I am not the right audience for this book.
I had forgotten I read The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living, but then I got the three-day reminder from my library that it was due back. Blast! So I went to Goodreads to see what my fellow readers were saying. That was a bit of a surprise, as it sure seems like people love this book. They LOVE it. I had to scroll down like 15 reviews before I got to one that was less than three stars. Same thing on Amazon.
I actually feel a little bad reviewing it. Clearly, there is an audience for this book, and clearly, I am not it.
The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living is about a professional chef, Livvy, who lives in Boston. One night at work, in the middle of a kind of emotional breakdown, she accidentally sets the restaurant on fire. This leads to her fleeing the city (not, like, fleeing criminal charges, although that would’ve added an interesting dimension) for a small town in Vermont. She ends up becoming the baker at a B&B, getting involved in the lives of the eccentric locals and trying to win the blue ribbon in the pie contest at the county fair.
Does that not sound like a charming, delightful, don’t-have-to-think-too-hard book? I sure thought so. But it just didn’t hold my interest. The characterization is not good; I had no idea why Livvy did the things she did. Her boss started off cold and haughty but then suddenly became a sweetheart without any reason that I could see. The plot is barely there, and the pat ending was hugely disappointing. I could have forgiven all that, though, but for one thing: the quirky locals are not quirky enough. I don’t need Northern Exposure levels of quirk, but at least a little Gilmore Girls would’ve been nice. The weirdest thing about this small town is the number of residents who know how to play a banjo (that. . .actually makes it sound really weird and kind of disturbing; it isn’t). There were some good things: I liked Livvy’s love interest, and the descriptions of the food were lovely and mouth-watering.
Anyway, if this is the kind of book you like, don’t take my word for it. There are huge swaths of readers out there who adored it, and so if this is your thing you probably will, too.