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By Bread Alone Paperback – 1 Jan 2004
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"A whimsical, heart-warming romp through life, love, disappointment, and redemption."
A handsome French baker looks like being the secret ingredient to refresh Esmes stale life. But is the recipe for happiness closer to home?See all Product description
Top Customer Reviews
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!!
In this story, it is the sourdough starter which is the magic ingredient - 'the living, breathing, bubbling mixture of the past and the present that ... added to every batch of flour and water to turn it inot the future.' It is the starter that forms the link for Esme between the most beautiful summer of her life, in her late teens, when she falls madly in love with a young baker in a small village in France, and her life fifteen years later, when things aren't quite so rosy.
Now Esme is married to Pog, they have a young son, they live in the House in the Clouds in Suffolk, her father-in-law lives with them, as does her grandmother. It is fairly clear early on in the story that something awful has happened to this family, and it is just not talked about, which is why the reader never finds out till the end either. The constant through the last fifteen years has been Esme's daily sour dough breadmaking, still using that same starter she created that summer in France. Esme simply cannot help herself focussing on the happy times in her life, just to get her through her days. And of course the memory of her summer with Louis is at the forefront of that.
A chance meeting with Louis threatens to completely derail Esme, or does it offer her the unbelieveable opportunity to start her life again with the man she can never forget? And off we go on a breath holding will she or won't she? Yes do it, you say to yourself, surrender to love and Louis, then no, don't leave Pog, make more bread, someone save her!!!!Read more ›
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)
Most Recent Customer Reviews
serious problems, treated superficially, with brittle, silly humour, and abrupt changes of view, of place and of time... Read morePublished 17 months ago by april
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. Read morePublished on 20 Sept. 2005 by K. Newman