Summary and book reviews of Bread Alone by Judith Ryan Hendricks

Bread Alone

By Judith Ryan Hendricks

Bread Alone
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  • Hardcover: Jun 2001,
    352 pages.
    Paperback: May 2002,
    368 pages.

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Book Summary

A deliciously magical and mouthwatering debut, Bread Alone is the uplifting journey of a woman whose entire life changes course when her husband announces one evening that their marriage no longer works for him.

Not suited for teaching high school and hopeless at selling real estate, thirty-one-year-old Wynter Morrison long ago gave up trying to find a suitable career and drifted into the role of a trophy wife -- mainly to suit her husband's desires. An ambitious advertising executive, David had encouraged Wyn to spend her days among other society wives at wine tastings, French films, and trendy restaurants -- improving their social Rolodex and his array of business contacts. So, after seven years of marriage, when David informs Wyn that he feels confined and that their marriage was a mistake, she is left emotionally devastated and without direction, wondering how she let herself become so dependent.

Desperate for a change of scenery, Wyn leaves behind her posh, pampered life in Hancock Park and ventures north to Seattle, where she spends aimless hours at a local bakery, sipping coffee and inhaling the sweet aroma of freshly made bread. These visits bring back memories of her apprenticeship at a French boulangerie, when her passion for bread-making nearly led her to leave college to become a baker. Once again the desire and ambition to bake bread consumes Wyn's thoughts, and when offered a position at the bakery, Wyn quickly accepts, grateful for the comfort of a routine.

Arriving at the bakery just before midnight and working long hours among the bakery's cluster of eclectic women -- Linda, the irascible bread baker; earth mother Ellen and her partner Diane; Tyler, the blue-haired barista -- Wyn awakens to the truths that she missed while living the good life in Hancock Park. And soon she discovers that making bread -- the kneading of the dough, the heat from the ovens -- possesses an unexpected and wondrous healing power, helping her to rediscover that nothing stays the same: bread rises, pain fades, the heart heals, and the future beckons.

Inspiring and beautifully rendered , Bread Alone is an uplifting debut novel -- dusted in the gentlest of magic, full of humor, and guaranteed to warm the heart.

Chapter One
Los Angeles, 1988

The beeping smoke detector wakes me. No, wait. The smoke detector buzzes. When I sit up, the room is wavy, an image in a funhouse mirror. The alarm clock? I turn my head too quickly. It's the old Apache torture. Strips of wet rawhide, tied tight, left to dry.

I swing my legs over the edge of the bed, blink my swollen eyes. My mouth feels like the lint trap in the clothes dryer. I'm wearing a half-slip and the ivory silk blouse I had on last night. My watch has slid up, cutting a deep groove into my arm: 6:45 A.M. An empty bottle of Puligny Montrachet on the night table. I thought only cheap wine gave you a headache. What did I do with the glass?

I stand up, unsteady. Walk downstairs. Carefully. Holding the railing. Into the kitchen. The bread machine. How can such a small machine make such a big noise? The beeps are synchronized to the throbbing in my temples. I hit the button. The beeping stops and the lid swings open, releasing a ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
Introduction

The painstaking process of mixing, kneading, and baking bread may not seem an apt pastime for a woman as acerbic and impulsive as Wynter Morrison. Since graduation from college she has bounced from job to job and man to man, finally ending up as a trophy wife in a posh Los Angeles suburb. She drives a nice car, eats at elegant restaurants, dresses in beautiful clothes, and rubs elbows with high society. But it soon becomes clear that she's been floating through this life. She's happier in jeans than in Chanel, likes walking in the rain more than sitting in traffic, and would rather tear into a hot loaf of sourdough than pick at a fancy salad.

It takes a hurtful wakeup call from her husband to make Wynter aware...
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Reviews

BookBrowse

An intelligent woman's beach book - recommended for home and away.  

Media Reviews
Booklist - Neal Wyatt

The various points of view provided by the wide cast of characters into the modern quest for contentment imbue the novel with lightning fast revelations of how life gets crafted day by day. The result is a novel that is fun to read and meaningful to remember--no small feat at all.

Library Journal - Robin Nesbitt

Hendricks's engaging first novel will appeal to fans of a good story and intriguing characters. Highly recommended.

Publishers Weekly

Inspiring and beautifully rendered , Bread Alone is an uplifting debut novel -- dusted in the gentlest of magic, full of humor, and guaranteed to warm the heart.

The Sunday Times - Elizabeth Buchan

[A] warm-hearted novel of a woman coming to terms with the disintegration of her upmarket marriage and with her new life working in a bakery. The novel's prevailing tone is sassy, but it is never facile, often funny and conveys a convincing sense of the pain of being abandoned.

The Observer (UK)

This is a romance, really, but one for bookish feminists, and a luscious read; it's pure escapism for those who don't want to think but can.

Author Blurb Diane's Books, Greenwich, CT
...this delicious, crusty, filled with surprises first novel is perfection.

Author Blurb Jo-Ann Mapson, LA Times best-selling author of Bad Girl Creek
Thank goodness Judi Hendricks has arrived to write us splendid new novels chock-full of love, struggle, and the wisdom that comes along with the journey. Her writing is graceful, funny, poignant--and best of all, she is a master of women's stories.

Reader Reviews
Billie Zahurak

Bread Alone is a beautiful book! It’s a wonderful first novel from Judi Hendricks from whom I hope to hear much more. You cannot imagine the warm and cozy feelings that simply radiate from the book while you’re reading it. Our book club chose it ...   Read More

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