Friday, March 6, 2015

The Union Street Bakery (A Union Street Bakery Novel Book 1)

Author:  Mary Ellen Taylor
Genre:  Fiction/Historical Fiction

Four Stars

Life can turn on a dime. It’s a common cliché, and I’d heard it often enough. People die or move away. Investments go south. Affairs end. Loved ones betray us...Stuff happens. 

Daisy McCrae's life is in tatters.  She's lost her job, broken up with her boyfriend, and has been reduced to living in the attic above her family's store, the Union Street Bakery, while learning the business.  Unfortunately, the bakery is in serious hardship.  Making things worse is the constant feeling of not being a "real" McCrae since she was adopted as a child and has a less-than-perfect relationship with her two sisters.

Then a long-standing elderly customer passes away, and for some reason bequeaths Daisy a journal dating back to the 1850's, written by a slave girl named Susie.  As she reads, Daisy learns more about her family-and her own heritage-than she ever dreamed.  Haunted by dreams of the young Susie, who beckons Daisy to "find her," she is compelled to look further into the past of the town and her family.

What she finds are the answers she has longed for her entire life, and a chance to begin again with the courage and desire she thought she lost for good.

********

Daisy McCrae has just lost what she thinks to be everything - her job and her fiance.  She returns home at the request of her parents to help run the bakery that has been passed down generation through generation.  Her sister Rachel is baking the confections but totally overwhelmed with the financial aspects.  When Daisy digs in she finds that the situation is worse than she at first thought, and the bakery is in serious trouble of going under.  Thinking this is merely a temporary situation, Daisy, with her background in financial investment, digs in and attempts to bring it all back into the black.

But things aren't so cut and dried.  Daisy is being haunted by a yet-unnamed ghost in the attic of the bakery where she resides, and haunted by her past:  At three years old she was left in front of the bakery by her birth mother, and has never gotten over it.  To add to it all, Mabel Woodrow, an elderly resident of Alexandria, dies and bequeaths a diary from the pre-Civil War era to her, something that Daisy doesn't understand now but will soon bring many things to light.

I really liked this book, for the most part.  It told an interesting tale of the life of a young slave girl in the 1850's; albeit in bits and pieces that are filled in throughout the book.  Daisy's life, and that of her sisters, Rachel and Margaret, were also strong in the book and fleshed out well enough that you come to know them.  Daisy isn't happy to be returning to a place she hoped never to have to visit again, but rallies when she realizes just how much her help is needed.  Watching her grow through her pain and emotions is quite intense at times.

What I didn't care for (and caused the removal of one star) was the fact that she carried a "poor little me" attitude through most of the book.  Yes, she was abandoned by her birth mother at age three in front of the bakery (not really a spoiler since it's all written out fairly early,) but she's 34-years-old.  So for 31 years, in the arms of what appears to be a very loving family, she can't let go of the fact that her birth parent just walked away.  I am sure that there are people born into families that aren't treated as well as her and still manage to go on.  At some point, and I don't know where, I wanted to scream at her 'Yes!  You were abandoned by your birth mother!  But no one in your life has ever left you since!'  Where on earth she got the idea that people were leaving her right and left is beyond me.  I got the feeling that everyone in her family truly loved her and were there for her, no matter what.  There wasn't a single indication that anyone in her family ever thought of leaving her anywhere, from the day she was given to them, and that's why her attitude didn't make any sense.  I have a bit of advice for Daisy:  It doesn't matter where you came from, it matters where you are now.

Other than that, the book was written very well, and all in all I enjoyed it.  Recommended.

http://www.amazon.com/Union-Street-Bakery-Ellen-Taylor/dp/0425259692/

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