My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Running her own bakeshop, the Wild Rise, will finally fill the void in 30-something Liesel McNamara’s life—won’t it? She sure has wagered all her dough on it—and the array of artisan sourdough starters, some as old as her history itself.
An artisan bakery in Billingston, Vermont is the setting for Christa Parrish’s latest novel, Stones for Bread. It is a story of a woman seeking to find herself after an adolescent tragedy. A chance to compete on the Good Food Network for $10,000 (enough for Paris!), the revelation of a life-changing secret, and the possibility of the love of a good man are all plot elements that pulled me through this fabulous book way too fast.
The characters were a highlight for me. Besides Liesel there is single father Seamus and his five-year-old daughter Cecilia, Xavier—Liesel’s 71-year-old head baker, Tee—the Ukrainian cook, and lots of others. All are richly drawn, believable and sympathetic. Parrish’s handling of the tiny-bit-spoiled five-year-old Cecilia was, I felt, especially well done.
Parrish weaves her magic in many ways. The story is told solely through Liesel’s eyes. Each chapter begins with a scene from her history, helping us piece together why she is the way the she is. And how is that? Here she sees herself in contrast to co-worker Gretchen: “Perhaps it’s who she is, relaxed and round and fizzy. I have too many angles to get close” – Kindle Location 230.
Parrish also includes lots of information about bread, its lore, its place in history and religion, and actual recipes from Liesel’s notebook, complete with her own notations of how to make it right (bread geek that she is). I’m tempted to try some of these—only using my bread machine (please don’t tell her though).
A Christian worldview foundations and subtly pervades the book throughout. Many wonderful allusions to the bread imagery in the Bible make it all the richer.
The writing is wonderful too. Here are two bits I highlighted:
“…Oma’s (hair) with streaks of soot gray where her youth has burned away” K.L. 333.
“Seamus looks smaller. His size hasn’t changed, but the layer of pride we all have beneath our skin, the one reminding us how well we care for our own, that has lost some of its girth” K.L. 909.
Stones for Bread is a perfect read for a cold winter night by the fire, or consume it as a side with soup and dark pumpernickel.
I received Stones for Bread as a gift from the publisher, Thomas Nelson, for the purpose of writing a review.