Friendship Cake (Hope Springs Series #1)

Friendship Cake (Hope Springs Series #1)

by Lynne Hinton


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062517319
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 11/03/2009
Series: Hope Springs Series , #1
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 668,567
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.80(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

A retreat leader and writing teacher, Lynne Hinton is the author of numerous novels including Pie Town, Wedding Cake, Christmas Cake, Friendship Cake, Hope Springs, and Forever Friends. She also writes a mystery series under the name Jackie Lynn. She lives in New Mexico.

Read an Excerpt

Friendship CakeChapter One

The Cookbook Committee of the Hope Springs

Community Church is currently receiving

recipes for their upcoming Women's Guild Cookbook.

Anyone with recipes please contact one of the

following women: Margaret Peele, Louise Fisher,

Beatrice Newgarden, or Jessie Jenkins.

I here. That was short, to the point, and easy to type.Surely, Rev. Stewart wouldn't have a problem printing that in the bulletin. one could never be sure. She likes her announcements worded a certain way. At least four people I know of, personally, have seen their flower memorials and their thank-you notes shortened or added to by this woman pastor who thinks she has a flair for words.

Truth be told, no one really complains about what she does with the announcements, it just seems like a lot of work for a girl who appears not to have any extra time. After all, no one really cares if the flowers are "lovingly placed in memory" or simply "put at the altar." They just want to make sure their mama's name is spelled right and that each of the seven children is listed in correct birth order. Names and dates. That's what matters.

Sometimes I'm not sure the young pastor has a good hold on what really matters; but she tries hard and most of the people are warm to her, so I don't plan to rock her boat by saying such a thing to her. Besides, she's young, she'll learn. We all do.

This cookbook was not my idea. Since the Women's Guild is dying out, we're running out of money. It was Peggy Du Vaughn's notion that we needed to raise some money. And then I think it wasBeatrice Newgarden, who has nothing better to do than volunteer at the funeral parlor, who agreed we should have a project. Great, I think, a project. Another project. And before I have a chance to write it down in my secretary's notes, it's a cookbook, and I'm in charge.

As far as cooking goes, I'm considered only fair by the women in this community. out here, everybody grows their own vegetables, has their own livestock, kills, milks, and cans. So every recipe begins with something like "Strip all the feathers from the bird" or "Make sure the roots and stems are cut." The standards are a little higher than say, Greensboro, where I took my sweet potato casserole to a women's meeting; and having set it down next to all the KFC boxes and the Winn-Dixie potato salad, was treated like I was Cordelia Kelly from Channel 2's cooking show.

Here, in the county, women grew up learning to cook before they were tall enough to reach the stove. It was the mother's and the grandmother's responsibility to make sure all the girls in the family could make a meal out of one strip of meat and a cup of beans. So we learned to cook. And we learned to be creative. We learned how to stretch dough across two weeks at three squares a day. We learned how to make soup from bones and old potatoes. And we learned to knead our sorrows and our dreams into loaves of bread and our worthiness into cherry pies and fatty pork chops.

When my mama died and I was ten, I lost interest in what the female gender does in the kitchen. My older sisters cooked and cleaned while I worked in the fields, on the tractor, and behind the woodshed. I did anything that kept me from standing in my mama's prints that were worn into the boards in front of the sink or cast in iron in the handles of skillets. Those days folks didn't know what to do with a grieving child, so they just let me do the work of men and left me to myself.

My daddy was solemn, not much with words or girt children. But because I looked the most like my mother and because I stayed as close to him as the film of dirt that crept from the fields into wrinkles and under nails, he paid me the most attention. I pretended for a very long time that my sisters and brothers didn't notice, but after he died I sensed the resentment and the stones of sibling rivalry as they pelted me with their grief-stricken stares.

I was, after all, the only one he would let shave him or feed him teaspoonsful of honey. His last five years he lived with each daughter and son, but everyone knew that he was saving my house for last. Like getting ready for retirement, Daddy mapped out his final six months with great care. When he left Woodrow's to enter the hospital for the eighth time, he sent his belongings to me, and, leaving the cancer unit, Daddy came home to 516 Hawthorne Lane to die.

Surely he knew that I was the only one who would pick him up and set him behind the wheel of the tractor, wait until the vomiting stopped, and then steer him across the pasture while he worked the pedals. I was the only one who would pad down the dirt and make a hard path so that I could push his wheelchair through the soybean field. I was the only child of his who would not mind hearing his stories over and over, help him reorder his memories, or who would sit with him through thunderstorms...

Friendship Cake. Copyright (c) by Lynne Hinton . Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.\

Table of Contents


What People are Saying About This

Rita Mae Brown

Friendship Cake will give you plenty to chew over. Delicious!
— (Rita Mae Brown, author of Rubyfruit Jungle and Outfoxed)

William McKinney

Friendship Cake could only have been written by someone who knows firsthand that anything can and does happen when faithful, flawed, quirky people gather together in religious congregations. Hope Springs Community Church may be the product of Lynne Hinton's imagination but it can be found on thousands of street corners and village greens across North America. I look forward to the sequel!
— William McKinney - President and Professor of American Religion at Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California and co-author of American Mainline Religion Studying Congregations)

Reading Group Guide

Plot Summary
Good humor, tender moments, and life lessons abound in this heartwarming portrait of small-town Southern life that is anything but simple and quiet. Five churchgoing women from Hope Springs, North Carolina, animate this humorous, poignant tale of coming to terms with one's weaknesses, honoring the fragility of life, loving passionately, laughing through tears, and thinking with the heart.

The cast of colorful characters includes:
Charlotte Stewart -- a freshman pastor, who experiences a crisis of faith.
Margaret Peele -- a no-nonsense widower who is the town confidante.
Louise Fisher -- known for her sharp-tongue, she has loved another woman for over forty years and finally gets to show it by caring for her in the last stages of Alzheimer's.
Roxie -- the woman loved by Louise, and suffering from Alzheimer's.
Jessie Jenkins -- the only African American in an all-white church.
Beatrice Newgarden -- the town busybody, who turns out to be the most solid friend to them all.

As these five very different women come together to create a church cookbook, they quickly become a source of solace, support, and strength for each other. Each struggling to make sense of her life -- her past, her relationships, her faith -- the women share much more than recipes; they share their passions, loves, heartbreaks, and hopes. Celebrating together and mourning together, they develop a deeper understanding of and compassion for each other and a genuine appreciation for the softness of heart and toughness of spirit that joins them as women. Just as surely as delectable Southern foods such as sweet potato casserole, prune cake, pecan pie, bananapudding, and corn relish sustain the body, it becomes evident that friendship nourishes the soul. The women end up with renewed faith, rekindled spirits, and the ingredients for true and lasting friendship.

Topics for Discussion
  • Margaret says that, "a heart can hold sadness a lot longer than it can anger," and that "sadness always outlasts the anger." Do you find this to be true? Is sadness a more durable emotion than anger?
  • Louise confirms that she is comfortable with death. She says that she thinks that, "death is an appropriate answer to the equation of life;" and that she "can sit in a room, watch as death approaches, gently take the hand of the dying person and lift them in its arms." Have you ever been with a person who has died? How would you describe this experience?
  • Beatrice, unlike Louise, fights against the arrival of death. If you were faced with a terminal illness who would you prefer to be with you, Louise or Beatrice? Why?
  • Jessie says that white women and black women have different traditions when it comes to cooking. Do you believe this to be true? If so, is this because of economically based differences or culturally based differences?
  • If you are a part of a community of faith, is it integrated? Do you think that worship should be integrated or remain segregated?
  • Rev. Charlotte Stewart, writes about how she likes to imagine God as a cloud, a pillar of fire, as manna from heaven. What images of God do you find comforting?
  • Do you think it was appropriate that Roxie should move to North Carolina and be cared for by Louise or do you think the "family" should have provided the care for her? Who if you had to and were able to, would you choose to care for you if you became sick?
  • Margaret claims that being a wise and trusted friend was better than being someone's mother. Do you believe it is possible for a woman to be fulfilled without having children?
  • Charlotte is distraught after Brittany's death and she asks her mother why God doesn't hear her prayers. Have you ever felt like God doesn't hear your prayers? Does her mother's response to this question help you at all in your own faith struggle?
  • The men from the church coming to help clean off the sidewalks for the wedding was for the young pastor, "the picture of grace, undeniable, indescribable grace." Name an event when you have seen evidence of grace.
  • Grace usually has to do with pardon, mercy, providing a gift of unmerited favor. Out of the five principal women in this story who do you think demonstrated the most grace? Why?
  • What are the ingredients you would like to include in your friendship cake?
  • What makes a good friend? Who is you best friend? Why?

    For Further Discussion
    Scripture says: "And she said, 'See your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.' But Ruth said, 'Entreat me not to leave you or to return from following you; for where you go I will go and where you lodge I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God, my God; where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if even death parts me from you.' And when Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more." [Ruth 1:15-18]

    Used frequently in wedding services, most people assume that this passage is between two lovers. But it actually comes from a story between in-laws. Naomi was Ruth's mother-in-law. When Ruth's husband died, Naomi encouraged Ruth to go back to live with her people; but Ruth loved Naomi. They were more than just mother and daughter-in-law, they were friends; and Ruth chose not to leave Naomi, her friend.

    In Friendship Cake, in the Corn Relish chapter, Margaret discovers that Louise is caring for Roxie by herself, Margaret goes to see her friend to find out what is going on and she learns about Louise's secret love. After hearing how Louise feels, Margaret commits herself to helping Louise care for Roxie and commits herself to love Roxie as Louise loves her.

    Topics for Further Discussion
  • How are the commitments of Ruth from the Bible and Margaret from FRIENDSHIP CAKE similar? How are they different?
  • How important is the element of loyalty to a friendship?
  • When have you experienced a friend's loyalty? When have you expected to have a friend be there for you and then have them leave or not show up? How did that experience affect you and the relationship?
  • Would you consider yourself a loyal friend?\

  • Customer Reviews

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    Friendship Cake (Hope Springs Series #1) 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 32 reviews.
    ArielJMC More than 1 year ago
    Lynne Hinton gifts us with an endearing story of how bonds formed between a small, very diverse group of women in church community both surprised and strengthened them. Her characters prove that faith, hope and friendship- and good cookin'!- can help us survive some of life's worse storms. Loved this book.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    one of the best books l have read. Enjoyed it a lot.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I love books about deep relationships between people, particularly women. I generally search them out, and even when I am not totally enthralled with the book, it generally serves its purpose in showing the importance of the relationships to each party. I didn't get that feeling with this book. In fact, I felt these characters were more acquaintances and I could easily see them just passing in the night. I may have set up the disappointment for myself because the book I had just finished when I picked this one up had been so good, I couldnt get enough reviews up on the various review sites, but overall, I found this book not much deeper than a romance novel. Below is the book I had finished before I started this one and if you read it, I think you will quickly see how a book about friendship should be written.
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    As a selection for our Book Club, I read Friendship Cake with anticipation of a great read, but was extremely disappointed. The characters were one dimensional and completely predictable. It seemed that the author was imitating one of the recent 'Southern Women' movies that have been released over the past few years, but without the depth of character development that makes a person real. The formula for plot could have been created by my 16 year old. Overall--sweet, but so SHALLOW.
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    Ifelt like I was just getting to know these women by the end of the book and can't wait for the next book. Very real people, you felt like you had met them before and look forward to seeing them again.
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    The four members (Margaret Peele, Louise Fisher, Beatrice Newgarden, and Jessie Jenkins) of the Hope Springs Community Church gather to collect and sort recipes for a cookbook, they also bring their life experiences and hopes and burdens. Five very different women begin to form a bond of friendship after years of casual acquaintances. Each one goes through a personal metamorphosis and self-awakening and become interconnected through a series of life events that forms an unbreakable bond. Each one comes to terms with crisis in their lives and realize they are not superwomen and lean on each other to get through difficult times. This is a quick, simple book that addresses all kinds of issues of loneliness, unplanned teenage pregnancy, cancer, Alzheimer's, lost love, death of a child, faith in God, racism, homosexuality, and various other situations. The author addresses the topics carefully sprinkling humor and Southern Recipes throughout...ending the novel with the recipe for Friendship Cake. It is a quick, easy, and enjoyable read with a positive lesson to carry forward.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I enjoyed this book about forming friendships and looking after each other.
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    Not only is this book an easy, touching and enjoyable read, the recipes are for truly terrific comfort food. I cooked both the Chicken Pie and Friendship Cake yesterday to rave reviews. I will be giving the book and the cake to many women friends this holiday.
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    I read this book within a few hours, I could not put it down. It tells of feelings and emotions that are in all of us. I am anxious to read Lynne Hinton's next book. Friendship Cake is a book that will stay with you long after being read!!
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    I looked at the women in this book and each of them brought to my mind a special friendship I share with someone close to me. I only hope my dedication to my own friends and to God is as admirable and amazing as what Bea, Louise, Roxy, Margaret, Jessie and Charlotte share. I sent copies to each of the women I thought of as I read the book.
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    I wish I could give this book more than 5-stars, because it is the first one I have read this summer that I truly enjoyed, cover to cover. It was a delightful character study of five women and their relationships. I truly enjoyed this book and have been recommending it to all of my friends!
    Noputt3 More than 1 year ago
    I had a hard time keeping up with the characters and who she was talking about. I couldn't visualize them in my head and that's not how I like to enjoy reading books.
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    I loved this book so much I read it cover to cover the same day I received it. The characters were interesting and the plot revolving around the creation of a church cookbook is one anyone who loves these cookbooks (as I do) will enjoy. We all probably have at least one of these cookbooks in our kitchen and never gave much thought to the lives of the women who work hard to put it together. As for the publisher notes about the conflicts being resolved too easily by only love, what else is there to soothe our hurts? Fabulous book you won't want to miss.
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    This was one of the most charming novels I've read in years. Hinton manages to write a warm, touching novel without falling into melodrama or cloying conclusions. Her use of recipes is not at all gimmicky; they accurately reflect their owners' true natures, and further serve to bind the unifying 'cookbook' plot together. I grew to love these characters and their lives; so much so that I long for a sequel!
    Guest More than 1 year ago

    In the style of Patricia Gaffney's Saving Graces, Friendship Cake is a real-life novel whose focus is women, the lives they live and the problems they face.

    Friendship Cake takes 5 disparate church women and throws them together in the course of putting together a church cookbook. But, it's more than recipes that get tested. Friendship, love and trust are put to the test over and over as the ladies learn to accept the others --- and themselves --- for who they are.

    I didn't know what to expect from this novel, which is written by a pastor in North Carolina and I have to say that I do hope Pastor Hinton has more stories like this tucked away, just waiting to be written. Quite a wonderful book.

    FearsomeFoursome on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Friendship Cake explores the bonds of friendship, faith, and love among five women who come together, some more reluctantly than others, to create a church cookbook. The five quirky, flawed, annoying, hilarious, strong, and beautiful women include (1) Charlotte, the new pastor who doubs her own faith as she ministers to others; (2) Margaret, the community's font of solid, nonjudgmental advice; (3) Louise, a tough, sarcastic woman who nurses her best friend in the last stages of Alzheimer's, a woman she has secretly loved these last 40 years; (4) Jessie, the only African-American in the church who joined on a dare and found her faith in the process; and (5) Beatrice, suitably described by Louise as "a fairy godmother in a funeral director's suit." As these women work together, they slowly realize they are building more than a cookbook. Watching their friendships grow and evolve was heartwarming, especially witnessing Beatrice grow from a busybody pest to a devout friend. It was a quick, gentle read evocative of small town life and the friendships that can unexpectedly blossom there. I recommend it.
    oldblack on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    This is a lightweight, easy read.with a fairly explicit message. Obviously written from a 'christian' perspective and is a story about women whose common connection is a church, and yet it isn't too preaching to be enjoyed by non-church-goers. It's romance, in the sense that all major issues turn out OK in the end, although to Hinton's credit, there are clearly some underlying problems which are unresolved. Lynne Hinton won't be getting any Pulitzer Prizes, but I suspect she'd be quite a good pastor.
    LisaMaria_C on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    OK, I feel like a sap for loving this so much, but I confess I did. And goodness, I have to give props for a book so moving it made me cry--more than once. I give you fair warning. This is friendship cake indeed. Light and sweet enough to carry a label cautioning you about cavities and diabetic shock. A novel about five women: a young pastor of a Christian church in North Carolina and four of her elderly parishioners in a graying congregation. We get to know each in turn in the five introductory chapters in their own voices, although the rest of the novel is third person. Each chapter begins with a recipe, as each is part of a women's society committee in the church putting together a cookbook.We first meet Margaret Peele, and her strong folksy voice drew me right in. A widow, Margaret is the sensible center of the church fellowship. Childless herself, young people are drawn to her willingness to listen and help. Louise Fisher is the woman who dares speaks out on those things others would ignore. Never married, she's a woman whose heart has long been given to another woman, her best friend of decades who is dying of Alzheimers. Beatrice Newgarden, a widow with three grown children, is a meddlesome busybody--but someone who at the core has a good heart, and initiates the cookbook project because she hopes it can bind them all together--as friends. Jessie Jenkins is the one black member of the otherwise "all-white" church. A mother and grandmother long separated from the husband who abandoned her years ago. Their pastor Reverend Charlotte Stewart is new to the church. She's straight out of seminary and well aware the only reason she was hired is because the church can't afford to pay what a male preacher would demand. She was drawn into a Methodist church as a child because she as the "daughter of an alcoholic... longed for an hour without surprises."I read this book because it was recommended on "The Ultimate Reading List" in the "Inspirational Fiction" section, which listed Christian Fiction. I'm not a believer, but that doesn't mean I didn't feel I couldn't learn or be moved by those of faith--I love CS Lewis, so I decided to give the list a shot. Five books listed were available in neighborhood book stores, including this one, and those were the ones I tried. I have to tell you, the others didn't put forth a form of Christianity I found the least admirable. Rather those books' worldview came across as cramped, narrow-minded, even bigoted. I have a feeling the other "Christian Fiction" authors would not like this book or Lynne Hinton, herself a Christian pastor. In fact several of them have pastors as characters resembling her Charlotte as their villains. I'm not claiming this as great literature. But I'm happy to be in the company of Maya Angelou, who said she'd welcome Hinton as a friend, and "welcome an invitation to sit down at her table"--because the vision she presents here, particularly in contrast to those other books, comes across as compassionate and wise.
    Mzkitty570 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    When five women from the Hope Springs Community Church in North Carolina form a committee to create a church cookbook, they embark on a project much more meaningful than they anticipate. As they gather recipes, they share their fears, hopes, and dreams. And they soon discover that food and friendship are the sustenance for the body and the soul. Folded into their poignant stories are delectable Southern recipes like "Fran's Chicken Pie," "Earnestines' Corn Relish,' and of course, a "Real Friendship Cake." This warm, tender tale of togetherness and the resilience of the human spirit provides the recipe from which good food-and good living-is made.I enjoyed this book very much. It's wonderful to have a support system of friends that, even though they may seem like they don't care, or are too different from your "world", can come together to support each other during difficult and happy times.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I selected this book for the added recipes. Both tje book and the recipes are duds. Wasted my money!
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    What a rip off. 123 pages for 9.00. Too much for a novella.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago