The Struggle is Real

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Have you ever started reading a book, found yourself halfway through it and realized you don’t like the book? That is the quandary I am in now. Do you finish the book? Push through it? Or do you say, forget it, there are too many other books I want to read to waste my time on this one?

 

The Little Beach Street Bakery

littlebakery I picked up The Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan at Half Price Books. I chose it because I liked the title and the cover. Having spent the last several months reading nothing but detective books, I wanted something more lighthearted. 

A broken heart, a job loss, limited funds and a search for a new beginning introduces us to Polly Waterford. She moves to a seaside resort which is only accessible at intervals during the day. Isolation from her friends and family, along with very little money finds her living in an old, rundown flat above an abandoned bakery. Her lifelong love of baking leads her to a job working in a bakery. Not a good bakery, but one run by an unhappy older woman who now brings in her baked goods.

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Polly meets a variety of characters including a handsome and charming fisherman, a beekeeper and a wealthy tycoon. Life on the island is driven by the sea. Has the sea brought joy or heartache? What will it bring for Polly?

There are recipes throughout the book, and I was inspired to try and make bread. Polly makes it sound easy. However, after purchasing bread flour and making a loaf, kneading it by hand, I decided I’d have better luck if I used my Kitchenaid mixer with the kneading hook. bread My bread loaves would make excellent anchors for the fishing ships found on Polly’s new seaside home.  So, if I want to make homemade bread, I will “knead” some personal, hands-on instruction by a real life baker.

This book was a fun read, but it also stirred my emotions. I laughed. I cried. I felt sad, and I felt hopeful.  I went out and bought another Jenny Colgan book.

Why must an author repeat?

I love book series. I love stories which build a history for the characters but I have one complaint. Every author inevitably repeats much of the history at the beginning of the story. This means for those of us who have read the previous books a long repetition of information. Why can’t authors place in the front of the books a headline which is titled:  Character Backgrounds, then write a brief or detailed history of the major characters. It would save those of us who read all the books from tedious repetition and for people who start with a book mid-series they will still have the necessary background information to fully enjoy the story.

Am I the only one who finds this repetition annoying? I understand why authors do it but I just think there has to be a way to spare those of us who read a lot.

Bruno, Chief of Police

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Dear Bruno,

Your life as a village policeman has me hooked. The descriptions of the colorful residents, the countryside and the details of life in a small French village sound wonderful. Of course it can’t be a mystery without turmoil and your fictional village of St. Denis is no exception. A man is found dead with a swastika carved into his chest. What does it mean? The memories of German atrocities still live in the quiet village. How will this mysterious death impact the people and their quiet lives?

How you navigate the world of French bureaucracy is beyond me. All the phone calls to different offices, each in charge of something different. So you end up with too many hands in the pot or cooks in the kitchen. It makes for a crazy way to solve a crime. And all the new European Union Laws which have infringed on the lives of the villagers causing time-tested ways of life to be illegal creates an additional layer of stress.

There is Isabelle and the memory of Katarina, your long-lost love in Kosovo where you met her while serving on a peace keeping mission. But we all know, it was a war because there was no peace. Will Isabelle take away the sting of the lost love? Can you make it work having two careers or will she leave you for Paris? And then there is the mad Englishwoman. What about her is so captivating? Why is she living in France?

And finally there is your cooking and love of wine Bruno. You are a master in the kitchen and reminded me of the importance food plays in our lives. You teach us it’s key to pair the right wine with the food to enhance the flavors of both. You teach us memories are made and shared around the table. Good food, good wine and good friends make for a rich life. You are an orphan no more. Your roots are planted in St. Denis and these people are your family. As my own life has shifted greatly in the past three years because divorce uprooted me, I am now searching for my own St. Denis. I need a place where I can plant myself and grow. And if you have an empty chair at the table, can I come to dinner?

Bisous, Daphne

Life with a Book

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I have had a book blog for a while under a different name. I learned you can not change the name of your blog. If you want a new name, you begin a new blog. So here we are today. I chose Life with a Book because I can’t imagine life without a book. My earliest memories are spending time in the library and reading. Whether it was The Box Car Children, Miss Piggle Wiggle or Nancy Drew I have always loved to read.

Now I will confess I have read few of what are to be considered the classics. And I have promised myself someday I will get around to it, but for now I read for pleasure or to learn something new. The most exciting thing about books, is that you can read for pleasure and learn something new at the same time!

So I am beginning a journey to share with you the books I read, what I have learned from them and how I have incorporated them into my life. I hope you enjoy the journey as much as I do.