Bread Alone: A Novel

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Overview

Thirty-one-year-old Wynter Morrison is lost when her husband leaves her for another woman. Desperate for a change, she moves to Seattle, where she spends aimless hours at a local bakery sipping coffee and inhaling the sweet aromas of freshly-made bread. These visits bring back memories of the time she aprenticed at a French boulangerie, when her passion for bread-making nearly led her to leave college and become a baker.

Once again, the desire to bake bred consumes her thoughts....

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Bread Alone: A Novel

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Overview

Thirty-one-year-old Wynter Morrison is lost when her husband leaves her for another woman. Desperate for a change, she moves to Seattle, where she spends aimless hours at a local bakery sipping coffee and inhaling the sweet aromas of freshly-made bread. These visits bring back memories of the time she aprenticed at a French boulangerie, when her passion for bread-making nearly led her to leave college and become a baker.

Once again, the desire to bake bred consumes her thoughts. When offered a position at the bake shop, Wyn quickly accepts, hoping that the baking will help her move on. But soon Wyn discovers that the making of bread—the kneading of the dough—possesses an unexpected and wondrous healing power—one that will ultimately renew her heart and her soul.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
When in doubt, bake bread at least that is what Wyn Morrison does. She was once known as Wyn Franklin, but one day her husband informed her that they were growing apart and that he needed some time to himself. Having been a career wife who managed her busy ad executive husband's successful social life, Wyn is lost. To top it all off, her mother has found happiness with another man after being a widow for 15 years. Wyn still desperately misses her father and can't quite become accustomed to the idea that her mother is going to remarry. Breadmaking is her solace, and it leads quickly to a job in a bakery and a chance at a new life. In addition, Wyn meets Mac, a handsome bartender who could prove to be the man able to make her truly happy. Dotted with bread recipes, Hendricks's engaging first novel will appeal to fans of a good story and intriguing characters. Highly recommended for all public libraries. Robin Nesbitt, Columbus Metropolitan Lib., OH Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A dumped wife ponders where it all went wrong—and bakes a lot of bread in the process. Thirty-one-year-old Wynter Morrison had it all, including David, her tall, blond, handsome hubby who didn't even want her to work (not worthwhile tax-wise, says he). Well, Wynter is ready to give up teaching and play the rich-wife role to the hilt. After all, David's a marketing whiz and a slave to his high-powered job. But when he suddenly decides to leave the rat race—and her—Wynter just doesn't believe it. He means business, though, and it's not long before Wynter is on her way to Seattle to cry on the shoulder of her childhood friend, CM, a cynical beauty and man magnet. CM tells Wynter that she couldn't possibly have been happy "tooling around L.A. in your sports car and sitting through boring committee meetings and eating artistic little arrangements of sushi for lunch and giving dinners for people you loathe and spending shitloads of money on clothes that don't even look like you." Wynter is nonplussed, obviously never having thought much about it. Her biggest problem now is finding gainful employment. Perhaps the bread-baking skills she learned at her student job in France will come in handy? She's soon up to her elbows in organic flour from the Pike Place Market and mulling things over when the unpleasant reality of divorce begins: Her lawyer wants to know if Wynter's relationship with CM is, um, entirely platonic and hints that her soon-to-be-ex is likely to cause all sorts of trouble. Her mother insists that Wynter is suffering from clinical depression. But Wynter copes bravely, makes new friends, and finds true love: hunky Mac MacCleod, a vision in plaid flannel anddenim. She comes up with loads of swell recipes, too, tucked in here and there for carbohydrate-craving readers who won't find much meat in this all-too-familiar tale. An okay addition to the food-as-metaphor-for-life genre—if not an inspired debut.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781587241710
  • Publisher: Cengage Gale
  • Publication date: 3/28/2002
  • Series: Wheeler Large Print Book Series
  • Pages: 494
  • Product dimensions: 6.70 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.30 (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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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One



Los Angeles, 1988


The beeping smoke detector wakes me. No, wait. The smoke detector buzzes. When I sit up, the room is wavy, an image in a funhouse mirror. The alarm clock? I turn my head too quickly. It's the old Apache torture. Strips of wet rawhide, tied tight, left to dry.

I swing my legs over the edge of the bed, blink my swollen eyes. My mouth feels like the lint trap in the clothes dryer. I'm wearing a half-slip and the ivory silk blouse I had on last night. My watch has slid up, cutting a deep groove into my arm: 6:45 A.M. An empty bottle of Puligny Montrachet on the night table. I thought only cheap wine gave you a headache. What did I do with the glass?

I stand up, unsteady. Walk downstairs. Carefully. Holding the railing. Into the kitchen. The bread machine. How can such a small machine make such a big noise? The beeps are synchronized to the throbbing in my temples. I hit the button. The beeping stops and the lid swings open, releasing a cloud of scent. I wheel around and vomit into the sink. I turn on the water, rinse out my mouth, stand panting, gripping the cold edge of the slate countertop. Then I remember. David.

I lift out the still warm loaf, set it on the maple butcher block, a perfect brown cube of bread.

The employment agency is a busy office in a glass and steel building near LAX. The windows offer breathtaking views of Interstate 405, still bumper-to-bumper at ten-thirty. Applicants crowd the waiting areamostly women who appear to be ten years younger than me, probably all named Heather or Fawn or Tiffany. The place has a sense of purpose worthy of the war rooms you see inWorld War II movies. All that's missing is Winston Churchill. No one lingers by the water fountain to chat. Everyone's on the phone or tapping a keyboard or striding resolutely down the hall, eyes averted to avoid distractions. Like me.

The only exception is the young woman at the front desk. When she finishes filing that stubborn broken nail, she looks up with a smile. "Can I help you?"

I try for amused detachment from the whole process. "I have an appointment with Lauren at eleven o'clock. I know I'm early, but..."

"That's okay." She hands me a clipboard with several forms attached to it. "if you'll just fill these Out, we can go ahead and get started with your tests." She gives me a pencil and points to some chrome and leather chairs against one wall.

Tests? Oh shit. I sink down onto a chair, my head still twanging in spite of two aspirins and a double espresso. One thing at a time. Name: "Justine Wynter Franklin." Maybe I shouldn't use my married name. I try to erase Franklin" but the eraser is old and brittle and just makes smudges as it crumbles. I scratch a line through it, print "Morrison." Now it looks like I'm not sure.

Address. Telephone. I nail those two. Date of birth, Social Security number. Type of work desired. "Don't know" probably wouldn't look good. I put down "Office." Too vague? Skills. I stare at the blank space and it seems to grow larger, defying me to fill it.

Well, I can still recite François Villon's "Ballade des pendus." Or discuss the effects of the Industrial Revolution on the English novel. Let's see...I can make perfect rice with no water left in the bottom of the pot and every grain separate and distinct. I know how to perk up peppercorns and juniper berries that are beyond their shelf life, repair curdled crème anglaise. And if you want to tenderize meat using wine corks or get candle wax out of a tablecloth, I'm your woman. I can tell a genuine Hermès scarf from a Korean knockoff at fifty paces. I have a strong crosscourt backhand. A long time ago, I knew how to type, but even then my speed was nothing to brag about. Someone told me once that I had a nice telephone voice. "Give good phone?"

"Justine Franklin?"

Startled, I look up.

"Hi, I'm Lauren Randall." The woman standing in front of me showing me her perfect teeth is obviously very much at home in this world. Fortyish, handsome rather than pretty, wearing a beige raw-silk dress. Her blonde hair is pulled back from her face so tightly that it raises her eyebrows into an expression of surprise.

When I get up to shake her outstretched hand, the clipboard clatters to the floor. Face burning, I scoop it up, ignoring the stares, and follow her down the hall while she does her standard line of chat. "It's so nice to see somedone wearing a suit. You wouldn't believe some of the outfits I see. These young girls come in here looking like they're going to the beach instead of to work."

Now that we've eliminated me from that "young girl" category... She takes the clipboard from me and leads me into her Office, a cubbyhole with two chairs and a tiny desk covered with file folders. "Let's see what we've got. What kind of work are you looking for?"

"General office. Filing, answering the phone..."

There's a fifties movie that my mother loves, where Doris Day, as the bright young thing who sets out to conquer the big city, gets a job in the steno pool -- now there's a term to date you. And on her first day of work at a big, important ad agency, she -- demure in a pink shirtwaist with a white Peter Pan collar -- spills coffee all over this handsome young guy who works in the mail room. Coincidentally, his father owns the company. She's...

Bread Alone. Copyright © by Judith Hendricks. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Table of Contents

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Reading Group Guide

IntroductionThe painstaking process of mixing, kneading, and baking bread may not seem an apt pastime for a woman as acerbic and impulsive as Wynter Morrison. Since graduation from college she has bounced from job to job and man to man, finally ending up as a trophy wife in a posh Los Angeles suburb. She drives a nice car, eats at elegant restaurants, dresses in beautiful clothes, and rubs elbows with high society. But it soon becomes clear that she's been floating through this life. She's happier in jeans than in Chanel, likes walking in the rain more than sitting in traffic, and would rather tear into a hot loaf of sourdough than pick at a fancy salad. It takes a hurtful wakeup call from her husband to make Wynter aware that their life together is not working. It also takes more than a few self-destructive drinking binges, tantrums, and harsh words for Wyn to realize that the people who truly love her aren't always going to tell her what she wants to hear. Finally, it takes the pain, and then comfort, of solitude to show Wyn that she can be beautiful even in a flour-covered apron; that she can turn an empty shack into a home; that settling into an easy relationship can feel like a "mink padded cell"; that her father wasn't the prince she thought he was; that she and her mother are two different people; and that she can find peace and satisfaction in a job where she is needed and appreciated. Bread Alone is a novel every woman can savor and learn from. It's filled with recipes for happiness, as well as for delicious foods, and it's made even more irresistible by a secret ingredient: a headstrong, sharp-witted heroine who's as rewarding and real asa loaf of truly good bread. Discussion Questions
  1. Why do you think Wynter let her marriage to David devolve into a state in which the two were barely communicating with each other? Why didn't she try to improve the relationship earlier?
  2. Why does David's request that Wynter move out come as such a shock? Why does she try so hard to keep their relationship together?
  3. How did Wynter's revelation about her parents' marriage change her views toward her father and her mother? What effect might the knowledge of her father's affair have had on her decisions regarding her divorce settlement and on her relationships with Gary and Mac?
  4. Wynter bakes bread as a panacea for heartache and depression. Why do you think she finds this process so therapeutic? Do you have any rituals or hobbies you turn to when you are feeling blue? Why and how do they help you?
  5. During Wynter's apprenticeship in France she receives some advice from Jean-Marc, the bakery's owner: "You do not tell the bread what to do. It tells you. You know from the way it looks, the way it feels, the smell, the taste. How warm, how cold. How wet, how dry." How might Wynter apply this knowledge to her life?
  6. Wynter holds back from telling CM that her marriage to Neil is a mistake. Why do you think she doesn't say anything to CM? Do you think she would have been as perceptive about that relationship while she was still with David?
  7. Hendricks ends her novel with the promise of romance for Wynter. If the novel hadn't ended this way -- if, for instance, Wynter had found Mac in the cabin with another woman -- how do you think Wynter would cope? How would it change your feelings about the novel?
  8. How would you describe the process of baking bread as a metaphor for life?
About the Author: Judith Ryan Hendricks worked as a copywriter, journalist, computer instructor, travel agent, and waitress before landing at Seattle's McGraw Street Bakery, where she fell in love with the rhythm of baking. Hendricks now lives in Long Beach, California, with her husband, Geoff. Bread Alone is her first novel.

Reading and Eating Groups -- One of the author's favorite recipes is Ellen's Cornmeal Cookies.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 16 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 34 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 16, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Reminiscent of Eat, Pray, Love

    I loved this book about as much as I loved Eat Pray Love. Judith Hendricks' Wynter, pours her soul in these pages as she describes how she finds herself by losing so much. I think this book would make a better movie than Eat Pray Love simply because there are characters you would love to hate. Still, Hendricks shows how the process of self discovery can be so wonderfully cathartic.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2009

    A great surprise!

    I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. I was completely enchanted by the characters, the unusual setting and the writing style. Finished the book in days. The recipes were a great touch. Can't wait to read the next one.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 20, 2008

    Heart Warming

    This is such a heart warming book of a woman who start her life over after her husband abandons her for another. This book inspired me to be creative inspite of it all

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2005

    Great!

    I got this book at a library book sale, and I thought it would simply be an easy read. I was wrong! I ended up liking this book so much more than I thought I would. I loved how Hendricks avoids cliches, and the storyline was very believable. This made me want to bake bread, and I even made the scones that were in the book. I was sad when it came to an end that's how much I enjoyed reading it. Now I'm looking for some of her other books!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 5, 2005

    Very Enjoyable!

    I picked this book out on a whim, mostly because I love baking bread, and am so glad I did! The characters were well-developed, the plot interesting but not far-fetched, and overall, very enjoyable! I cannot wait to read the sequel to it!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 31, 2005

    A rising star among authors - and bread bakers

    I just finished Bread Alone and I, too was sorry to have it end. So, I will now begin Baker's Apprentice! I thought the storyline got better as the story grew. There was a wonderful thread through it that tied the characters together. I look forward to our next meeting! Like in Jan Karon's little town in N.C. I look forward to returning the Queen Street Bakery and the people that come there.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 7, 2005

    Outstanding Book

    This is a very easy book to 'get into'. Good story line - makes you feel like you're there...I have thoroughly enjoyed reading it..Hope she writes more..soon..

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 28, 2005

    A simple story beautifully told

    Something interesting happened after I finished this book. In my usual way, I lent it to a friend I thought would enjoy it. She did. And she lent it to another mutual friend. And HE enjoyed it -- enough that he lent it to another mutual male friend. I never did get the book back, which is a shame; Hendricks did some interesting maneuvers with form and style that bear a second reading. However, it is worth the loss of the book, knowing it's in the library of some 'extended friend' somewhere, after passing not just from girlfriend to girlfriend but in and out of the hands of SWAT team members! That on its own should reassure a future reader it's not just a 'chick' book -- yes, it's well plotted, well crafted, gently told -- but that it's engaging enough to hold the interest of a variety of readers.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 10, 2004

    Now I want to make bread!

    I absolutely loved this book. Usually, I plow right through novels, but this one took a few days. Several times throughout, I found myself wanting to make bread - which is something I haven't done since I was a little girl. I felt right at home, and I enjoyed the different writing style. This is a definite must-read!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 30, 2003

    You have to read this book!!

    This book has now become one of my favorites! I fell in love with the characters. It's one of those books you can't wait to finish to see what happens but you're sad when it ends because you feel like you've lost a friend. Read this book!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 3, 2003

    LOVED, LOVED, LOVED IT!!!

    I just finished this book and was truly sad that it came to an end! The characters are so real and the story has such a cozy, inviting feel to it. I would highly recommend it to anyone! I'm looking forward to reading more books from this author.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 23, 2003

    Wonderful Book!!

    I would highly recommend reading this book. It was a wonderful story about life and the challenges it throws us (especially women). I will begin reading other novels from this author.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2003

    I Loved It!!

    This is a dear, dear book. I totally lost myself in it and was sad when it was over. I think, at some time, we all have had the desire to 'leave it all and start over'. It was nice to be able to live it out through this story.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2003

    what a pleasant surprise!

    I found this book lying on a table of appointment books near check out at my local Barnes and Noble. Thinking the cover illustrtation looked interesting, I picked it up while waiting my turn. Don't know for sure why I felt compelled to buy it, but am glad I did. A good read. Great at bedtime or by the fire this time of year. The story wasn't particuarly remarkable. What made this book was the characters, description of life in Seattle. Real people! I was sorry to have the book end, I liked Wynter. Like the other reviewer, I may have to try the recipes! Looking forward to her next book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 28, 2002

    great story

    this is one of those books, like Judy Blume's Smart Women, that tells the story of what it is like for a woman to find herself alone again, becoming who she really is, then finding the love of her life. just a great read, plus the fact that I am a baker, and the comfort she finds in the bread recipes and the creating of them, is something that I can relate to, although I do not bake professionally and have not found that feeling of success yet. I did finally find it in my love life though !

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 17, 2002

    Wonderful Book

    I loved this book. It was a wonderful book filled with great characters who you can really relate to and love. Wyn was weak in the beginning of the book but really became a strong woman by the end. I could not put the book down once it started and did not want it to end when it was over.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2002

    Warm, cozy, and enjoyable!

    Bread Alone is a beautiful book; a wonderful first novel from Judi Hendricks from whom I hope to hear much more. You cannot imagine the warm and cozy feelings that simply radiate from the book while you¿re reading it. The book includes awesome recipes for breads, cookies, and muffins. I disliked the lead character, Wyn, from the beginning of the book (she wasn¿t a strong enough character for me). I did, however, really appreciate what she went through and the person she grew into by the end. You¿ll relate to the characters; there¿s a little bit of you or someone you know in each of them. You¿ll feel for Wyn while she goes through the pain of her husband¿s departure, the craziness of her mother¿s second marriage, and her new job as a baker of bread (with a co-worker who certainly doesn¿t want her there). You¿ll adore Mac, the resident music-loving, carefree bartender and you¿ll despise David when he decides he¿s ¿not sure what he wants anymore¿. This is a great read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2002

    Baked To Perfection

    The characters within this story are well-developed and completely believable. There is the aroma of fresh bread in the air while indulging in this book. I much anticipate the sequel. My stomach is not yet full!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2002

    Excellent book from an outstanding writer

    My bookclub chose for our March selection Bread Alone. I have to say, it was an awesome book. The book was about a women starting new. I loved the direction that the author chose for each character. This is a book that everyone can relate to. I thought it was inspiring also. I loved the fact that it was witty and intelligent. It made me giggle, it made me think. And the recipes, oh my it made me want to cook and that is something that never happens.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 24, 2002

    Pass the Butter

    The only problem with the book <i>Bread Alone</i> is that it didn't come cleverly packaged with sourdough starter. Despite this, it's a wonderful book. It was refreshing to read about a divorcee who was my age, not my mother's age, and I loved the recipes interspersed throughout the book. (In fact, I'm planning to experiment with them.) I read most of this book while on vacation, and the whole drive home, my inner monologue was urging me to bake, bake bake. Read this book. But chew on some hot bread and butter while you do.

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