Market Streetby Anita Hughes
From Anita Hughes, author of Monarch Beach, comes Market Street, a delicious story of a department store heiress, her messy marriage, and her passion for food
Cassie Blake seems to lead a charmed life as the heiress to Fenton's, San Francisco's most exclusive department store. But when she discovers her husband, Aidan, a handsome UC Berkeley/p>/i>/i>
From Anita Hughes, author of Monarch Beach, comes Market Street, a delicious story of a department store heiress, her messy marriage, and her passion for food
Cassie Blake seems to lead a charmed life as the heiress to Fenton's, San Francisco's most exclusive department store. But when she discovers her husband, Aidan, a handsome UC Berkeley professor, has had an affair with a student, she flees to the comfort of her best friend Alexis's Presidio Heights mansion, where she wonders if she should give their marriage one more chance.
Whether or not she can forgive Aidan is not the only choice Cassie has to make. Cassie's mother is eager to have her oversee the opening of Fenton's new Food Emporium, which Fenton's hopes will become San Francisco's hottest gourmet shopping destination. Cassie's true passion has always been food, not fashion, and Cassie suspects her mother might be trying to lure her into the Fenton's fold by entrusting her with such an exciting opportunity. And then there is James, the architect designing the Emporium, who is quietly falling in love with her…
“Market Street reads like a love letter to San Francisco, making this devoted Southerner contemplate a move to the city by the Bay. Glitz, glamour, and mouth-watering descriptions of couture and cuisine don't distract from the heart of the book--a tale of women, relationships, and the search for love, purpose and meaning in life and marriage. If Candace Bushnell had a west coast counterpart, Anita Hughes would be it!” Karen White, New York Times bestselling author of The Beach Trees
“Market Street is the captivating story of high end glamour meeting reality, couture fashion meeting organic fruits and vegetables, and a reluctant heiress meeting her own dream and running with it. Cassie Blake is the heiress of a department store who has been so busy trying to please everyone else, she has never found her own life. I loved how she yanked herself back up after a blow and finally created the life she wanted to live and by the end, you're cheering for her. Loved it. Read it in one sitting, coffee and chocolate in hand. Market Street is hard to resist.” Cathy Lamb, author of A Different Kind of Normal
“Witty and tremendously fun, Market Street kept me hooked until the very end!” Jane Porter, author of The Good Woman
“Filled with unexpected twists and deft observation, Market Street is both an indulgent peek into the world of San Francisco's moneyed elite and a tender exploration of female friendship through triumph and betrayal. A delicious, page-turning, satisfying read.” Beatriz Williams, bestselling author of Overseas
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By Anita Hughes
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2013 Anita Hughes
All rights reserved.
Cassie tore the edge off her croissant and looked out the Fenton's department store's floor-to-ceiling windows at the street below. Christmas was over, the post-Christmas sales were limping to a close, and men and women walked with their coats wrapped around them. The giant tree in Union Square had been carted away. The dazzling window displays in Gucci and Chanel of Cinderella slippers studded with real diamonds to wear to holiday parties and little black dresses accessorized with stacks of multi-colored bracelets had been replaced with sensible January displays: rain boots, umbrellas, and floor-length winter coats. Even Burberry's window looked bleak. The sweet reindeer wearing a plaid sweater and socks had been exchanged for a faceless mannequin wrapped in scarves like a mummy.
"People in San Francisco don't know how to do winter," Cassie said, dipping her croissant into a white Limoges coffee cup. "They think California in January should be blue skies and seventy degrees."
"We could go to Mexico till March. Stay at Betsy's condo and sip sangria through pink plastic straws." Alexis picked a petit four from the silver tray on the table and bit into it tentatively. She blotted her lips on the white linen napkin and stirred cream into her demitasse.
"Some people have jobs," Cassie replied, "or at least their husbands work. You don't just jet off to Mexico because the Christmas ornaments are gone."
"Carter would never miss me. He's too busy trimming trees, or whatever he does from six in the morning till midnight. We haven't eaten dinner together since Thanksgiving, and that was only because his mother insisted we join the family in Pacific Heights. You know old Betsy's on her second husband since Carter and I got married. I don't know how she keeps the place cards straight." Alexis tapped her long French-manicured nails on the edge of the coffee cup.
"Your husband runs a hedge fund; he doesn't trim trees." Cassie collapsed in a fit of giggles. She dusted croissant flakes from her pants and glanced around to see if the society matrons sitting at the adjoining tables were listening.
"Trees, hedges, it's all the same to Carter. Money is the only kind of paper he knows. He does compensate well. I got some lovely baubles for Christmas." Alexis rolled her eyes.
"You don't have to pretend with me. We've known each other since kindergarten and even then you made rings out of Cheerios. Be happy Carter buys you jewelry."
"He does have great taste. He gave me the most beautiful sapphire necklace, with tiny diamonds like snowflakes. I just sometimes feel like a courtesan instead of a wife. Fling a necklace or a bracelet at me and bring me out to impress the midwestern clients who want to invest in pork futures," Alexis replied, twisting her diamond wedding band around her finger.
"Carter loves you, it's just his way of showing it. Most wives would be envious," Cassie replied.
"I take it Aidan didn't shower you with jewels?" Alexis raised her perfectly arched eyebrows.
"Fuzzy socks, a cashmere scarf, gardening gloves, and packets of exotic vegetable seeds: fennel, purple spinach, and okra." Cassie counted presents on her fingers.
Alexis picked up another petit four, eyed the layered chocolate, and put it back on the plate. "I've exceeded my caloric limit for the day. Lettuce and soy sauce for dinner tonight."
"You're the only person I know who loses weight over the holidays. I gained three pounds smelling the pumpkin pie." Cassie pushed the plate of mini desserts toward Alexis.
"Only because I swam forty laps before every holiday party and spent thirty minutes in the steam room each night," Alexis said, adjusting her skirt. She wore an emerald green miniskirt and a white angora wool sweater. Her blond hair was scooped into a high ponytail and tied with a green velvet ribbon.
"Oh, to have your own indoor swimming pool and sauna." Cassie finished her coffee and put her napkin on the table.
"You could have all that. As I recall you did have all that. You're the one who married the Communist professor."
"Aidan is not a Communist. He's a professor of ethics, which means he doesn't believe in excess. We live well, just not in a three-story mansion in Presidio Heights with an elevator."
"If you'd gone to UCLA with me instead of Berkeley we would have found you a nice movie star to marry. I remember the day you packed your car and headed over the Bay Bridge. I thought, why is Cassandra Fenton, heiress to San Francisco's oldest, most exclusive department store, going to school in Bezerkely? I was right, you know." Alexis eyed her friend objectively. "Your Tod's are as old as my college diploma and your Michael Kors jacket is vintage. Except it's only had one owner: you."
"I've never had your flair. You could shop at Target and come out dressed for dinner at Chez Panisse. I've always been happier wearing gardening gloves than opera gloves. I am happy, Alexis, and so are you." Cassie played with the cuff of her shirt, twisting off a few stray threads.
"What would we talk about if we didn't complain about our husbands?" Alexis shrugged, sifting through her purse for a tube of lip gloss.
"The homeless on Market Street, the lack of fresh water in Africa?" Cassie suggested.
"We could always talk about shoes." Alexis stood up and pulled her skirt over her thighs. "Let's stop downstairs and see if there are any Jimmy Choos left on the sale rack."
Cassie followed Alexis to the escalator and surveyed the elegant floor displays as they descended to the third floor. The fourth level had always been her favorite; her mother used to treat her to high tea in the café on weekdays after school. Cassie thought every third-grader practiced their cursive on a linen tablecloth while sipping hot chocolate served by uniformed waitresses. Her mother would leave her in the café while she prowled the other departments, making sure cashmere sweaters were stacked in neat piles and salesgirls holding bottles of Chanel No. 5 were positioned in the aisles.
"Cassie, how nice to see you." A tall man wearing a navy suit took Cassie's hand as the escalator deposited them on the third floor. "You just missed your mother. She had to rush off to a restaurant opening. Emerald on Post Street. The Chronicle says it's going to be the next dining destination in the city."
"My mother's always rushing around." Cassie smiled. "I saw her on the way up. Do you remember my friend Alexis?"
The man put on rimless glasses and looked closely at the two women. "Of course. The last time I saw you, you were being trailed by half a dozen bridesmaids collecting cosmetics samples."
"I'm an old married woman now" — Alexis grinned — "with spending power."
"In that case, let me direct you to our newest jewelry line. I'm told all the thirtysomethings are wearing it." The man extended his arm and navigated Alexis through the aisles full of shoppers to a large glass case at the front of the store.
Cassie and Alexis gazed in the glass like small children admiring Halloween candy. Rows of pendants, bracelets, and rings were displayed on a bed of crushed orange velvet. Cassie ignored the bracelets — they would be covered with potting soil within a day — but the pendants caught her attention: bright-colored stones on short filigree chains. She put her hand to her neck as if imagining she was wearing one.
"These are right up your alley." Alexis tapped her nail on the glass. "That one would go so well with your eyes, Cassie. Try it on."
"Okay, just for fun." Cassie nodded. "Derek, could I see that one?"
Derek unlocked the case with an oversized gold key and placed the pendant in Cassie's hand. "Your mother found these on a buying trip to Buenos Aires. They are the accessory on the polo fields this season."
Alexis watched Cassie click the pendant around her neck. The stone was a turquoise amethyst and made Cassie's eyes look like a powder blue sky.
"Take it home," Alexis insisted. "Tell Aidan you did your own post-Christmas shopping so he wouldn't feel guilty for getting you fuzzy socks."
"He didn't only get me fuzzy socks. But it is really pretty." Cassie leaned closer to the mirror.
"He can't complain about excess since it's not a diamond or a ruby. And you'd be supporting the Latin American economy. He'll be pleased." Alexis took a few bracelets out of the case and slipped them on her wrist.
"I don't need it," Cassie said uncertainly. She wasn't very interested in clothes and usually pulled whatever was clean and pressed out of her closet, but she loved colorful jewelry. When she was a teenager her mother brought home bags of necklaces, earrings, and broaches, and Cassie was allowed to pick what she wanted. She still kept them in heart-shaped jewelry boxes and would snap in a hair clip or put on dangly earrings when she drove into the city for lunch.
"Would you two girls mind watching the display for a moment? I just saw Mrs. Benson go up the escalator. She's one of our best customers but she's almost deaf and she tends to scare the salespeople." Derek put the gold key on the glass.
"We'll do anything if you call us girls." Alexis smiled, putting the bracelets back in the case and scooping up a selection of colored rings.
"I can't believe you're flirting with Derek. He's almost a hundred. He used to hold my hand when my mother sent me to sit on Santa Claus's lap. I thought Santa had spiders under his beard and I'm terrified of spiders." Cassie unsnapped the pendant and laid it on the crushed velvet.
"Excuse me, I need to make a return." A girl approached the counter clutching a plain brown shopping bag. She had short blond hair cut in feathery layers around her face and big brown eyes like the dolls Cassie collected when she was a child. She wore a T-shirt emblazoned with Chinese letters and an army green bomber jacket.
"We don't work here." Alexis shook her head, stepping back from the counter.
"The store manager just went upstairs. I can try to find another salesperson for you; they're all busy taking returns. Post-Christmas hazard." Cassie smiled, seeing the girl's face fall. She clutched her shopping bag tighter. Her nails were painted neon pink and she wore a macramé bracelet.
"Crap. My roommate gave me a ride. She's double-parked outside, probably going to get a ticket. The meter maids were circling like vultures around a carcass. I don't know when I'll make it down here again. I never shop in Union Square, let alone Fenton's." The girl drawled the name of the department store as if it was a foreign language.
"We don't work here, but Cassie owns the place. I bet she can process a return for you." Alexis nodded at Cassie.
"My mother owns it." Cassie blushed. She felt like people had been saying that since she was seven years old, when her mother would dress her up in a Chanel suit and black patent-leather Mary Janes and guide her through the departments introducing her to her best customers.
"Please, my roommate will kill me if she gets a ticket. It's her mother's car and she doesn't even know we borrowed it." The girl opened the bag and took out a red satin box imprinted with the trademark Fenton signature.
"Oh, one of these lovely pendants." Alexis picked up the box. "Why would you want to return it? These are going to be a must-have."
"To be honest I could use the money. It was a present and I figured anything in a Fenton's box must be pricey. No offense." The girl looked at Cassie and clapped her hand over her mouth. "It's really nice but I'm a student. I could use a bit of cash."
"Do you have a receipt?" Cassie asked awkwardly. She pulled her long bangs over her ears the way she did when she was nervous. She had tried manning different counters in the afternoons during high school — cosmetics, handbags, Godiva chocolates — but she had never felt comfortable taking other people's money. "You're giving them a bit of their dreams," her mother would coach her, but Cassie always felt the dreams came with a high price tag. She wondered how women could justify paying so much for elaborate gold boxes containing four pieces of chocolate.
"It was a present," the girl repeated, "but maybe you have the credit card on file. The name was Blake, Aidan Blake." The girl kept glancing around, as if one of the uniformed meter maids was going to appear and arrest her for double parking.
"Excuse me," Cassie said.
"Aidan Blake, Professor Aidan Blake actually, but I doubt it says that on the credit card. I guess physicians put 'Doctor' in front of their names but it would seem a bit silly for a professor to, wouldn't it?" The girl looked from Cassie to Alexis as if she was very interested in their opinion.
"Where did you get this?" Cassie held the box at arm's length as if it was a stick of dynamite.
"I told you it was a present. Do you think I stole it or something?" The girl stepped back from the counter. "I may not look like a Fenton's customer but I'm not a thief. It was a Christmas present, from a friend," she finished, her round cheeks turning a light shade of pink.
"How do you know this friend?" Alexis demanded, glancing at Cassie, whose face had turned white.
"We don't give cash refunds, only store credit," Cassie said automatically. She gripped the side of the display case, pressing her knuckles against the glass. Every nerve in her body tingled, as if someone set off a fire alarm only she could hear.
"You two treat customers pretty funny." The girl frowned. "I thought Fenton's was all about customer service. I've seen the ads online: 'Don't just walk the red carpet; take it home with you. At Fenton's every customer is a star.' Hardly." The girl pushed the box into the shopping bag. "Store credit isn't going to do much. What am I going to buy? A two-hundred-dollar pair of seamless stockings? A Marc Jacobs hairbrush? I'll probably never come to Union Square again; I'm obviously not welcome."
"Wait." Cassie exhaled, feeling as though something heavy was sitting on her chest. "I'll give you cash. Here, give me the box."
"Okay." The girl stopped, eyeing Cassie suspiciously. "I want a full refund. I bet it was expensive."
Cassie opened the cash register and extracted three fifty-dollar bills. "Take these." She slid them over the counter.
The girl's eyes opened wide. She picked up the bills and crinkled the edges with her fingers. "I don't think it was that much. I mean, shouldn't you look up the credit card or look at the price tags on the other necklaces?"
"Take the money and leave." Alexis walked to the front of the case. She was almost six feet in her four-inch Prada heels and her body was muscled and lean from hours in the pool and on her bicycle. She stood so close to the girl she could see the brown roots at the top of her head.
"I'm leaving." The girl stuffed the money in her jeans pocket and moved away from Alexis. "You're lucky I don't go on Yelp or something. But thanks for the refund, I hope it doesn't all go to the meter maid."
Alexis walked back to Cassie and put her hand on her shoulder. "Breathe," she said quietly.
"I can't." Cassie's voice was like a robot. "I need some fresh air."
"You're not following her." Alexis grabbed Cassie's sleeve. "We need to sit down in private. Let's go to your mother's office."
Cassie followed Alexis to the private elevator in the back of the store, clutching the red Fenton's box that held the pendant. She felt as though her knees would buckle at any moment and she'd crumple to the floor like an anorexic Victoria's Secret model. She closed her eyes as the elevator doors shut, wishing everything would stay black and the elevator would just keep going up and up and up.
"Cassie" — Alexis poked her with one long fingernail — "get a grip. It can't be that bad. You've been married for almost ten years. There has to be an explanation."
"Maybe Aidan gave each student jewelry, instead of grades. Maybe he gave his whole lecture class gifts: polo shirts for the boys and necklaces and earrings for the girls. That would be so like him, don't you think? That sounds just like my husband who believes material things have no relationship to one's happiness, and makes me do his birthday shopping. If it wasn't for me, he'd still buy Isabel a My Little Ponies every year, even though she's sixteen and lives with us half the time." Cassie was almost shouting.
Excerpted from Market Street by Anita Hughes. Copyright © 2013 Anita Hughes. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Meet the Author
ANITA HUGHES is also the author of Monarch Beach. She attended UC Berkeley's Masters in Creative Writing Program, and has taught Creative Writing at The Branson School in Ross, California. Hughes lives in Dana Point, California, where she is at work on her next novel.
ANITA HUGHES is the author of Lake Como, Market Street, and Monarch Beach. She attended UC Berkeley’s Masters in Creative Writing Program, and has taught Creative Writing at The Branson School in Ross, California. Hughes lives in Dana Point, California, where she is at work on her next novel.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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Cassie Blake was the Heiress to Fenton's, an upscale exclusive department store in San Francisco. She traded in her heiress crown for a pair of gardening gloves after she married her former Ethics professor, Aidan Blake. For ten years Cassie believed her life and marriage were perfect, but that all changed when she meets one of Aidan's students. After finding out Aidan had an affair, Cassie takes off to stay with her best friend, Alexis. While trying to figure out what to do about her marriage, her mother offers her a dream job. She wants Cassie to run a new Food Emporium, food/gardening is near and dear to Cassie. Seems like the perfect way to be a part of Fenton's. Cassie's life has completely changed and she is no longer sure what to do and things are about to get even more complicated. This is one of those great books when you put it down you can't believe how much you've read! Anita Hughes does an amazing job with describing the foods, clothing--everything. I also really enjoyed getting to know all the different characters in Market Street. I really just loved Cassie and Alexis, they were such great friends and really looked out for each other. I loved seeing them come into their own. The only person I really didn't care for was Aidan. It wasn't just because he cheated--he seemed to treat Cassie like he loved her, but not really an equal (I would venture to guess that was how he was suppose to come across!). I would have to call this a fun, delicious novel with a side sexy (it does get a little hot!) I am recommending Market Street!
First read by this author. Enjoyed the book.
Market Street is the second novel by Anita Hughes. I enjoyed her debut novel Monarch Beach tremendously and was anxious to see if her 2nd novel would be as good as her first. I was so pleased to see that it was even better! Hughes has a way of using description to feed the imagination and put you right there with the characters. The way she describes Fenton’s Department Store, I could not only picture everything, but that it brought back memories from my childhood , and back to school shopping with my mom at the downtown Indianapolis LS Ayres store, which sadly no longer exists. Hughes does an exceptional job of keeping her characters believable and likeable. Even though Cassie, the main character, has family money, she strives to live a very simple life with her professor husband. When her world starts to fall apart she moves in with her best friend, Alexis, who seems to have the best of everything money can buy, but you can sense her unhappiness immediately. Market Street takes you on a journey with the characters as they learn about themselves and what does make them happy and that they can overcome disappointments and challenges in their life. I enjoyed this book and Anita Hughes is now on my auto-buy author list. Can’t wait for her next book Lake Como, it will be out very soon!
This is the second book by Anita Hughes I have read and I loved it. Her writing style is easy and smooth. I loved the concept for the book and some others have commented on the fashion in the book but I have to say I have learned alot about clothes and didn't mind at all. One of the things I loved about Ms. Hughes' two books is the women have amazing best friends that are there for them. So hard to find in today's world. It is refreshing. I am looking forward to the next book by Ms.Hughes, Lake Como and will buy it the day it comes out.
Anita Hughes has a delicious treat in her next novel Market Street. She weaves a tale of true desires and betrayal. Synopsis: Cassie is the heiress of the famous department store in San Francisco Fentons. Her husband Aidan is a professor at UC-Berkley in the Economics department. One day while in Fenton’s she makes a discovery about her husband. An event that sends her to her best friend Alexis’s home to recover. There Cassie is asked to confront her future with her husband? Career? And life? How will her experiences help her choose her path? My Thoughts: The second novel is even better than the first. Ms. Hughes novel reminds me of the author Judith Krantz and her style of writing. The plot is a journey for the main character Cassie. I loved the question that was asked by different characters in the novel. “What is your passion?” What do you like to do? Is this not a question that we all ask and wonder what the answer is for us? The main character has a wealthy background. Does it make the story more interesting? For me it gives me a place and a character that is a little out of my norm. Also a way to dream of what might be one day. Only thing I didn’t love is this is the second novel where divorce has become part of theme of the story. It was not the main focus. I definitely look forward to future novels by this author.
Page turning escapism! MARKET STREET has it all: likable characters, steamy sex, and a glimpse into high society life in San Francisco. Add in mouthwatering descriptions of gourmet food and more designer fashion than a girl could dream of…and why would you put this novel down to return to real life? I am not a foodie, and yet halfway through, I was craving organic, heirloom tomatoes and homemade soup. The themes of self-discovery in the midst of betrayal and the importance of female friendships drew me in immediately, and I loved the single working mother / daughter dynamic. The writing is warm and cozy, and the female characters are wonderful. My favorite part was the friendship between Cassie and her BFF, Alexis. I loved that Alexis opened up her home to Cassie without once dishing out harsh marriage advice. Can't wait for novel three!
Cassie Blake thought she had it all. Perfect life, perfect husband, volunteering at Edible Schoolyard and being the heir to San Francisco's upscale department store, Fenton's. Her world suddenly comes crashing down around her when she finds out her husband, Aiden, had an affair. How does she pick up the pieces? She moves in with her best friend Alexis while she sorts out her life and plans for the future. Is her love for Aiden strong enough to forgive him for what he has done? Can she ever trust him again? She dives into the project at Fenton's new food emporium when she meets James, the architect. They spend a lot of time working together and getting to know each other. He has a fiance, but everything isn't as perfect in his world either. This is the second book by Anita Hughes and I loved it as much as her first, Monarch Beach. It is very well written and gives lots of visuals of the story to where you feel you are part of it. I can't wait to read her next book Lake Como.