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Gingerbread: Book summary and reviews of Gingerbread by Helen Oyeyemi

Gingerbread

by Helen Oyeyemi

Gingerbread by Helen Oyeyemi X
Gingerbread by Helen Oyeyemi
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  • Published Mar 2019
    272 pages
    Genre: Literary Fiction

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Book Summary

The prize-winning, bestselling author of Boy, Snow, Bird and What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours returns with a bewitching and inventive novel.

Influenced by the mysterious place gingerbread holds in classic children's stories, beloved novelist Helen Oyeyemi invites readers into a delightful tale of a surprising family legacy, in which the inheritance is a recipe. 

Perdita Lee may appear to be your average British schoolgirl; Harriet Lee may seem just a working mother trying to penetrate the school social hierarchy; but there are signs that they might not be as normal as they think they are. For one thing, they share a gold-painted, seventh-floor walk-up apartment with some surprisingly verbal vegetation. And then there's the gingerbread they make. Londoners may find themselves able to take or leave it, but it's very popular in Druhástrana, the far-away (or, according to many sources, non-existent) land of Harriet Lee's early youth. The world's truest lover of the Lee family gingerbread, however, is Harriet's charismatic childhood friend Gretel Kercheval - a figure who seems to have had a hand in everything (good or bad) that has happened to Harriet since they met. 

Decades later, when teenaged Perdita sets out to find her mother's long-lost friend, it prompts a new telling of Harriet's story. As the book follows the Lees through encounters with jealousy, ambition, family grudges, work, wealth, and real estate, gingerbread seems to be the one thing that reliably holds a constant value. Endlessly surprising and satisfying, written with Helen Oyeyemi's inimitable style and imagination, it is a true feast for the reader.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. This fantastic and fantastical romp is a wonderful addition to her formidable canon." - Publishers Weekly

"Both a scathing indictment of capitalism and a tribute to the maddeningly inescapable endurance of family bonds, this enchanting tale will resonate with literary fiction lovers." - Booklist

"It may require some persistence to keep up with the multiple plot threads, the unusual character names, and the Druhistani lore, but patient readers will be rewarded with a rollicking tale from the wildly inventive Oyeyemi, a Granta Best of Young British Novelists whose Boy, Snow, Bird also demonstrates the author's affinity for folklore." - Library Journal

This information about Gingerbread was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

Reader Reviews

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Naplesreader

Writing taken to a new level of creativity
If you are looking for an easy summer read with a straight forward plot and an ending that's tied up in a bow, this is not the book for you. But if you're looking for a new take on old fairy tales, incredibly forward reading but sometimes ancient feeling writing, this is a wonderful experience. I am often moved by a new way of writing and not just a new story, and this book provides just that. There are somewhat familiar fairy tale elements (a gingerbread recipe, a changeling, absent fathers, a girl named Gretel, a well), but these are juxtaposed with text messages, PTA politics, studying for college entrance exams, pregnancy tests, real estate purchases and the question of nationhood. It's a strangely sweet, sometimes umami melange of styles and tropes with some unforgettable characters and writing that just leaves you breathless.

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Author Information

Helen Oyeyemi Author Biography

Photo: © Manchul Kim

Helen Oyeyemi is the author of the story collection What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours, which won the PEN Open Book Award, along with seven novels, including Peaces, Gingerbread, and Boy, Snow, Bird, which was a finalist for the 2014 Los Angeles Times Book Prize.

Link to Helen Oyeyemi's Website

Name Pronunciation
Helen Oyeyemi: ooo-yee-yemi

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