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Baker's Apprentice

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Overview

The sequel to Judith Ryan Hendricks' absorbing debut novel, Bread Alone

Having found her calling, Wynter Morrison is blissful about her new career in Seattle as a baker — cherishing the long days spent making bread and the comforting rhythms of the Queen Street Bakery. Still, she struggles with the legacy of her failed marriage and with her new boyfriend Mac's reluctance to share his mysterious past. When Mac abruptly leaves Seattle, Wyn again feels abandoned and betrayed, at ...

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The Baker's Apprentice

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Overview

The sequel to Judith Ryan Hendricks' absorbing debut novel, Bread Alone

Having found her calling, Wynter Morrison is blissful about her new career in Seattle as a baker — cherishing the long days spent making bread and the comforting rhythms of the Queen Street Bakery. Still, she struggles with the legacy of her failed marriage and with her new boyfriend Mac's reluctance to share his mysterious past. When Mac abruptly leaves Seattle, Wyn again feels abandoned and betrayed, at least until intimate letters arrive in which Mac at last reveals his deepest secrets. But the more she learns about her absent lover, the more Wyn discovers about herself — and when tragedy threatens, she will have to decide if there is a place for Mac in this new life she has made.

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Editorial Reviews

Booklist
“[An] engagnig sequel... a fulfilling and happy reading experience.”
The Santa Fe New Mexican
“Food talk, romance and recipes—what more could a reader want?”
Seattle Post-Intelligencer
“Hendricks rolls out a delicious sequel in Baker’s Apprentice... Prepare to have your appetite teased and stimulated, often.”
Library Journal
Readers first met Wynter Morrison in Hendricks's novel Bread Alone. Wyn is back, and she and Mac have developed a relationship she only dreamed of before. With Ellen, Wyn is running the bakery, enduring all the challenges as she continues to learn the art of bread baking. When they hire Maggie, a cake designer, the tension starts to mount. Meanwhile, Mac has sent a manuscript to a New York agent. He goes off to Alaska to work on it, leaving Wyn hurt, angry, and in a tailspin. When confronted by a threat to the bakery, Wyn draws on an inner strength she didn't realize she possessed. The novel gains momentum as the story moves along. Hendricks has created another engaging tale of modern life in Seattle. Fans of strong female characters will appreciate the cast who populate this novel. Recommended for public libraries.-Robin Nesbitt, Columbus Metropolitan Lib., OH Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A sequel of sorts to Hendricks's anemic Bread Alone (2003) features the same implausible characters. Wynter Morrison, once the miserable wife of a rich man, now kneads bread in a hip bakery and flirts with disaster in the form of Mac, a freewheeling bartender. Of course he loves her. Doesn't he show up every once in a while to kiss her six ways from Sunday and pick globs of dough out of her disheveled hair? Who could ask for anything more? Not Wynter. She happily tends to the needs of the baker's regulars, like old Mrs. Gunnerson, who complains there aren't any doughnuts and packs her own teabag. The brand is duly noted, along with much other trivia that studs the practically nonexistent plot. Yet Wynter's days aren't uneventful: the bakery toilet has a broken link in the flapper-valve chain. Its dangling ends must be reconnected somehow ("I go back to the register to get a paper clip"). There are no bananas. And still no plot. The tide of Seattle life flows through the neighborhood: starving artists, a merchant marine contingent, thrift-shop patrons, the homeless, a few punkers, an occasional condo resident. Mac heads for the Yukon and writes back about the austere glory of the country where everyone goes to get lost-but, hey, he wants to find himself, a search aided by aging hippie queen Rhiannon Blue, who sells mooseburgers and reads tarot cards. Should he go back to Seattle? Every time he eats bread, he thinks of Wyn. But a man must do what a man must do-whatever that is. Lackluster atmosphere still doesn't make up for lack of a plot. Wynter frets: Did he leave because she was pushy, controlling, emotional? Maybe she can chat with her glamorpuss girlfriend CM or straighten out Tyler,a troubled teenager who serves in the shop. Uh-oh. The bakery's building is for sale. Can gentrification be far off? A whole-grain never-never-land romance of amiable stereotypes. Agent: Deborah Schneider/Gelfman Schneider
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060726188
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/14/2006
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 255,905
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.80 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

A former journalist, copywriter, computer instructor, travel agent, waitress, and baker, Judith Ryan Hendricks is the author of three previous novels, including the bestseller Bread Alone. She and her husband live in New Mexico.

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First Chapter

The Baker's Apprentice

Chapter One

Seattle, September 1989

Linda LaGardia is about the most annoying human being I've ever met. Irascible, embittered, humorless, devoid of common courtesy -- and that's on a good day. Fortunately, she's also totally lacking in imagination, one of those people who seems to go through life with her head down, watching her feet take each plodding step. Fortunately, because that means she's generally too self-absorbed to really get in anyone's way. Much as she can't stand me, most of the time she simply acts like I don't exist.

All through our shift tonight, she's been singing little tuneless songs under her breath, muttering to herself about her kids, Paige and Ed Jr., and her no-good scumbag of an ex-husband, Ed Sr., who's been dead now for over six months.

I'm standing, she's sitting at the worktable shaping loaves of cheese bread and dropping them into oiled pans. "Yeah, I went to the doctor yesterday," she says from out of the blue. Caught off guard, I can't suppress a chuckle. It's so totally out of character for her to start a conversation.

"Somethin' funny about that?"

"Not about going to the doctor. I just think it's funny that you want to talk to me about it. I've been working here for over a year now, and we've never had any kind of meaningful dialogue before. That I recall."

"That's because you're always runnin' your mouth or playin' that god-awful screechin' music."

I close my eyes. "Oh, right. Now I remember."

"Last time he said my blood pressure's too high."

"How high?"

She waves her hand dismissively. "A hundred and eighty."

"Over what?"

"What d'ya mean over what? A hundred-eighty's what he said."

"Blood pressure is usually two numbers, like one-eighty over one-ten or something like that."

"Ahh, who knows. He was throwin' all kinds of numbers around." A few minutes later she says, "He wants me to take some tests."

"What kind?" I keep my eyes on the bread in front of me.

"Stress test or somethin'." She detaches the dough hook from one of the Hobarts, carries it to the sink, then hesitates, lost in some internal debate. She turns on the water, then abruptly turns it off. "I don't guess you'd know what it is?"

The tone of voice is so unlike her that I turn around. "What what is?"

"Stress test," she mumbles. She scrubs the dough hook furiously. "Didn't the doctor tell you?"

" 'Course he didn't tell me. They never tell ya nothin' if they can help it."

"They just hook you up to these electrodes -- "

"Electr -- ?" She makes a little sputter of alarm. "Does it shock ya?"

"No, no. It doesn't hurt. You just walk on this treadmill and they read your heart rate. It's not a big deal."

"I figured as much." She sniffs, embarrassed. "I gotta be there early. Guess you'll have to handle cleanup yourself. Too bad."

I reach over and turn up the boom box with my knuckles.


At five-thirty a.m. the sun is a faint pinkish glow filtered through fog. Linda's out front, loading banana-cinnamon-swirl bread onto the rack behind the register. The street is still quiet enough that I hear the engine before I see the headlights. The sound is unmistakable, as individual as a fingerprint. A truck. A 1971 Chevy El Camino in need of a tune-up. Mac.

My heart and my stomach decide to switch places.

I turn, just in time to see the Elky roll up in front of the bakery, unsavory looking as ever, its paint oxidized to a soft ivory that suggests that once upon a time it was white. Only the newly painted right-rear fender gleams like an anchorman's smile.

I thought he wouldn't be back till the end of the month. I thought . . . well, I thought a lot of things. Two weeks ago in the San Juan Islands, we wrecked a perfectly good friendship by making love for the first time. I sort of thought he'd call me, but he hasn't. Is he sorry it happened? Am I? What should I say? Should I run out and throw myself on him? Should I be cool? Let him know he can't take anything for granted? Act like it never happened?

I push my hair back and take a deep breath. Be casual. Hi. How are you? I didn't think you'd be back so soon. Then I remember that my hands are covered with wet dough. I wipe them on the towel that hangs from my apron strings and force myself to walk slowly around the end of the counter and out the door. He's on the curb, reaching inside the truck for something, and when he hears the door, he turns around. Before I have a chance to launch my carefully noncommittal greeting, he picks me up in his arms and crushes me against him till I can't breathe and don't particularly care to.

After we've tried kissing from a number of different angles, he sets me down on the sidewalk. I rearrange my apron and my bunched-up T-shirt, and he laughs as he extricates a few little globs of dough from my hair.

"I thought you weren't coming back till ... later." I wish I didn't sound so breathless.

The look he turns on me makes my knees feel jointed at the back, like flamingo legs. "I couldn't wait that long," he says. "What time are you off?"

"Seven, but -- "

"I'll be back then."

"Where are you going?"

"Kenny said I could stay with him for a few days till I find a place. I'm going to drop my stuff off there." He leans over to kiss me again. "And take a cold shower."

Gone again.

Linda rolls her eyes ceilingward when I come back inside, rubbing my bare arms from the chilly mist.

"Looks like one divorce didn't learn you nothin'."

"Teach," I say absently. "It didn't teach me anything."

The Baker's Apprentice. Copyright © by Judith Hendricks. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Reading Group Guide

Introduction

Judith Ryan Hendricks, who Booklist has said "calls to mind Barbara Kingsolver in her affinity for wise women and the power of close female friendships," continues the saga of the Queen Street Bakery in The Baker's Apprentice.

Wynter Morrison -- first introduced in the bestselling Bread Alone -- has found contentment in a life very different from anything she ever imagined: making bread on the night shift, learning the fine points of running a bakery, and exploring the possibilities of a relationship with Mac, her on-again, off-again love interest.

But Mac's failure to deal with issues in his past creates friction, Wyn's soon-to-be-ex husband is turning their divorce into guerrilla warfare, and she is reminded of how quickly life can reverse direction without warning.

Mac's abrupt departure is a shock, but conflicts at the bakery and her friend Tyler's tragic loss afford Wyn little time for brooding. Then letters from Mac begin to arrive, casual and distant at first, but gradually becoming more personal and revealing.

In his absence, Wyn finds she not only learns more about Mac but also about herself, as she becomes Tyler's mentor, passing on the wisdom and healing power of bread making. Her new self-awareness and resiliency will be tested when the Queen Street Bakery's existence is threatened, as well as when Mac returns and she must decide whether there is still a place for him in her life.

From critically acclaimed author Judith Ryan Hendricks comes the next chapter of the Queen Street Bakery, where questions are answered and old friends are revisited.

Discussion Questions

  1. The dictionary defines apprentice as one who learns by practical experience, a beginner, a learner. The word has as its root the Latin verb apprehendere, meaning to grasp or seize. How does this relate to the story and to whom does it apply?

  2. Maggie is both abrasive and pathetic. How does she affect the other women at the bakery? What makes her different from Tyler, who can also be abrasive and pathetic?

  3. Mac finds an escape in music. What do some of the other characters use to block unpleasant realities?

  4. Wyn takes a kind of perverse pride in being different from her mother. But do they share any traits? Are their any parallels in their lives?

  5. Wyn likes to believe that the crossed wires in her relationship with Mac are all due to his inability to communicate, but are there times when she is less than forthcoming about her thoughts or feelings? How has a disastrous first marriage shaped her attitudes and perceptions?

  6. As one thing after another goes wrong for Mac, he resurrects his old dream of escaping to Alaska. How would the story's outcome have been different if he'd gotten there?

  7. The people that he meets in Beaverton, Y.T., are an odd collection of souls who all seem to have secrets in their past. How do they impact his struggle to come to terms with his own history?

  8. In her senior class, Tyler would have been voted most likely to ... ?

  9. Wyn isn't particularly family oriented. What is it about Tyler that gets to her?

  10. Two themes of The Baker's Apprentice -- bread as a metaphor for life and reconciliation with the past -- were also dealt with in Bread Alone. Compare the ways that these themes (or others) play out in both books.

About the author

Judith Ryan Hendricks is the author of the novels Bread Alone and Isabel's Daughter. She lives in Sante Fe, New Mexico, and Salt Spring Island, British Columbia.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 18 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 18 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2014

    Very enjoyable

    I really enjoyed the deep characterization would love to live amongst these people. Not a 'heavy' book but quite a lovely read.

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  • Posted May 29, 2012

    Well Written

    Enjoyed the first book, "Bread Alone" and was delighted to find this sequel "The Baker's Apprentice", however this one needs a sequel as it leaves you hanging and wanting to know how their lives turned out. Also like seeing some of the recipes from the bakers. This is a very true to life story and could actually happen. Judith, plese finish the story.

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  • Posted April 16, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Good Book but disappointing Sequel to Bread Alone.

    Hendricks beautifully wrote Bread Alone using such a relatably honest voice in Wyn Morrison. My hope for the sequel book was for a thoroughly kneaded and proofed Wyn to rise up in a cathartic fashion and embrace her newly found self. Yet, the ending boomeranged me back to Wyn and David's courtship days in Bread Alone which resulted in her losing herself to her man's agenda. The pace of the story was slow yet sustaining. Then, there was a rush to the end; leaving me feeling confused about Wyn's growth. Was she backsliding? There needs to be another book.

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  • Posted October 7, 2010

    Highly Recommend for Cooks & Romantics Alike!

    This book came up as a suggested book on the b&n website after reading several other novels about chefs that included recipes. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and couldn't put it down. I read it cover to cover in less than a week! I will be in search of all of Judith Ryan Hendricks other books and hope she continues to keep writing! I can't recommend it highly enough!

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  • Posted September 8, 2009

    Great Read

    I read Judith Ryan Hendrick's "Laws of Harmony" and liked it so much I bought all her other books and this one is great. I got very involved in her character descriptions and story lines. If you liked any of the Friday Night Knitting Club books you will love all these by Hendricks.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 28, 2009

    very interesting and believable

    The characters were interesting and believable. The bakery setting was informative. A very enjoyable story. I hope she writes a third book with these characters. I feel like I know them and would like to know what's next in their lives.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 22, 2007

    loved it!!!!

    I live across the street from a church that has annual book sales and picked it up. Believe it or not i got the book for a dollar i had it my room for like 5 months untill i decided to read it and i was instantly hooked its such a good book i read it three times. I finished the entire book in a couple of hours. I never knew there was another book that came before this one. But if they say the first one was better than it must really be awesome. Im only 16 and thought this was the best book i had ever read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2007

    disappointed

    I read the first one bread alone and couldnt wait to read the sequel the bakers apprentice. I felt it left me hanging the story never finished .Please write another book so we know what happened to the characters in the story

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2007

    A real disapppointment

    The original, 'Bread Alone' was one of my favorite books. I read it two or three times, so I was excited to see that Judith Ryan Hendricks had written a sequel. After I read it, I was extremely disappointed. Instead of reading about how Wynter and Mac's relationship grows, we are given more insight into their intimate affairs.After such a long wait for a follow up, it was a big letdown.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 1, 2006

    Awesome love story

    This book is wonderful. It shows the love of another person and the love of your passion does not always work out the way you want. The author has the characters picking themselves up and building their lives. It is a great summer read.

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    Posted December 8, 2009

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