By Darien Gee
Ballantine Books, Hardcover, 9780345525345, 400pp.
Publication Date: April 5, 2011
An anonymous gift sends a woman on a journey she never could have anticipated.
One afternoon, Julia Evarts and her five-year-old daughter, Gracie, arrive home to find an unexpected gift on the front porch: a homemade loaf of Amish Friendship Bread and a simple note: I hope you enjoy it. Also included are a bag of starter, instructions on how to make the bread herself, and a request to share it with others.
Still reeling from a personal tragedy that left her estranged from the sister who was once her best friend, Julia remains at a loss as to how to move on with her life. She’d just as soon toss the anonymous gift, but to make Gracie happy, she agrees to bake the bread.
When Julia meets two newcomers to the small town of Avalon, Illinois, she sparks a connection by offering them her extra bread starter. Widow Madeline Davis is laboring to keep her tea salon afloat while Hannah Wang de Brisay, a famed concert cellist, is at a crossroads, her career and marriage having come to an abrupt end. In the warm kitchen of Madeline’s tea salon, the three women forge a friendship that will change their lives forever.
In no time, everyone in Avalon is baking Amish Friendship Bread. But even as the town unites for a benevolent cause and Julia becomes ever closer to her new friends, she realizes the profound necessity of confronting the painful past she shares with her sister.
About life and loss, friendship and community, food and family, Friendship Bread tells the uplifting story of what endures when even the unthinkable happens.
“The novel traces the effect of the friendship bread on a small town, jumping from neighbor to neighbor, but focuses on a small group of women whose lives need mending…Gee admirably weaves the various lives together…and demonstrates that simple companionship is a powerful balm…A satisfying first novel by Gee; perfect for the book-club circuit and beyond.”—Kirkus
“This entertaining series debut by Gee (who also writes as Mia King) will appeal to fans of tearjerkers like Kristin Hannah’s Winter Garden or novels dealing with the loss of a family member, such as Lolly Winston’s Good Grief. It’s also ideal for book clubs and readers who like stories about small-town life; it expertly weaves together numerous characters and narratives and even includes recipes and directions for making friendship bread.”—Library Journal
“Deliciously entertaining! You'll root all the way as these characters stumble toward forgiveness, understanding, and, ultimately, celebration. A perfect book club selection, Friendship Bread is a treat worth sharing with all the women in your life."—Kate Jacobs, New York Times bestselling author of The Friday Night Knitting Club
“The wonderful characters in Friendship Bread face life-changing adversity of the sort that either brings us down or transforms us into better people. Darien Gee has a writer’s heart and a baker’s sense of mixing it all just right. The result is a book you will read over and over.”—Nancy Pickard, New York Times bestselling author of The Scent of Rain and Lightning
“As comforting, warm and delicious as a slice of freshly-baked friendship bread.”—Jane Green, New York Times bestselling author of Promises to Keep
“Friendship Bread is a poignant, utterly compelling read. Darien Gee has deftly created a small town so endearing, you won’t want to leave. Friendship Bread is a novel you won’t soon forget.”—Patricia Wood, national bestselling author of Lottery
“Friendship Bread is a heartwarming novel that celebrates small town life, good friends, and the healing power of bread. Like the bread of the title, read this then pass it on to someone you love!”—Ann Hood, national bestselling author of The Red Thread
“Friendship Bread is a vivid, tender portrait of friends, a window into the intricacies of friendship itself. Darien Gee writes with great warmth and wisdom, with deep insight into her characters. She is a wonderful writer.”—Luanne Rice, New York Times bestselling author of The Geometry of Sisters