"How to Eat a Cupcake," by Meg Donahue, is a book that has been sitting on my shelves for a couple of months now, calling out to me every time I walk past: ‘read me!’, ‘look at me!’ I was so pleased to start reading this book and stare daily at the lovely cover, which shows a window full of delectable looking cupcakes...yum!
This is a two-pronged novel set in San Francisco where the narrative follows both Annie and Julia, two contrasting women who were raised in the same household, once as close as sisters, well not anymore..not until events reconnect them after ten years of living separate lives.
Growing up, Julia, as the only child of the St. Clair family, never wanted for anything, and lived with her wealthy parents in a fabulous Pacific Heights mansion. Annie is the only child of the St. Clair’s housekeeper, Lucia, and whilst she resides with her warm and loving mother in the estate’s Carriage house, the St.Clairs treat Lucia and Annie very much as family, even paying for Annie to attend private school alongside Julia. However, dramatic events in Annie’s late teens turn their sisterhood sour and they soon head their separate ways.
Ten years later, Julia has left her prestigious job in New York City to come home to her parents so she can concentrate on planning her upcoming wedding. But why such a sudden and dramatic upheaval? Annie is a talented baker who dazzles everyone with her cupcakes; the problem is she still works for other people when she secretly strives to run her own business. A catering opportunity at the St.Clair's estate sees Annie head back to the place where so many difficult memories lay. When Julia is unexpectedly at the event and subsequently suggests opening a cupcakery together, Annie is initially reluctant, after all, she despises this woman for what she did, but is it worth throwing away her one shot at running her own business? No.
Once opened, the cupcakery becomes subject to a spate of unexplained crimes leaving Annie and Julia fearful for their lives, but will this make or break the already fractured friendship? And who does the perpetrator want rid of and why?
I enjoyed this debut novel very much. I cared about Annie as a character and wanted her to have success and be happy. I liked the fact that she wasn’t one of those characters that came across as desperate or secretly wishing to settle down and have children, she was happy in herself starting up the business and any relationships which are formed are a bonus to her. Julia, not so likeable initially, she comes across as self-absorbed and you become swayed by Annie’s own views of Julia. The more the narrative progresses through Julia’s viewpoint, the more you begin to warm to her as a character even though she still has many flaws.
I particularly enjoyed the mystery in this novel; it keeps the reader guessing throughout, you feel intrigued as to why the pair fell out, as well as who is trying to sabotage the cupcakery and why. Some unexpected twists were also thrown in which added to the enjoyment. I also enjoyed the setting, maybe I’m easily pleased but I can’t remember reading a novel set in San Francisco before and I felt like there was a really strong sense of place in this book. The best sign of enjoyment is not wanting a book to finish and I really didn’t, I felt strong ties with both of the characters by the end and just wanted to stay in their worlds and in San Francisco!
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