My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Goodreads: At thirty-six , Hope McKenna-Smith is no stranger to bad news. She lost her mother to cancer, her husband left her for a twenty-two year old, and her bank account is nearly depleted. Her own dreams of becoming a lawyer long gone, she’s running a failing family bakery on Cape Cod and raising a troubled preteen. Now, Hope’s beloved French-born grandmother Mamie, who wowed the Cape with her fabulous pastries for more than fifty years, is drifting away into a haze of Alzheimer’s. But in a rare moment of clarity, Mamie realizes that unless she tells Hope about the past, the secrets she has held on to for so many years will soon be lost forever. Tantalizingly, she reveals mysterious snippets of a tragic history in Paris. And then, arming her with a scrawled list of names, she sends Hope to France to uncover a seventy-year-old mystery.
Hope’s emotional journey takes her through the bakeries of Paris and three religious traditions, all guided by Mamie’s fairy tales and the sweet tastes of home. As Hope pieces together her family’s history, she finds horrific Holocaust stories mixed with powerful testimonies of her family’s will to survive in a world gone mad. And to reunite two lovers torn apart by terror, all she’ll need is a dash of courage, and the belief that God exists everywhere, even in cake. . . .
My thoughts: Absolutely moving, charming, and full of hope and symbolism. There is so much to the story that touches on so many levels and important topics. The book opens with Hope, a middle aged mother with learned pessimism. Barely hanging onto her family bakery, she is also struggling with her 12 year old daughter and coldness she feels in her own heart, her feelings of inadequacy she carried from childhood, and her ex-husband. The icing on the cake is her French grandmother fading into Alzheimer's.
Rose's story is slowly revealed throughout the novel and redefines Hope's identity. Rose lived through WWII where she met and married an American while in Spain. But there were people she loved and lost and tried to forget. Before she does, she asks Hope to search for their fates. Her goal is to give Hope her true legacy.
I could not put the book down. It ranks up there with a book by Kristen Hannah but with a historical fiction flavor that had me nearly in tears as the characters relive the Holocaust. Bring tissues but be prepared to feel uplifted.
I hope you win.
You're my favorite, you know.
*I received a free copy of this book from publishing company in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed here are my own.