Saturday, 2 April 2011

Semi-Sweet: A Novel of Love and Cupcakes by Roison Meaney (Fiction, 9/10E)

25th April 2011 (American edition), Grand Central Publishing
274 pages, ebook, paperback 
Review copy (I had a PDF) 

Fiction, romance

Baking, cup cakes, new business venture, tragedy, accidents, ups and downs of family and friendships, alcohol abuse, infidelity, moderate adult references not too often, tissues needed, lots of laughs, inspiration 

Summary from Hachette Book Group 
Hannah Robinson is just about to open the doors to her new shop Cupcakes on the Corner when out of the blue her boyfriend Patrick announces that he's leaving her for another woman. Faced with starting a business on her own, Hannah begins to wonder if her life-long dream has just turned into a nightmare. So her best friend Adam sets his birthday as a deadline - seven months to make her shop a success, or walk away from it all. And as Hannah immerses herself in her new business, she soon discovers that she's too busy to think about Patrick and his now pregnant girlfriend .

Nayuleska's thoughts
This book was published last year in England, under the title Love in the Making, but it had a little make over for it's debut in America. Personally I prefer Semi-Sweet as the title. That's what attracted me to the book. It wasn't the romance, but the cake. 

I love cake. My colleagues love cake as much as I do (one in particular would love Hannah's shop). Cup cakes are so special, especially when they have icing on and come in sumptuous flavours. Life could be explained in cup cakes. A bitter chocolate cup cake would explain how gutted Hannah felt when Patrick left her. I wanted to hurl not-so-soft things at him. He is a complete numbskull. He is insensitive, has no staying power, and grah I really hated him. I don't think I ever felt sorry for him. 

Initially I didn't like Patrick's girlfriend either. Anyone who cheats on someone is a bad person (in my view). However, Patrick doesn't treat her as well as she should. I felt that was a bit unfair, especially with the baby on the way. The ending was more than satisfactory for those two. 

I was so scared that Hannah's business wouldn't work. I loved how nervous she was on the first day, and how her mother was giving her a hand just to help her get started. Her mother cares for her very much, and finds it hard not to lend a hand, especially later on in the novel when she thinks Hannah is making a big mistake about something. Hannah is a sweetheart. She doesn't want to hurt anyone, she just wants to succeed. She finds life so tough on her own after the affair was announced. It's harsh when she figures out how long it had been going on for. It was the little things that struck her unexpectedly, and made her take what I initially thought was an understandable, but rash decision. The ending completely took me by surprise. I had thought there might have been more competition with the guy she eventually gets together with. I liked how he was linked to Hannah's best friend's girlfriend - it was rather clever how that relationship formed. 

Like a multi-tiered cake, (I can't resist cake related references for this review), there are heaps of layers to this book. It deals really well with a wife who knows her husband likes his drink, but wants to sweep it under the carpet. The guilt that she gets when tragedy strikes had me in tears (especially at the funeral). It is very realistic both how she feels and how she reacts. That too has an impact on Hannah's life, because Hannah's mother knows Alice very well. By viewing the story from different viewpoints, it's easy to get an insight on every aspect of the story. I was a little bit mixed on one or two point of views, only because they were infrequent and although they added to the story, by that point I was juggling several view points and it got a little complicated knowing whose view it was. 

Hannah is a real inspiration for all of us to follow our dreams, however insurmountable they may be. She knew the risks of her business, but it's her passion as well has her friends and family who keep her going. That's just how I think life should be. 

Final conclusion
If you like to witness someone following their dream through the highs and lows that life's throw at them, check out Hannah's story. It's probably a good thing her shop is fictional and isn't anywhere near to where I live! 

You can find out more about Hannah and her other books on her website

Suggested reads

Marrying Out of Money by Nicky Schmidt, Romance, another tale focusing on the drama of family life, set in  the upper circle of society. 

For younger readers: 

Angel Cake by Cathy Cassidy, Children's, life through the eyes of a Polish girl, new to England and encountering culture shock. 

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