I enjoyed Judith Hendricks' other books "Bread Alone" and "Isabel's Daughter," so when I found out that "The Baker's Apprentice," sequel to "Bread Alone," had come out, I rushed out to read it. Like several other Amazon reviewers have mentioned, "The Baker's Apprentice" lacked the cohesion of the first Wynter novel. There are still the zany characters that share Wynter's passion for baking at Seattle's funky Queen Street Bakery: owner Ellen, the cantankerous Linda, the Mazurkoids, and Tyler, former barista and now Wyn's unwilling apprentice.
Wynter is waiting on her divorce settlement and is strapped for cash, having borrowed $15,000 from her mother to become a partner in the bakery. Although the sex is great, her sometime boyfriend Mac is experiencing personal (emotional) problems, and splits for Alaska to rewrite his rejected manuscript. Things at work are well nigh unbearable: new cake decorator Maggie and barista Tyler are engaged in a perpetual war against each other, creating tension and worse. Wynter is left to pick up the pieces, and after Linda retires, Tyler is made a baker's apprentice in her place. Surprisingly, the artistic Tyler proves a quick study. Wynter is offered the chance to return to Toulouse to visit the bakery where she had a fateful internship in college, hoping to learn new bread wisdom from the master baker she once dreamed of seducing.
There are several mouthwatering recipes included (Hazelnut Cappuccino Scones, Tyler's Indian Maiden Bread, fouace aux noix), and Hendricks' lush descriptions of the process of baking, baked goods, and the luscious dinners that Wynter whips up borders on food porn. However, the plot slows to a crawl at times, with too much of the book devoted to Mac's narrations of life in Beaverton, Yukon Territories. The numerous secondary characters' crises and dilemmas never seem adequately resolved, and the ending is abrupt.
Newcomers may want to start with "Bread Alone," since a good deal of "The Baker's Apprentice" is explained in the first novel. For those who enjoyed "Bread Alone" or who enjoy breadmaking, "The Baker's Apprentice" is a pleasing, mouth-watering read. At any rate, I enjoyed the rich descriptions, tasty recipes, and closure of Wynter and Mac's journey.