As the crust of a sourdough boule protects the tenderness within, so it is with artisanal baker Esme Stack, who privately nurses a grieving heart while wittily coping with crises involving her dour father-in-law, Henry; the specter of her beloved, recently deceased Granny Mac; and an evil goat. Esme, her husband, Pog, and their four-year-old, Rory, have left their glam London life and moved to the Suffolk countryside after a tragedy so terrible it is long unnamed. Bread provides much subject matter and metaphor, especially with the reappearance of Esme's first lover, a sexy French artisanal baker. Lynch lets the dough of her story rise slowly, allowing the dread to build even amid the gossipy fun. Nestling a tragedy inside a comedy is a brave feat, and New Zealander Lynch (Blessed Are the Cheesemakers) almost pulls it off. Alas, the plot resolution centers on improbable actions by Charlie Edmonds, Esme's gay male best friend, and Ridgely Watson, the son of Esme's female best friend, who exists offstage until he appears to commit a final, dramatic and deeply unwise act. Lynch then resolves the story in a crescendo of moralizing, weeping and redemption. Like one of the breads Esme bakes, the story stays in the oven a little too long-it's not perfect, but it's still good. (Oct.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Esme, a magazine editor turned mom, hasn't baked a loaf of her famous sourdough bread since falling into a deep depression a month ago. Her husband and young son worry but do not realize that the daily bread-making ritual stems from the passionate first love of a baker in France many years ago. The day that Esme decides to snap out of it, the long-lost baker suddenly shows up in London to rekindle the romance. Will she choose him and escape the pain that haunts her at home? Too many secondary characters and dangling plot lines make it difficult to focus on the main characters and story. The sad events of the recent past are not revealed until the end but are constantly referred to throughout, so that readers wonder if they missed a chapter early on. When the details are finally revealed, there is not enough time left to care. For larger fiction collections or where Lynch's first novel (Blessed Are the Cheesemakers) was well received. Rebecca Vnuk, Elmhurst P.L., IL Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.