Title: How to Eat a Cupcake
Author: Meg Donohue
Publisher: Harper, 2012
Release date: March 13, 2012
It's been 10 years since Annie Quintana and Julia St. Clair have seen each other—10 years since a deep betrayal, since the end of their friendship, and since Annie's mother's sudden death. But now fate has thrown the two women together—one a successful businesswoman, and the other a creative and extremely talented baker. They will try to get past old wounds, and new painful secrets, to open up a successful cupcakery in their city of San Francisco, despite someone's determination to see that they fail.
This novel is told from both Annie's and Julia's perspectives, chapters alternating between the two. Annie is very wary of Julia, who stabbed her in the back by starting rumors that led to a deterioration in the relationship Annie had with her mother right before her death. Annie has not forgiven Julia for that, and is only going along with this scheme to get to her goal of owning her own bakery. Julia, on the other hand, has a secret she's hiding from everyone, including her fiance Wes, and it could be something that will end their engagement. In order to get past the pain of this secret and focus on something else, she comes up with the plan to start this business venture with Annie when she tries one of her cupcakes for the first time at a party her mother throws.
I really liked this. It wasn't the best book I've ever read, but it was completely what I was anticipating when I opened it up. Annie is sarcastic and funny; I'd describe her as a firecracker. She's got a lot of passion for what she does, and a lot of emotion buried deep inside her. I really enjoyed her sections of the book, not only because I was interested in her story, but because I loved her voice. Julia is very unlikable at first, but as the chapters go on, we see that undercurrent of loss she's hiding from the world and how that has changed her as a person. I loved seeing the dynamic of their relationship change over time.
Also, there are the cupcakes. I love reading about baking and food, and if you are like me, this is the perfect book to whet your appetite. Literally. I wanted one of those gourmet cupcakes Annie bakes, especially one with the unusual but delicious-sounding ingredient combinations.
I was surprised to find that this book also had elements of a thriller. There's a vandal targeting the cupcake shop, and we're not sure why. It all comes to a fairly exciting conclusion toward the very end of the book, and I was pleased with how Donohue worked it in so well.
I did have a few problems with the book, unfortunately. Some of you may know my pet peeve of an author using one particular word far too often to describe something. Well, Julia's mother Lolly never says anything, she always ALWAYS "rasps" it. Why? It's not necessary to have that there every. single. time. Another element I didn't like was the not-so-subtle foreshadowing that goes on. The "Maybe if I had known what was coming, I wouldn't have done this." A variation of that sentence appeared so many times that I got very irritated with it. And to make matters worse, it made the upcoming events sound way more awful and terrible than they actually are. It was like there was a cloud of doom hanging over the cupcake shop for no reason most of the time. I mean, yes, bad things do happen, but don't make it sound like everyone dies.
As far as teen appeal goes, some might be turned off by the older narrators (they're both 28), but Annie gives the story enough kick to give interest, in my opinion. Aspiring bakers or cupcake lovers will probably enjoy this story, too.
But, despite my misgivings, this was a fun book with some drama that comes together in a satisfying way at the end. Plus, you know, cupcakes.
Disclosure: This book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.