Excerpt from Bread Alone by Judith Ryan Hendricks, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Bread Alone

by Judith Ryan Hendricks

Bread Alone by Judith Ryan Hendricks
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Jun 2001, 352 pages
    Paperback:
    May 2002, 368 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

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 cloud of scent. I wheel around and vomit into the sink. I turn on the water, rinse out my mouth, stand panting, gripping the cold edge of the slate countertop. Then I remember. David.

I lift out the still warm loaf, set it on the maple butcher block, a perfect brown cube of bread.

The employment agency is a busy office in a glass and steel building near LAX. The windows offer breathtaking views of Interstate 405, still bumper-to-bumper at ten-thirty. Applicants crowd the waiting areamostly women who appear to be ten years younger than me, probably all named Heather or Fawn or Tiffany. The place has a sense of purpose worthy of the war rooms you see in World War II movies. All that's missing is Winston Churchill. No one lingers by the water fountain to chat. Everyone's on the phone or tapping a keyboard or striding resolutely down the hall, eyes averted to avoid distractions. Like me.

The only exception is the young woman at the front desk. When she finishes filing that stubborn broken nail, she looks up with a smile. "Can I help you?"

I try for amused detachment from the whole process. "I have an appointment with Lauren at eleven o'clock. I know I'm early, but..."

"That's okay." She hands me a clipboard with several forms attached to it. "if you'll just fill these Out, we can go ahead and get started with your tests." She gives me a pencil and points to some chrome and leather chairs against one wall.

Tests? Oh shit. I sink down onto a chair, my head still twanging in spite of two aspirins and a double espresso. One thing at a time. Name: "Justine Wynter Franklin." Maybe I shouldn't use my married name. I try to erase Franklin" but the eraser is old and brittle and just makes smudges as it crumbles. I scratch a line through it, print "Morrison." Now it looks like I'm not sure.

Address. Telephone. I nail those two. Date of birth, Social Security number. Type of work desired. "Don't know" probably wouldn't look good. I put down "Office." Too vague? Skills. I stare at the blank space and it seems to grow larger, defying me to fill it.

Well, I can still recite François Villon's "Ballade des pendus." Or discuss the effects of the Industrial Revolution on the English novel. Let's see ... I can make perfect rice with no water left in the bottom of the pot and every grain separate and distinct. I know how to perk up peppercorns and juniper berries that are beyond their shelf life, repair curdled crème anglaise. And if you want to tenderize meat using wine corks or get candle wax out of a tablecloth, I'm your woman. I can tell a genuine Hermès scarf from a Korean knockoff at fifty paces. I have a strong crosscourt backhand. A long time ago, I knew how to type, but even then my speed was nothing to brag about. Someone told me once that I had a nice telephone voice. "Give good phone?"

  • 1
  • 2

Copyright Judi Hendricks. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, William Morrow & Co.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Pachinko
    Pachinko
    by Min Jin Lee
    Pachinko has one of the best opening lines I've encountered in some time: "History has failed us, ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Summer Before the War
    by Helen Simonson
    Set on the cusp of World War I, The Summer Before the War exudes strength and spirit as a small town...
  • Book Jacket: Lincoln in the Bardo
    Lincoln in the Bardo
    by George Saunders
    George Saunders' Lincoln in the Bardo is a philosophy discourse brilliantly disguised as a ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
June
by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore

A novel of suspense and passion about a terrible mistake that changed a family forever.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Caught in the Revolution
    by Helen Rappaport

    A masterful retelling of the Russian Revolution from the author of The Romanov Sisters.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Fifth Petal
    by Brunonia Barry

    Beloved author Brunonia Barry returns to the world of The Lace Reader with this spellbinding new thriller.
    Reader Reviews

Who Said...

Wherever they burn books, in the end will also burn human beings.

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

K Your F C

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.