Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Eat Cake

Yes, another book review.

Yes, another book review on a work of fiction.

Yes, another book review on a work of fiction that includes cake in it's story line.

Hungry yet? ;)

Eat Cake, A Novel by Jeanne Ray was sitting on a shelf at my local library. It beconed me with the name and the strange picture of a woman hiding behind beautiful hat boxes.

Looking for another good summer read, I decided to try it out.

Also, on the inside flap was a card that had been inserted. It read: In Memory of Doris Winters. Given by Sonia and Carroll. I love that. If a park bench has a plaque on it that reads "In Memory of..." I will often pause for a moment as I pass it by. I took the book in part because of the "In Memory of".

But I digress...

Eat Cake began with a wonderful chapter. I was pulled in right away.
"Cakes have gotten a bad rap. People equate virtue with turning down dessert. there is always one person at the table who holds up her hand when I serve the cake. No, really, I couldn't, she says, and then gives her flat stomach a conspiratorial little pat. Everyone who is pressing a fork into that first tender layer looks at the person who declined the plate, and they all think, That person is better is than I am. That person has discipline. But that isn't a person whtih discipline, that is a person who has competely lost touch with joy."

It is the story of how the main character "Ruth" had her life saved by cake. Ruth finds herself surrounded by dysfunctional family members and needs to save her family and herself.

The first few chapers were well written and I liked the way the author created each character so independently yet each relying on the other characters to be able to come alive to us, the reader. One negative thing I have to say, is that the book hits a lull in the middle chapters as page upon page contains dialogue between dysfunctional family members.
I was so over it, I almost quit the book.
Not only did i find those portions un-funny, I found it to compound my own stress about my real life dysfunctional family.
Really people, isn't fiction supposed to be an escape for us from real life? But the writing was still well done and characters are colorful and varied. If you get a kick out of watching an old lady spew out bitterness against an injured old man who can't even pee himself, then by all means, go right out and get a copy.

All that being said, I found that when I had about had it and was going to quit reading 3/4 of the way through, the book suddenly redeemed itself. With the introduction of a new character, the story line takes a turn for the better. I really enjoyed the last several chapters and was glad for the happy ending.

Best of all, the cake includes recipes!! Throughout the story, the main character, Ruth, bakes cakes. Several of her recipes are included in the back of the book. (score!)

One of the cakes she makes is called The Scarlet Empress. I was intrigued. It sounds A-MAZING. Unfortunately, the recipe was not included, but I found it easily online. It appeared in Rose Levey Bernenbaum's The Cake Bible. I can't wait to create my own Scarlett Empress!

Nicely done, Ms. Ray! I think Eat Cake is a great read.

Now, I think I may be on a fiction kick after all (but only if cake is in the pages some how). ;)