Judith Ryan Hendricks
I was first introduced to Ms. Hendricks' work through the novel Bread Alone, which I mostly read in a single night in a hotel in L.A. that had an extremely uncomfortable mattress. That book was warm and funny, and when I finished it, I was inspired to bake bread for the first time in years, so when I discovered that a sequel was published this year, I immediately added it to my amazon wishlist, and then ordered it when I spent the birthday gift certificates I'd amassed.
I regret to confess – I'm disapponted in the sequel. The Baker's Apprentice lives up to all those negative stereotypes of second novels, and while the old familiar characters – Wynter who fled her cheating husband in L.A. and moved to Seattle to bake bread, her friend and sometime roomate, the dancer CM, young blue-haired art school dropout and cake decorator, Tyler, andMac the bartender/novelist who wins Wynter's heart – are all there, they seem pale shadows of their earlier selves, and instead of coming away from this book feeling cozy and wanting to sip coffee and smell bread baking, I feel cold and sort of hollow and unsatisfied.
If Bread Alone was a perfectly flakey croissant with sweet cream butter and bitter dark marmalade, The Baker's Apprentice is Wonder bread – bland, spongey, and utterly lacking in color.