Monday, 20 January 2014

Book review: The All You Can Dream Buffet by Barbara O'Neal


My edition: ebook, to be published on 4 March 2014 by Bantam.

Description: Popular blogger and foodie queen Lavender Wills reigns over Lavender Honey Farms, a serene slice of organic heaven nestled in Oregon wine country. Lavender is determined to keep her legacy from falling into the profit-driven hands of uncaring relatives, and she wants an heir to sustain her life's work after she's gone. So she invites her three closest online friends—fellow food bloggers, women of varied ages and backgrounds—out to her farm. She hopes to choose one of them to inherit it—but who?

There's Ginny, the freckle-faced Kansas cake baker whose online writing is about to lead her out of a broken marriage and into a world of sensual delights. And Ruby, young, pregnant, devoted to the organic movement, who's looking for roots—and the perfect recipe to heal a shattered heart. Finally, Val, smart and sophisticated, a wine enthusiast who needs a fresh start for her teenage daughter after tragedy has rocked their lives.

Coming together will change the Foodie Four in ways they could never have imagined, uniting them in love and a common purpose. As they realize that life doesn't always offer a perfect recipe for happiness, they also discover that the moments worth savoring are flavored with some tears, a few surprises, and generous helping of joy.

Rating:



I was instantly drawn to The All You Can Dream Buffet because of its enticing look as with its delicate pastel colours and vintage feel it is half-way between the cover of a cook book and that of a romance read. And that is exactly what this is, a story of four women who meet through their mutual appreciation of food and battle life and love along the way. Much of their (spare) time revolves around sharing their culinary passion with each other and strangers on their various blogs, which was very appealing for a blogger and food lover like myself, and as soon as I got my hands on a copy I couldn't wait to dig into this mouth-watering read.

The novel starts off quite sweet and light-hearted as the four friends are introduced in alternating chapters (and in between the reader is treated to a selection of inspirational blog posts which is a lovely bonus), but along the way there's an emotional journey for both the characters and the reader too. Ruby is the youngest of the friends, a bit of a flower child and pregnant with her ex's baby, Ginny is unhappily married and uses her blog as a form of escapism from her life, Val lost her husband and a daughter and is struggling to connect to her other daughter since the accident, and Lavender is the glue that holds them all together - she is approaching her 85th birthday and is inviting her friends to celebrate the special occasion with her so they can all, finally, meet in real life. Unbeknownst to the others this is also Lavender's personal mission to see which one of her friends will inherit her farm and legacy.

I'm a big fan of the kind of books where a diverse group of people connect over a mutual passion, such as the wonderful The Vintage Teacup Club by Vanessa Greene and The Meryl Streep Movie Club by Mia March, and this one falls right into the same category. Because the friends span various generations and are at different stages in their lives there's something within the pages for every kind of reader to identify with. In this novel I felt closest to Ginny as I completely understood her desperate need to change her uninspired and unloving home life into something more fulfilling. While she initially turned to blogging to escape from the dullness of her life, it turned into much more and not only did she meet likeminded people who became dear friends, along the way she also became proud of her work and herself.

In a day and age where Pinterest is an inspirational and creative outlet for women of many different ages, and blogging has become a popular way of communicating between mums, foodies, knitters, and so forth, it is great to see a novel tying these now important aspects of many a woman's life into a great fiction story. One which explores the positive change these digital outlets can bring into a person's life, not to mention the strong friendships that get formed along the way.

Filled with delectable recipes, interesting blogs, and lots of cooking amongst the friends central to the story there is certainly plenty of inspiration for foodies lovers to be found within the pages. And with a solid story about love, family, loss and most of all friendship, the novel is equally appealing to those who appreciate a good fiction read which has realistic and relatable characters, experiencing the many ups and downs that are thrown our way in life.

You can purchase a copy of the novel from Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com or your own preferred retailer.



Would you like to know more about the author? You can connect with her online at:

Website: www.barbaraoneal.com

Twitter: @barbaraoneal

Facebook: www.facebook.com/BarbaraSamuelONeal


Many thanks to the publisher for providing a copy of the novel via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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