I was awoken at 3am this morning by my dog barking (from under the covers, it would have been funny if it wasn’t so terrifying), and couldn’t get back to sleep. That’s okay though, because it gave me a chance to finish this charming second novel by Louise Miller!
I JUST read The City Baker’s Guide last month, and was so excited when I finished and found out her new one was coming out that day – I ordered it immediately.
Readers get to revisit the fictional town of Guthrie, which is like the Vermont version of Star’s Hollow. This time through the lens of Nora Huckleberry, owner of the Miss Guthrie diner, after inheriting a house and an enormous, coveted piece of property from her neighbor – Peggy the cake lady. But the property comes with strings – there are several leans against it from the neighbor’s debts, and between Nora’s struggling diner, a mysterious woman whose nursing home expenses the neighbor had always covered, and her sister, Kit, who inherited half the property and wants to cash in to fund her independent film project, Nora may have to put the town at risk by selling the property to a dreaded box store. Oh, and did I mention the corporate liaison for said store is quite handsome, and that he’s trying to help Nora capture Peggy’s dog, who went feral when his owner died?
It sounds like a lot going on, but it was a very pleasant, easy read. It might not keep you up all night turning the pages, but it definitely keeps your interest as you invest in this lovely cast of characters. I couldn’t figure out what I wanted for Nora, mainly because her journey in the book was to figure out what she wanted for herself. I enjoyed the witty batter at the diner and between Nora and Max, Kit’s boyfriend, and I loved the authentic feel of the town meeting scenes. And anyone with a sister can identify with the unique dynamics of two people who see the world through different lenses.
The romantic relationship fell just a LITTLE flat for me, and I think that’s because I thought Elliott was SO nice it was hard to believe, considering he was sent to bring “corporate America” to this little haven of a town. But I think we are so used to this type of person being overly douche-y. Still, I would have liked to see a little more tension between them.
While I am more partial to City Baker’s, I found this book no less charming. We get to check in with some of our favorite Guthrie residents (like our friends over at the Sugar Maple Inn), and relax knowing that everything will end happily and tied up in a neat little bow. It has less actual baking than City Baker’s. And with how poetically Miller describes the baking process – airy, forgot to mention here that Nora and Max temporarily took over Peggy’s cake business – you can be sure I will be trying out that burnt sugar cake recipe!