Olivia is a very talented pastry chef working at an exclusive club in Boston. She's also having an affair with Jamie, a much older married man who is a big wig at the club. One night at a huge party, she accidentally drops a flaming Baked Alaska and starts a fire at the club. Oops. Seeing this as an excuse to leave a messy situation, she flees to Guthrie, Vermont to visit her best friend Hannah. At loose ends, Olivia applies for the pastry chef job at the Sugar Maple Inn, owned by the cranky Margaret. Olivia soon settles into her job, acting non-committal but knowing deep down in her bones that she wants to stay in Guthrie. Olivia and her dog Salty become involved with the McCracken family, who represent everything Olivia has always yearned for in her life. Martin McCracken is not the usual type Olivia goes for; he is kind, kinda cute, and an excellent fiddle player. But his home is in Seattle, and he doesn't plan on remaining in Guthrie forever.
Olivia is a bit of a square peg in Guthrie. She dyes her hair fantastical colors, drinks, and has no problem standing up for herself. You get a sense that Guthrie used to be a very conservative town, but seems to have loosened up. But the same families have lived there for decades, and past loves, slights, and hurts still simmer under the surface. Small town life will always be one where everyone knows your business all the time. Olivia is used to living anonymously in a large city. It's a bit of an adjustment.
There is romance, heartbreak, friendship, sadness, and oodles of baking in this novel. I'm pretty sure I'll have to have some apple pie very soon. As you'll see, it plays a big part in the life of this town. There aren't any surprises in this novel, and that's alright with me. Sometimes a gal just needs a good read that, at the turn of the last page, puts a smile on her face and a bit of sadness in saying goodbye to Olivia and Guthrie, Vermont.
A huge thank you to Pamela Dorman books/Viking for providing a review copy of this book. It made my day to receive this book in the mail.
This novel will be on sale nationwide on August 9th in hardcover, e-book, and audio.
Rating: 7/10 for a novel about finding home, the small pleasures in life, and families that come in all shapes and sizes.