The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living, by Louise Miller

Setting:  Between Boston and Guthrie, Vermont

Characters

  • Olivia, pastry chef, narrator
  • Hannah, Olivia’s best friend
  • Margaret, owner of The Sugar Maple Inn in Guthrie

Plot:  Olivia Rawlings is having a bad day. After dropping a lit Baked Alaska at a big celebration and consequently setting fire to the restaurant where she works, Livvy packs a bag and her dog, Salty, and hits the road. Her first stop is a favorite greasy spoon for a slice of pie. Her second is her friend Hannah’s place in Vermont. After sharing the disastrous story, Hannah sets some wheels in motion that will end up changing a lot of lives before the story ends.

Even though she isn’t quite sure about the position, or her new boss, Margaret, Livvy takes a one-year placement as the pastry chef of the Sugar Maple Inn. She and Salty take up residence in the sugaring cabin on the property and Livvy starts to settle in. She soon learns that life in a small country town is much different from the busy, bustling, big city. Livvy insists that the stay isn’t permanent, especially since Margaret seems to be making plans to sell the inn in the new future anyway. Nevertheless, she forms deeper and deeper attachments to her work, the Inn, and the McCraken family. Dorothy McCraken is Margaret’s best friend, and there’s something drawing Livvy to Dorothy’s youngest son, Martin.

The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living is a deliciously satisfying read. It’s filled with humor, wit, romance, heartbreak, and bushels of charm. I’m sad the story is over!

Pacing:  Smooth

Predictability:  Medium

Wild Card:  Don’t read this book on an empty stomach! The descriptions of all foods sweet and savory made my mouth water (but especially the sweets!).


28110139About the Book

A full-hearted novel about a big-city baker who discovers the true meaning of home—and that sometimes the best things are found when you didn’t even know you were looking

When Olivia Rawlings—pastry chef extraordinaire for an exclusive Boston dinner club—sets not just her flambéed dessert but the entire building alight, she escapes to the most comforting place she can think of—the idyllic town of Guthrie, Vermont, home of Bag Balm, the country’s longest-running contra dance, and her best friend Hannah. But the getaway turns into something more lasting when Margaret Hurley, the cantankerous, sweater-set-wearing owner of the Sugar Maple Inn, offers Livvy a job. Broke and knowing that her days at the club are numbered, Livvy accepts.

Livvy moves with her larger-than-life, uberenthusiastic dog, Salty, into a sugarhouse on the inn’s property and begins creating her mouthwatering desserts for the residents of Guthrie. She soon uncovers the real reason she has been hired—to help Margaret reclaim the inn’s blue ribbon status at the annual county fair apple pie contest.

With the joys of a fragrant kitchen, the sound of banjos and fiddles being tuned in a barn, and the crisp scent of the orchard just outside the front door, Livvy soon finds herself immersed in small town life. And when she meets Martin McCracken, the Guthrie native who has returned from Seattle to tend his ailing father, Livvy comes to understand that she may not be as alone in this world as she once thought.

But then another new arrival takes the community by surprise, and Livvy must decide whether to do what she does best and flee—or stay and finally discover what it means to belong. Olivia Rawlings may finally find out that the life you want may not be the one you expected—it could be even better.

14880065About the Author
Louise Miller is a pastry chef who lives and works in Boston, MA. She received a scholarship to attend GrubStreet’s Novel Incubator program, a yearlong workshop for novelists. She is an art school dropout, an amateur flower gardener, an old-time banjo player, an obsessive moviegoer, and a champion of old dogs. The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living is her debut novel.

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