Monday, February 11, 2013

The Union Street Bakery by Mary Ellen Taylor

The title and the cover grabbed me on this one! But the story kept me turning the pages on Sunday, and coupled with a rainy day I quickly read this and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Daisy McCrae has lost her job as an investment banker, gone through all of her unemployment, and finds herself back in the family fold:  her parent's bakery in Alexandria, Virginia.  She's even living above the bakery in the attic and sleeping on a couch.  She's about as low as she can get.  But with no where to go, and no money, she's agreed to help out her sisters Rachel and Margaret run the bakery.  When she arrives, she quickly realizes the bakery is thisclose to shutting it's doors permanently. It seems Rachel is an amazing baker, but not so good with the books.  

Daisy is a bit different from her sisters--she's adopted.  Her mother left her sitting at the bakery when she was 3 years old, and the McCraes took her in and eventually adopted her.  She's not only physically different looking from her sisters, but has always felt abandoned and lost never knowing why her mother left her.  It has  colored her world; she left the bakery and moved away as quickly as possible.  Now that she's back, she has to face her demons and learn to forgive and forget.

That's one storyline.  The other storyline involves an elderly woman, Mabel.  She leaves a  150 year old journal to Daisy, and with the help of Margaret, they start to uncover the mysteries of Susie, a slave that lived in the area before the Civil War.  She's also the ghost that Daisy has seen upstairs from the bakery since she was a child.  What's the connection?  And who's the angry man spirit that keeps showing up in Daisy's attic apartment?  

I couldn't put this one down.  It was a perfect read for a rainy Sunday.  Daisy is a bit prickly, and her relationships with her sisters are a main focus of this novel.  She's looking for answers and feels that too much is happening all at once--it's a bit overwhelming.  Enter in her ex-boyfriend Gordon, and she's got a lot on her plate.  But--I loved the cooking/baking in this novel, the family ties, and the mysterious journal.  It all comes together in a neat bow and Daisy finds closure on a lot of her issues.

Available in paperback or in e-book format

Rating:  6/10  Loved the characters--even though Daisy was a bit prickly at times and I wanted to shake her!  The bakery was a lovely character in itself and helped to shine the light on the struggles of small businesses to flourish in today's world.

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