lot of factors that elevated it above the level of ‘dumb’. The author definitely has a way with words; she has that ability of beautifully conveying the littlest of life moments, the subtlest of emotions, in a way that will capture your heart – and that is evident in Joy For Beginners. I would advise you to read this book only for the author’s writing style – that said, there is definitely more than writing style to this book.
The characters are very real, with real emotions and conflicts. I loved the way the author builds her characters, using little bits and pieces from their everyday lives. I like how she portrays her characters as ordinary human beings, with feelings and problems just like you and me, but makes them sound super interesting.
I didn’t connect with this book the way I did with The School Of Essential Ingredients. Some characters resonated a whole lot with me, but some didn’t at all. The book didn’t touch me the same way The School Of Essential Ingredients did, as a whole, but some parts were so impactful they were like a punch in the gut.
Here are some parts I loved from the book:
“You know,” Marion said, “I met a woman once when I was a teenager. I knew she had gone through a lot but she was so strong, so compassionate. I asked her how she could be the way she was, and you know what she told me?”
Hadley shook her head.
“She said, ‘You can be broken, or broken open. That choice is yours.”
“Okay, everybody ready?” Tubas burped and clown horns blared. “Okay, but before we go…” A drum rolled, badly, and laughter erupted. “What is the motto of the race?” the announcer yelled out. The crowd roared back, the words muddied.
“What did they say?”Sara asked her father. He looked down at her and smiled.
“They said – Adults need to have fun so children will want to grow up.”
I think love is kind of like those waves out there,” she said. “You ride one in to the beach, and it’s the most amazing thing you’ve ever felt. But at some point the water goes back out; it has to. And maybe you’re lucky – maybe you’re both too busy to do anything drastic. Maybe you’re good as friends, so you stay. And then something happens – maybe it’s something as big as a baby, or as small as him unloading the dishwasher – and the wave comes back in again. And it does that, over and over. I just think sometimes people forget to wait.
Like The School Of Essential Ingredients, Joy For Beginners too doesn’t have a proper beginning, middle, and end. The book is divided into chapters – one for each character – and each chapter describes little segments from the lives of the characters. It takes some getting used to, the style, but once you are into it, there is no looking back, I think.
As I said earlier, I would recommend this book to you just for the beautiful writing style of the author’s.
Have you read any of these books? What did you think about them?
What are you reading at the moment?