A full-hearted novel about a big-city baker who discovers the true meaning of home—and that sometimes the best things are found when you didn’t even know you were looking. When Olivia Rawlings—pastry chef extraordinaire for an exclusive Boston dinner club—sets not just her flambéed dessert but the entire building alight, she escapes to the most comforting place she can think of—the idyllic town of Guthrie, Vermont, home of Bag Balm, the country’s longest-running contra dance, and her best friend Hannah. But the getaway turns into something more lasting when Margaret Hurley, the cantankerous, sweater-set-wearing owner of the Sugar Maple Inn, offers Livvy a job. Broke and knowing that her days at the club are numbered, Livvy accepts. Livvy moves with her larger-than-life, uberenthusiastic dog, Salty, into a sugarhouse on the inn’s property and begins creating her mouthwatering desserts for the residents of Guthrie. She soon uncovers the real reason she has been hired—to help Margaret reclaim the inn’s blue ribbon status at the annual county fair apple pie contest.
With the joys of a fragrant kitchen, the sound of banjos and fiddles being tuned in a barn, and the crisp scent of the orchard just outside the front door, Livvy soon finds herself immersed in small town life. And when she meets Martin McCracken, the Guthrie native who has returned from Seattle to tend his ailing father, Livvy comes to understand that she may not be as alone in this world as she once thought. But then another new arrival takes the community by surprise, and Livvy must decide whether to do what she does best and flee—or stay and finally discover what it means to belong. Olivia Rawlings may finally find out that the life you want may not be the one you expected—it could be even better.
Published August 9th 2016 by Penguin Audio
Four and a half stars: A moving story proving family can be found in unlikely places.
When Livvy drops a flaming Baked Alaska after catching sight of her lover’s wife, she flees, leaving behind her career. She takes refuge with her best friend, Hannah, in a small town in Vermont. Livvy has no intention of staying, but Hannah convinces her to apply for a job at the local Sugar Maple Inn. Reluctantly, Livvy interviews with the snippy owner, Margaret Hurley. Livvy lands the job with her amazing apple pie. She agrees to stay for one year. Before long, Livvy has settled into her new life in the small town. She begins to make some friends, and soon finds those new connections becoming like family. Will orphan pastry chef, Livvy finally find a home and a family?
What I Liked:
- The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living is a book with a lot of heart. I loved the characters, the small town setting, the delicious food and the heartwarming story. This is a book perfect for a cold winter’s day.
- Livvy is a character that takes awhile to warm up to. At first meeting, Livvy is a bit of a disaster. She is having an affair with her boss, which goes down in flames. She is an orphan with no ties, she never stays anywhere for long. When Livvy takes the job in Guthrie, she begins to change. She soon finds herself making friends, and putting down roots. I loved watching her grow and change.
- The rest of the characters are outstanding. I especially loved curmudgeonly Margaret. She has a tough exterior, but underneath she is smooshy soft, with a big heart. I loved her even more when I learned her back story. I just wanted to squeeze her. Dottie and Henry are adorable as well. I especially loved Henry. Alfred was also another scene stealer. I loved his kind, big heart, and how generous and sweet he was. Let’s not forget Salty, the lovable dog. I loved these characters.
- The story has a lot of heart. It is about choosing your family. Livvy lost her dad at age sixteen, and her mother was absent for most of her life. She has never really known what it means to be part of a family. Soon she finds herself adopted by the Guthrie family. I loved that this was all about friendships and finding a family.
- This book is packed full of scrumptious food. I enjoying reading about all the food. Some of my favorite scenes involved Livvy baking up decadent pastries. Yum!
- The ending was sweet and satisfying. All the loose ends are done up, and it ends in a nice, happy spot.
- I listened to the audiobook version narrated by Jorjeana Marie. I have listened to several books narrated by Ms. Marie, and she never disappoints. Loved the audio version.
And The Not So Much:
- The one thing that held this back from being a five star read for me was the romance. I never felt the romance. It just kind of happens. I wanted more electricity and sparks. I think the problem stemmed from that I didn’t have a strong connection to the love interest. I didn’t think he was as likeable as Alfred. I wish it had more chemistry.
- I was disappointed in they way Livvy treated her best friend Hannah. Hannah was always there for Livvy no matter what, and I don’t think Livvy reciprocated.
- I wanted Livvy and Margaret to really stick it to Jane. Yes, they took the high road, but I wanted some dirt on her. I especially wanted to know how she won the cookie contest at the bake sale.
The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living is a sweet and satisfying book, perfect for winter reading. I loved the characters, the small town setting, the heart and the delicious food. This is a book about finding friends and family. It was a story that made me laugh and cry. Loved it! I will definitely be reading this author again.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own, and I was not compensated for this review.
I borrowed a copy of this book from the library. All opinions are my own, and I was not compensated for this review.