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By Bread Alone [Paperback]

Sarah-Kate Lynch
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Jan 2004
It’s not easy being the adoring mother of one, living in an eccentric tower in the middle of the English countryside coping with a short-sighted goat, a grumpy father-in-law and a dysfunctional swarm of bees, but Esme Slack manages it. Or does she? Sometimes the gob-smackingly gorgeous French sourdough bread she insists on making every day is the only thing she truly believes she is getting right. But is that because it tastes so delicious, or because it reminds her of the girl she once was and, more particularly, of Louis, the village boulanger who saved her from a life of being half-baked? All she has left of the Frenchman is the sourdough starter he gave her, made from the fermented juice of an apple planted 190 years before by his great-great-great-grandparents and still going strong in her kitchen cupboard…until she meets him again by chance.

Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Black Swan; 1st Paperback Edition edition (1 Jan 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 055277104X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0552771047
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 10.2 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 808,260 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Book Description

A handsome French baker looks like being the secret ingredient to refresh Esme’s stale life. But is the recipe for happiness closer to home?

From the Back Cover

Esme has an adoring husband, a treasured son, an evil goat, some angry bees and a suspicion that she will never be happy again. Even baking her precious sourdough no longer works its usual magic. All it does is transport her back to the salty little French bakery where she found and lost her first true love, Louis, the village boulanger. When a chance meeting with this bewitching morsel from her past breathes fresh hope into Esme’s life, the grass starts to look greener on his side of the fence. But is Louis really the secret ingredient Esme needs for a blissful future? Or is the recipe for happiness closer to home?

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First Sentence
Fifteen years later, seventy feet up in the Suffolk seaside air, Esme was juggling quinces. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
3.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This is my second Sarah-Kate Lynch (after reading 'Blessed are the Cheese Makers' earlier this year) and it is every bit as enjoyable. That is actually rather a weak way to describe such a roller coaster book...

Esme has - on the surface - a highly desirable life, but tensions bubbling under are not far away. She buries her angst under a busy routine of tending for her young son, elderly grandmother, partially disabled father in law, adoring husband, idiotic dog, evil goat and a hive of very angry bees. Her bread making, lovingly crafting the delicious Pain Levain sourdough loaves, no longer brings her joy, and her life is falling to pieces. She ruefully comments that although she has all the components for a perfect life, she can't seem to fit them together...

Perhaps she can rekindle her youth again with her first ever lover, the charismatic baker Louis?

The story moves back and forth as Esme tries to settle her life, from humour (and the truly horrible Jemima Jones!) to utter despair. I laughed and cried with Esme, and her multi coloured life.

As with 'Blessed are the Cheese Makers', Sarah-Kate Lynch tantalises the reader with her talk of crispy, chewy crusts, and tender crumbs within... I have to finish this review now as I feel the need to go and bake some bread!!

Enjoy :-)
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars standard chick lit 25 Feb 2004
Having loved Lynch's first book, Blessed Are the Cheesemakers, this was quite a disappointment. Although the plot flicks between Esme's current and sometimes chaotic life, to a summer of teenage awakening in rural France, and features some colourful characters, it still seems to drag.
The best features are the descriptions of baking, although these aren't as evocative as in Blessed Are... or in Joanne Harris's Chocolat, and the characters seem a bit standard (dutiful but dull husband, best friend with disasterous love-life, sarcastic gay friend) and lack the wonderful sparkle of her previous book. The romance is also a bit too Mills & Boon (even for a die-hard romantic like me!)
All in all it is still an ok summer read if you don't fancy anything too demanding, but you may not find yourself raving about it to your friends (as you may have done for Cheesemakers, like I did)
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5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable Read 24 July 2007
I have to say I was surprised to read two of the reviews for this book. A long time fan of this author I have read every one of her books and enjoyed them all. Was there something I missed in By Bread Alone, I wondered? Something that would leap out at me and say 'this wasn't so good' if I should reread it? Well I did read it again, and sorry, but I found it even more enjoyable this time around with its quirky characters and a much loved Granny Mac that only Esme can see. Definitely a keeper.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Nothing Special!! 22 May 2005
I agree totally with other review ,i found this book extremely hard to finish because i really didn't care what happened !I found the bread making descriptions very tedious and found myself skipping over them (there were so many!) ,if these were meant to have extra meaning ,i really didn't get it .I am an avid chick lit fan and can read anything (normally) but i don't think i will be reaching for this authors offerings again if this was anything to go by .
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Esme has her head in the clouds 20 Sep 2005
Esme had a fast paced, corporate life in London 2 years ago, but tragic events led Esme to move her family to their eccentric House in the Clouds in a small, rural village. Esme is an unusual woman, with strange pets and freakish vegetables, trying her best to look after her family and keep herself sane. She seems to have everything to be content if not happy, and yet she patently is not. When the book opens, she isn't even cooking her bread any more, the sourdough boules that she has been making daily for 15 years no longer providing her with their comfort.
As we learn through the unfolding of the book, Esme and bread have been linked to each other since a certain holiday in France - and her first love, her first lover Louis the baker. Louis is the one who taught her the pleasure of sourdough. And now, in this time where Esme feels so cut off from herself and those that she loves, Louis comes back into her life, with the pull of what might have been. And what might not have been - the loss that may have been prevented.
Esme's story is in turns touching, tragic, funny and uplifting. She's a unique woman, fiercely loved, and yet someone trying so hard not to have to come to terms with the changes wrought by the events of the last 2 years. Lynch doesn't let her get away with that, and inevitably leads Esme down the path of discovery and growth.
It's a voyage for Esme, and I enjoyed taking it with her. Esme and her family are very likable, although hardly perfect. Esme is hiding, and that's not very healthy although very human. And that's the best thing about the book for me. Lynch so clearly enjoys her characters warts and all, that I couldn't help but enjoy them too.
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