Book info

By Bread Alone (2005)

By Bread Alone (2005)
Rating
3.56 of 5 Votes: 3
ISBN
0446696277 (ISBN13: 9780446696272)
languge
English
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publisher
grand central publishing
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By Bread Alone (2005)
By Bread Alone (2005)

About book: I love Sarah-Kate Lynch's novels. They have at their core an item of food or drink - cheese, champagne, bread, baking, honey, or have a backdrop of food - and love. All so delicious, a tasty treat, with surprises and a bit of magic thrown in.In this story, it is the sourdough starter which is the magic ingredient - 'the living, breathing, bubbling mixture of the past and the present that ... added to every batch of flour and water to turn it inot the future.' It is the starter that forms the link for Esme between the most beautiful summer of her life, in her late teens, when she falls madly in love with a young baker in a small village in France, and her life fifteen years later, when things aren't quite so rosy. Now Esme is married to Pog, they have a young son, they live in the House in the Clouds in Suffolk, her father-in-law lives with them, as does her grandmother. It is fairly clear early on in the story that something awful has happened to this family, and it is just not talked about, which is why the reader never finds out till the end either. The constant through the last fifteen years has been Esme's daily sour dough breadmaking, still using that same starter she created that summer in France. Esme simply cannot help herself focussing on the happy times in her life, just to get her through her days. And of course the memory of her summer with Louis is at the forefront of that. A chance meeting with Louis threatens to completely derail Esme, or does it offer her the unbelieveable opportunity to start her life again with the man she can never forget? And off we go on a breath holding will she or won't she? Yes do it, you say to yourself, surrender to love and Louis, then no, don't leave Pog, make more bread, someone save her!!!!A lovely frothy treat of a read, with a very worthy message at the end - Man, or woman for that matter, cannot live by bread alone. Cryptic I know, but all will become clear. Now, off to make my own starter - the recipe at the end of the book is not the one used by Esme, but according to the author is the best she has tried, and it would seem she tried a few.

No matter if you've dearly loved one of Sarah-Kate Lynch's novels, as I have recently with "The Wedding Bees," the first of hers that I read, she tends to do something utterly frustrating at the beginning of her novels. With "The Wedding Bees," it was not using American vernacular in the early pages in what was clearly an American setting, yet in hindsight, with all the joy and love and happiness that novel contained, it was all right and actually made sense.This time, in "By Bread Alone," Lynch beats the reader over the head with SOMETHING TRAGIC HAPPENED IN THIS WOMAN'S LIFE! YES, SOMETHING HORRIBLE! YES, YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT IT IN EVERY OTHER PARAGRAPH BUT I'M NOT GOING TO TELL YOU UNTIL TOWARDS THE END WHEN IT'LL MAKE A LOT MORE SENSE! HOLD ON! ANOTHER PARAGRAPH'S COMING UP! TIME TO HINT AT THE PAST TRAGEDY!And yet, at the rate "By Bread Alone" is going, I'm sure I'll be utterly charmed yet again by her storytelling magic and the heavy drama mallet she uses won't matter as much.(Update on Thursday, June 19, 2014 at 8:36 p.m.: Well, I read most of it, but couldn't get past the last 120 pages (I skimmed the rest), which I hope will be the only time it happens with a Sarah-Kate Lynch novel. The engine for this novel seems to be "mopeymopeymopeymopeymopeyPASSIONATEFLASHBACKmopeymopeymopeymopeyLOVELORNFLASHBACKmopeymopeymopeymopeySHOCKFORTHEREADERmopeymopeymopeymopeymopeyREASONFORHERMOPINESSgettingtheregettingtheregettingthereSHEFINALLYGETSHERSHITTOGETHER!"All of this would have been fine if Lynch adopted a faster pace. Not every novel has to be fast-paced, but she has no rhythm here, nothing to engender curiosity about where Esme was going to go from her current situation. From the beginning is where Lynch should have began that, giving us something to go on. There is plenty of wit to be found, but you have to read through a lot of drag to find it.Fortunately, "By Bread Alone" was one of Lynch's early novels, and "The Wedding Bees" shows that she has learned from this experience and become a much better novelist.
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Reviews
Kathryn
By Bread Alone is a well written, well thought out story. Esme is a woman in crisis, although she'd rather everyone around her thought she is fine. Her husband Pog misses the sourdough bread she is so good at baking, her father-in-law grumps at her, her grandma gives her some advice and her four year old son Rory prefers to call her Esme.The family lives in a tall house, called House of the Clouds, with the kitchen at the top in Suffolk. There has been some effort made to live an idyllic country life but it doesn't all work out perfectly. Esme is not really happy and there is a part of her that longs for the success she might have had in London in the publishing/TV business. She wonders if she should have pursued her first love relationship with a Frenchman - Louis. She confides her discontent to her gay friend- Charlie, who sets out to play God in this realm.After awhile it becomes obvious there is a dark cloud hanging over the house, and Esme allows no one to speak of it. Her husband suggests they look for counselling but Esme shies away. She doesn't want to talk about it.A series of events lands Esme in some comprising situations, but there are people there who are supportive and gradually the dark secret is taken out of the cupboard and acknowledged and explored. Everyone's guilt, unhappiness and beliefs are taken out and aired, and in the doing of it life starts to look up for Esme and her family.For some reason I didn't find myself wholly engaged with the book, I didn't hook in very well to it. I am not sure why, I was pleased to see how it all worked out, and enjoyed one little surprise at the end which made me chuckle because I had missed any clues completely.
Pythia
All'inizio è un po' lento e oscuro, ci ho messo un po' a farmi prendere dalla storia: poi un po' alla volta sono rimasta impastata come il sale nel pane e non me ne sono affatto pentita.Tra un presente di dolore e rinascita, con due eventi che hanno sconvolto la vita dei protagonisti, di cui uno si sa che è avvenuto ma non se ne parla, mentre dell'altro si intuisce la presenza ma non si riesce ad inquadrare fino alla fine, e un passato di ricordi dolceamari, le vicende di Esme e della sua bizzarra famiglia allargata non possono non conquistare. Da tenere a portata di mano i fazzoletti, lacrime assicurate.Alla fine è difficile non immaginarsi a sperimentare il lievito madre e il pane, veri protagonisti del romanzo: e se non si tenterà, sicuramente non si guarderà più il pane con gli stessi occhi.
Elizabeth
A half-baked "Bridget Jones" wanna-be tale filled with cutesy slang and annoying implausible characters. The story meandered between being a joyous romp and a maudlin romance. The sourdough bread that was featured throughout the book probably sounds good to people who don't bake bread. But two giant flaws in the bread section drove me mad: 1) the instruction to oil the rising bowl and 2) the fact that a seasoned baker would slice into a loaf of sourdough just out of the oven. There is no way that a real baker would allow anyone to slice into a loaf of bread that wasn't yet finished baking. The most irritating thing about the book was that I bothered finishing it. There is a recipe for sourdough bread, apparently based on Poilane's, at the end of the book that appears to be correct (except for the instructions to oil the rising bowl and spray the walls of the oven to create steam). The included starter recipe probably works but anyone who has never worked with wild yeast before and is wanting to try would be much better off getting an actual bread making cookbook (Nancy Silverton, Daniel Leader, Joe Ortiz, Dan Lepard, Andrew Whitley spring to mind).
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