Monday, July 23, 2018

The Late Bloomers' Club by Louise Miller

I was thrilled to receive an advanced copy of The Late Bloomers' Club in the mail last week. I absolutely loved Louise Miller's first novel, The City Baker's Guide to Country Living.  Set in the little town of Guthrie, Vermont, this novel has the same warmth and delicious baking that made CBGTCL one of my favorite reads of 2016. 

Nora Huckleberry owns and runs the town's beloved Miss Guthrie Diner; first started by her parents, and inherited by Nora after her mother dies of cancer and her father falls apart. Taking care of her younger sister Kit as a teenager, Nora has always done what she should do, rather than what she wants. The diner is popular, but always has something that needs fixing, and takes up so much of Nora's time she has little for her real passion: creating art. When a local cake baker, Peggy Johnson suddenly dies and leaves her house and land to Nora and Kit, it starts a whole new chance for the town, and Nora, to begin a new life. 

Elliot, a representative from HG Corporation, had been in talks with Peggy before her death on purchasing her land for a new big box store. Nora and Kit could sell the land, pay all their bills, and have some extra cash. It would help Kit with her struggling film career, and help Nora get ahead of diner bills. But Peggy's home includes an old growth orchard and some surprises in the woods. As Nora discovers what Peggy kept hidden from the town, she falls in love with the comfort, quiet, and sense of home Peggy's place provides. And darn it all, Elliot is a cutie, too. Nora has to not only think about what would benefit her, but what a big box store would mean to the town of Guthrie and all the small shop owners who make their living from tourists. It would change the makeup of Guthrie permanently, and while there are benefits, are they worth it?

There's so much more to this novel; I don't want to give any of it away. Cakes are a big part of it all, and like a great cake, you should savor every bite. Peggy's life may have seemed quiet, but she had a lot going on behind the scenes, and those secrets effect Nora and Kit's choices. 

This was such a lovely book to read, especially after The Hunger. The town of Guthrie must surely exist somewhere, and all the wonderful folks who make Guthrie a special place are out there, too. Characters from The City Baker's Guide to Country Living populate this novel, and it felt like a continuing story, with hardly any time gone by. 

A big thank you to Pamela Dorman/Viking for an advanced review copy. Just what this gal needed in the dog days of summer. 

Rating:  5/6 for a delightful return to the small Vermont town of Guthrie. It's never too late to realize your dreams.  And the cakes! Oh, the cakes. Yum. 

Available in hardcover and ebook. 

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