Reviewed by Kay Brooks
Bettina May has recently moved to Throckton and opened her own bakery, Adventures in Bread. After spending the last 15 years trying and failing to find a way to deal with the tragedy that stole the life of her twin brother Sam, Bettina is finally managing to find happiness. She is in a new tentative relationship with a caring and patient man, and the business is going from strength to strength. When Bettina is nominated for a local business award, the associated publicity brings a familiar, unwelcome face back into Bettina’s life. Is she strong enough to finally face the demons that have haunted her for so long?
When this novel first arrived through the letterbox, I was unsurprised to see that it was set in a bakery as this seems to be a bit of a trend at the moment. As a rubbish cook, I do still enjoy reading cookery related stories but, for me, it has become a bit overdone as a theme. Despite my reservations, Bettina’s enthusiasm and Butland’s descriptions of the bread being baked were evocative enough to have me pulling out some old recipes to attempt with my children over half term! Some of the more popular recipes are also included at the back of the book.
The novel moves between Bettina’s life as an 18 year old working in the stables owned by the Floods, parents to gorgeous and confident Olympic equestrian hopeful Roddy, and her current life as bakery owner. The voices are different enough to show how Bettina has grown up. As her younger self, she goes by the name Tina and has all the hopefulness of a girl who has her whole life in front of her. As a woman in her thirties, she has lost her naivety and lowered her expectations in love. Her relationship with Rufus has not been defined as romantic yet with Bettina’s heart firmly stuck on the day when she lost her brother – her true love and her mother lost her will to live.
The novel starts with Bettina in the present and at first I found her to be overly cagey and quite selfish due to the way she keeps Rufus at arm’s length without being honest with him about her feelings. As the clues are gradually revealed about what happened on that fateful day, I was able to be more sympathetic.
I grew quite impatient waiting for the events to be revealed as it seemed to be unnecessarily drawn out. Once I was fully filled in on the events of the past, the following events seemed to happen really quickly. The backstory is surprisingly simple despite the long build up. I wanted her to be more grateful to Rufus for his seemingly endless patience. Despite these drawbacks, I really did enjoy reading this book.
An emotional read that successfully interweaves the past and the subsequently damaged future.