How to Bake a Perfect Life: A Novel

( 86 )

Overview

In a novel as warm and embracing as a family kitchen, Barbara O’Neal explores the poignant, sometimes complex relationships between mothers and daughters—and the healing magic of homemade bread.

Professional baker Ramona Gallagher is a master of an art that has sustained her through the most turbulent times, including a baby at fifteen and an endless family feud. But now Ramona’s bakery threatens to crumble around her. Literally. She’s one water-heater disaster away from losing ...

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How to Bake a Perfect Life: A Novel

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Overview

In a novel as warm and embracing as a family kitchen, Barbara O’Neal explores the poignant, sometimes complex relationships between mothers and daughters—and the healing magic of homemade bread.

Professional baker Ramona Gallagher is a master of an art that has sustained her through the most turbulent times, including a baby at fifteen and an endless family feud. But now Ramona’s bakery threatens to crumble around her. Literally. She’s one water-heater disaster away from losing her grandmother’s rambling Victorian and everything she’s worked so hard to build.

When Ramona’s soldier son-in-law is wounded in Afghanistan, her daughter, Sophia, races overseas to be at his side, leaving Ramona as the only suitable guardian for Sophia’s thirteen-year-old stepdaughter, Katie. Heartbroken, Katie feels that she’s being dumped again—this time on the doorstep of a woman out of practice with mothering.

Ramona calls upon a special set of tools—patience, persistence, and the reliability of a good recipe—when rebellious Katie arrives. And as she relives her own history of difficult choices, Ramona shares her love of baking with the troubled girl. Slowly, Katie begins to find self-acceptance and a place to call home. And when a man from her past returns to offer a second chance at love, Ramona discovers that even the best recipe tastes better when you add time, care, and a few secret ingredients of your own.

“This book will have you smiling and crying and pining for an old love, or just a hunk of really good fresh-baked bread. I loved every single delicious bite.” —Jennie Shortridge, author of When She Flew

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781491586280
  • Publisher: Brilliance Audio
  • Publication date: 8/26/2014
  • Format: MP3 on CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged
  • Sales rank: 1,146,192
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 6.70 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Barbara O’Neal is the author of a number of highly acclaimed novels, including the Target Club Pick How to Bake a Perfect Life and The Lost Recipe for Happiness, which won the RITA in 2010, bringing her total number of RITA awards to six. She sold her first novel in her twenties, and has also published under the names Barbara Samuel and Ruth Wind, and her books have been sold in Italy, Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany, and Poland. Barbara loves olive oil, peaches, good ale, gardening, and all big dogs. She’s also a long distance walker who traveled a portion of the Camino de Santiago de Compostela in 2010, and hopes to return to walk the rest in the near future. A native of Colorado, she now lives on the skirts of Pikes Peak with her partner, a British endurance athlete, and four animals who convinced her they needed rescue.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 86 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(39)

4 Star

(28)

3 Star

(9)

2 Star

(4)

1 Star

(6)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 86 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 30, 2012

    Good read

    Enjoyed the story of three generations of women and the bread recipes mixed in. Going to bake this weekend :)

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 18, 2011

    Excellent light reading

    I was looking for something to lose myself in on a camping trip. Once I picked this up, I couldn't put it down. I absolutely love O'Neal's writing--she knows how to give her readers well developed characters and story lines that aren't too simple or too complex.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 21, 2011

    A GREAT accidental find!

    I stumbled across this book almost by accident and truly enjoyed reading it! I did not find it corny as another reviewer mentioned. Instead I found it to be well written, touching and inspiring. It is a fast read and I highly recommend O'Neal's work.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 29, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Fans will enjoy this terrific contemporary extended family drama

    In Colorado Springs, forty years old Ramona Gallagher loves her bakery, which brings her joy that very little else does in her life. Her other love is for her daughter Sofia who she had as a single teen.

    When Sofia's husband is injured in Afghanistan, he is sent to Germany for medical care. Sofia flies to Europe to be with him. However, before leaving Colorado, she asks her mother to watch her stepdaughter thirteen year old Katie as the teen's mother is in jail on a drug charge. That summer Ramona and Katie bond, which encourages the bakery owner to reconcile with her somewhat estranged family and to take a chance on love with a man she was seeing when they were teens.

    Although bonding between the "bread" generations has been done before, Barbara O'Neal bakes a fresh tale as in many ways it is the teen who teaches the adult what matters in life. Character driven mostly by Ramona but cleverly enhanced by Katie, fans will enjoy this terrific contemporary extended family drama, as the young "grandmother" discovers The Lost Recipe for Happiness.

    Harriet Klausner

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 10, 2013

    A great fun book - I'll be looking for a sequel. Since there wa

    A great fun book - I'll be looking for a sequel. Since there was no mention of birth control, maybe Ramona and Josh could surprise us. Supernatural Adelaide was a bit odd, but the only thing that REALLY could have made it better was building a high fence for Merlin. Every time he was out in the backyard, the same running away scenario could easily have happened.
    Kinda tense for dog lovers.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 23, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    I read this in one delicious gulp on a Sunday afternoon. It brou

    I read this in one delicious gulp on a Sunday afternoon. It brought me back to the days when I used to bake bread every Sunday. The novel also made me laugh and cry and ache and smile in satisfaction. A fabulous, fabulous book that portrays with emotional intensity the sometimes difficult and always complicated relationships between mothers and daughters. Love, love, loved it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 23, 2013

    this was the first of barbara o'neal's books that i read and i j

    this was the first of barbara o'neal's books that i read and i just have to say "thank you!"   this book was one i could not put down, with the perfect mixture of warmth,mystery and cozyness.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 11, 2012

    Need help

    Went to read sample then later purchased. So it says purchased but its only showibg me the sample. First time ever had a problem, so now what? Book was 11.99 and all im getting is 68 pages of sample not whole book.

    1 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 1, 2012

    Nasty

    This book is gross! Theres a page in it that is very descriptive about having it (if you know what I mean)! Its VERY detailed after reading that I felt SO sick! Im now 13, I was 12 at the time and I still have images and nightmares about it! Ugh! Nasty

    1 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 13, 2012

    Sucks.

    Its so boring,,,

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 16, 2011

    I loved this book!!!!

    Written in a journal and narrative fashion that allows you to know the characters. It also has some wonderful bread recipes that I am going to try.

    I am going to buy more from this author.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 1, 2011

    this book was great!

    I loved the way this book was written! It is a tale of 3 women who are all in different, yet challenging times of their lives. Ramona, the bakery owner in her 40's, Sophie, her daughter who is pregnant with an injured soldier for a husband, and Katie, Sophie's step daughter who is dealing with a meth-addicted (biological) mother and the challenges of being a teenager with no real place to 'be'. This is a great read, I loved it and recommend it to anyone looking for a 'chic' book that is a little heavier than the usual 'chic-lit!' Thanks, Barbara O'Neal for a great read!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 10, 2011

    Lovely!

    In How to Bake a Perfect Life a cobbled together family of women struggle to find success and happiness and to understand each other. The book centers around Ramona, a 40 year old woman trying to keep her beloved bakery open. Circling the story of Ramona are those of Sophia, her pregnant daughter, and Katie, Sophia's neglected stepdaughter, in addition to Ramona's mother, grandmother, and aunt. Each woman has to fight her own set of demons and all are strong in their own, unique ways. Woven throughout the book is enough fabulous baking to make anyone hungry, a loyal dog, and a little romance.

    I have loved Babara O'Neal's other books and this one does not disappoint. As with her others, Barbara hits just the right spot between fairy tale, happy-ever-after, and the harsh reality of circumstances. It is believable enough to really fall in love with the characters with a satisfying ending. The moment I picked up How to Bake a Perfect Life I was completely immersed in the bakery and it was a struggle to leave that world whenever I had to put the book down.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 4, 2014

    This book touched all emotions

    I was so sad to have finished reading this book. I could have enjoyed it going on longer. So well done and again it will be added to my must read shelf that I like to offer to anyone looking for a good book to read.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 23, 2014

    Highly Recommended--Don't Miss This One

    This is about a large and complicated family, most of which lives in Colorado. The main character is Ramona, who runs a bakery, with a lot of help from several friends. Her daughter is pregnant, and goes to an Army hospital after her soldier husband comes home injured--missing his right leg, etc. The niece is sent to spend time with Ramona. Her real mother is a loser who is in rehab for the umpteenth time. There are problems that Ramona has to face, but she has reunited with Jonah, an old friend, so that makes it better. A book club might want to consider this one.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 22, 2014

    Loved it

    Great read from cover to cover

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 21, 2014

    Very thoughtful story examining female family relationships

    I thourought enjoyed reading this book. The underlying themes of women relating with each other through different relationships hit home. I'll be gifting this to 4 generations of women in my family this Mother's Day.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2014

    Loved it!

    A great read.....didn't want the story to end. A love story. A story about relationships- mother to daughter, wife to husband, child to adult. I loved all the characters. Could not put it down!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 5, 2014

    Oneal

    Loved this book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 23, 2013

    Mya B.

    Just saw a review about this book... i am sorry about the discriptionof that......the..... " u know what i mean " part. Im 12 to so.....tha ks for that tip!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 86 Customer Reviews

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