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Friendship Cake: 11/05/21
Friendship Cake by Lynne Hinton is the first book in the Hope Springs series. This book was one of those rare re-reads for me. I last read it seventeen years ago. At the time I was going through a huge move, had a toddler at home, and was relying heavily on book swapping sites and the library for my reading materials because money was extremely tight and I am a voracious reader.
COVID safety measures and closures made my usual methods for weeding my personal collection difficult to impossible. Thus the on-line book swapping sites were again a useful tool, this time mostly to find new homes for my books. But with credits amassing, the sites are useful to finding older books on my wishlist. Or in the case of Friendship Cake, a chance to re-read. I remembered it being a quick and satisfying read — even though it was far outside my usual genres.
Friendship Cake is a series of interconnected vignettes tied together by a church women's group attempting to put together a cookbook among a reluctant congregation. Each chapter begins with a recipe, most of which are typical of these fundraising cookbooks. About thirty-five years ago I helped my mother edit one so I can say the recipes and whole experience of putting it together rings true in this novel.
Beyond the cookbook, there is a woman taking in the love of her life as she succumbs to Alzheimer's and her own family feels like they can no longer care for her. There is a teenage pregnancy that is further complicated by the fact the mother is white and the father is Black. That said, neither life altering event ends up turning into something melodramatic. The various people involved, while emotional are fairly level headed and flexible, and that's a big plus. So often these big events are played for drama in the same of art and end up being ridiculous. Here, the quiet ebb and flow of things feels more realistic.
My one complaint is the cheesy ending. A particular contributor to the cookbook uses alcohol in her recipes. The final recipe is for a friendship cake that apparently has left people soused. So the women on the cookbook committee decide to end the book (and thus the novel too) with a metaphorical version of the cake. It's of the "Friendship is magic" or in this case, cake, variety. It's a lame, overly sentimental ending to an otherwise good book.