Of bakeries and vagaries.

More additions to the Reading Challenges this week. Quite unexpectedly so.

Tigers In Red Weather

What a thing it must be to be a debut novelist like Liza Klaussmann is and manage to write a novel like this. It’s hard enough sorting out your own thoughts; to be able to burrow into another person’s head and to be able to express their individual voice on paper is a craft only a few writers are able to master. To be able to do that successfully in your first attempt is pure genius.

Nick (we never know her full name, and I can hardly believe a girl would have such an androgynous name way back in the ’40s) and Helena are cousins growing up during WWII. Just after the war ends their lives take them away from each other’s innocent confidences into a confusing grown up world of pretentiousĀ  marriages, duplicitous friendships, creepy children they can’t abandon. You are sucked into a time of world shortages and personal excesses. It’s an era unhindered by political correctness egged on by entirely too much alcohol.

The only problem I encountered was in trying to picture the character of Nick — a woman with it, a woman no one can refuse. Personally, I’ve never met a person like that in my life, but that didn’t take away anything from the intensity of this novel. I enjoyed this one immensely.

Union Street Bakery

This one isn’t exactly a culinary novel, but I figure with its name it can qualify as “food related” so I’m counting it for my challenge.

Daisy McCrae is a 30something woman who in losing her high-profile job in the financial sector has lost her identity. To tide over, she returns to manage her adoptive parents’ bakery and basically never stops whining about it until the very end. Her loving family isn’t good enough for her, nor is the fact that her ex-fiance comes back for her even after she ditched him a while ago. Peppered into the main story are mini stories about ghosts of slaves, family ancestry and an unrepentant birth mother, all of which contribute to the pace of the novel without contributing much else.

The novel is a light read, but the main character was so full of herself that the overall tone became too poor-me for my taste. Amazon gives it 4.5 stars, I’d pass it for 2.

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