Ruth is having a bad day. Her estranged father Guy calls to announce that he broke both wrists, needs help caring for himself, and is moving in with her for a while. Her mother Hollis, who already lives with her and who detests Guy, announces her displeasure over it. Her husband Sam announces that he just lost his job. Her daughter Camille is a moody teenager who never announces much of anything. Ruth's family experiences a lot of turmoil as Hollis and Guy face off against each other, Sam starts thinking about a career change, and the financial concerns begin to mount. To attempt to cope with all this, Ruth does what she always does when under stress: she bakes cakes. For Ruth, cakes are her escape from the pressures of daily life. She even imagines being in the center of a huge warm bundt cake as a means of relaxing meditation. Can Ruth's cakes save the day in this crisis?
This may be a story of a family in crisis, but I wouldn't really call it a dysfunctional family. It is a family struggling to deal with the same pressures and problems that so many families do: aging parents, balky adolescents, unemployment, and midlife career crises. Jeanne Ray's novels are feel-good books full of warmth, humor, and wisdom. "Eat Cake" is no exception. In fact, as I read it I felt as warm and comfortable as if I were in the center of that fresh-from-the-oven bundt cake with Ruth. At the end of the book is a collection of recipes for cakes mentioned in the story. They include such delights as "Sweet potato bundt cake with rum-plumped raisins and a spiced sugar glaze" and "Almond apricot pound cake with amaretto." Read this delectable book, which can be devoured in a sitting or two, and then try your hand at one of the cake recipes. Bon appetit!