I hate to sound smug, but the fact that I, as a native Vermonter, loved this book, is high praise for debut author Louise Miller. It’s the story of Olivia Rawlings, who accidentally starts a fire in the kitchen if the fancy Boston hotel where she works and feels to the fictional town of Guthrie, Vermont, where her best friend scores her a job as the baker at a quaint country inn. The owner is cantankerous, her accommodations are in an old sugar shack, and she has a little trouble adjusting to the small town where rumors flew about her before she’d even been there a week, but she quickly makes friends with the kitchen staff, rediscovers her love of playing the banjo in a proper country band, and is “adopted” by the McCrackens, family friends of the owner, one of whom is a handsome, rugged man named Martin.
Often people born outside Vermont like to “write down” to Vermont and its citizens, as if the lot of us are uneducated and toothless, living simple, peaceful lives revolving entirely around serving the city folk who deign to visit. While Miller DOES play up the simple life aspect of Vermont, very much fitting into the idyllic stereotype of small-town rural community, I still found it more true-to-life than other “flatlander” authors, I found myself pulled deeply into the charm of Livvy, Salty, Margaret, and the McCrackens. Miller’s writing style is effortless, easy-to-read and easy to be pulled in. Although at times I found it difficult to follow the dialogue, and some of the scenes fell a little flat, it still kept me turning the pages and I looked forward to my reading time, and that’s the sign of a book I’ll return to. Both reading the book and doing the baking it put me in the mood for gave me a great sense of peace and contentment.
I’m very excited to have found Miller, and learned as I was finishing this book that her second releases this week. I immediately ordered it and can’t wait to get my hands on it!