Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Review: Friendship Bread by Darien Gee

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (April 5, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345525345
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345525345

Author Darien Gee on Friendship Bread

Can a loaf of Amish Friendship Bread heal a broken heart and change an entire community?

Friendship Bread opens in the fictitious rivertown of Avalon, Illinois. Like many small communities, Avalon is a place where families gather to share a meal and where neighbors are quick to come to one another’s aid. Visitors are charmed by the quiet simplicity of Avalon, of the scent of fresh-baked goods wafting from Madeline’s Tea Salon, of the sweet bungalow homes that line the shady streets.

But behind every closed door is a story, and on a sunny afternoon in March, my protagonist’s story begins. For five years Julia Evarts has carried a grief that threatens to tear her family apart. She’s going through the motions of life when her young daughter discovers the equivalent of a culinary chain letter sitting on their front porch: a plate of Amish Friendship Bread along with a bag of starter and an anonymous note that says “I HOPE YOU ENJOY IT.” They’re instructed to feed the starter over a ten-day period and then bake two loaves of bread and share the remaining starter with three other people. As the bread and its starter make their way through Julia’s small town, including into the home of her estranged sister, the residents of Avalon, Illinois, find their lives--and hearts--opening in ways both poignant and unexpected.

The novel was inspired by my own experience with Amish Friendship Bread, when my daughter brought it home along with a bag of starter she’d received from a friend. I was eating the last few crumbs when I started to think about a woman who receives the starter and just doesn’t want to do it. I saw a sadness hanging over this character and I knew I wanted to find out more. I started writing and the story quickly took shape--more importantly, it soon became clear that the book wasn’t about any one person, but an entire community ready for change and connection.

Bake Your Own Friendship Bread:

Amish Friendship Bread Starter Recipe [PDF]
Amish Friendship Bread Recipe [PDF]

Product Description


An anonymous gift sends a woman on a journey she never could have anticipated.

One afternoon, Julia Evarts and her five-year-old daughter, Gracie, arrive home to find an unexpected gift on the front porch: a homemade loaf of Amish Friendship Bread and a simple note: I hope you enjoy it. Also included are a bag of starter, instructions on how to make the bread herself, and a request to share it with others.

Still reeling from a personal tragedy that left her estranged from the sister who was once her best friend, Julia remains at a loss as to how to move on with her life. She’d just as soon toss the anonymous gift, but to make Gracie happy, she agrees to bake the bread.

When Julia meets two newcomers to the small town of Avalon, Illinois, she sparks a connection by offering them her extra bread starter. Widow Madeline Davis is laboring to keep her tea salon afloat while Hannah Wang de Brisay, a famed concert cellist, is at a crossroads, her career and marriage having come to an abrupt end. In the warm kitchen of Madeline’s tea salon, the three women forge a friendship that will change their lives forever.

In no time, everyone in Avalon is baking Amish Friendship Bread. But even as the town unites for a benevolent cause and Julia becomes ever closer to her new friends, she realizes the profound necessity of confronting the painful past she shares with her sister.

About life and loss, friendship and community, food and family, Friendship Bread tells the uplifting story of what endures when even the unthinkable happens. 

About the Author


Darien Gee divides her time between Hawaii and the West Coast. She lives with her husband and their three children. Her next novel set in Avalon will be available in 2012.

My Review

I had seen so many positive reviews of this book on the web that I had to read it so I requested it from the library.  I am so thankful that I did.  What a wonderful heartwarming novel.  Quite a few tears of happiness were shed over this book.  I have this burning desire to make a batch of starter and start spreading the love found in Friendship Bread to everyone I know. What a lovely story of love, loss and friendship.

Highly recommend this heartwarming joy of a novel.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, I read this book and I loved it!
    I thought it was very original, I loved the characters. I loved the small town setting.
    I am glad you liked it too.