The Cake Therapist by Judith Fertig

The Cake Therapist by Judith Fertig

Debut fiction author Judith Fertig is on the blog today with a story about the healing powers of cake. Yes, we all knew it was true (or hoped) and this story narrated by Tanya Eby just may take your side!

The Cake Therapist

Far more complex than the synopsis allows, the sense of special powers combines with secrets and histories of the past and present all boxed neatly in a bakery run by a recent returnee to small town life.

Claire has left the fast pace of New York in her rear-view mirror, settling back in Millcreek Valley with her Rainbow Cakes bakery, intent on starting anew.  Claire’s always wanted her own shop, and her ability to ‘taste’ what a person may need or want in their deepest corners helps her to customize ‘never fail’ products. With a full complement of characters from the town, there seems to be no shortage of potential, and Claire is willing to work long and hard to make a success.  When something seems to be affecting Claire’s sense of taste, and she is curious about what secrets may lie beneath the surface, and just who or why she is discovering them now.

Told in Claire’s point of view for the present tense, and shifting to third person for the slow reveals that will unearth the secrets buried in town, the insets from the mid 19th century and World War II era tales, the story takes a meandering path to the conclusion, in which Claire is able to answer the many questions.  While a few are left unanswered, the meandering pace does take some adjustment for readers, where nothing quite fits together until the end. Reading this story is like baking a cake: one sees the ingredients doled out in small bit of necessary measurement, each element presenting as a whole in rather haphazard succession.  While not an easy summer read, this book provides just enough substance to require careful attention, a perfect curl-up on a lazy weekend read.

Narration for the story is provided by Tanya Eby. Eby’s voice is pleasantly modulated and does lend itself to emotionally present inflections.  There was not much adjustment in tone or pacing to indicate different characters, and where sharper emotions were required, there was a tendency to substitute increases or decreases in volume rather than emoting.  Not an unpleasant listen, but more a ‘reading’ of the title than a performance.

Overall, an interesting option when you aren’t wanting simply ‘light and fluffy’ to spend an afternoon with.

Stars: Overall: 4 Narration: 3  Story:  4

The Cake Therapist by Judith Fertig

Title: The Cake Therapist
Author: Judith Fertig
Genre: Contemporary Woman's Fiction
Published by: Berkley
ISBN: 0425277321
Published on: 2 June 2015
Source: AudioBook Jukebox
Pages: 304
Audio Length: 7 Hours: 27 minutes
Rated: four-stars
Get Your Copy: Amazon AllRomance iTunes Kobo Downpour IndieBound Book Depository Google
See this Title on Goodreads

A fiction debut that will leave you wanting seconds, from an award-winning cookbook author.

Claire “Neely” O’Neil is a pastry chef of extraordinary talent. Every great chef can taste shimmering, elusive flavors that most of us miss, but Neely can “taste” feelings—cinnamon makes you remember; plum is pleased with itself; orange is a wake-up call. When flavor and feeling give Neely a glimpse of someone’s inner self, she can customize her creations to help that person celebrate love, overcome fear, even mourn a devastating loss.

Maybe that’s why she feels the need to go home to Millcreek Valley at a time when her life seems about to fall apart. The bakery she opens in her hometown is perfect, intimate, just what she’s always dreamed of—and yet, as she meets her new customers, Neely has a sense of secrets, some dark, some perhaps with tempting possibilities. A recurring flavor of alarming intensity signals to her perfect palate a long-ago story that must be told.

Neely has always been able to help everyone else. Getting to the end of this story may be just what she needs to help herself.

A copy of this title was provided via AudioBook Jukebox for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

About Judith Fertig

Novelist and cookbook author Judith Fertig grew up in the Midwest, went to cooking school in London and Paris, and now lives in the Kansas City area. Described by Saveur Magazine as a "heartland cookbook icon," Fertig debuts a new novel that engage the mind, the heart, and all five senses—and celebrates cookbooks that reflect her love of bread, baking, barbecue, and the fabulous foods of the Heartland. 

Novels you can read like cookbooks.  Cookbooks you can read like novels. That’s what you get when an English major studies at École de Cuisine La Varenne (formerly in Paris) and The Cordon Bleu in London plus The Iowa Writers Workshop. Fertig often weaves storytelling into her books.

Where there’s fire, there’s smoke. It’s not every author who spends part of her working life in a real rhinestone tiara—as one of Kansas City’s BBQ Queens. With co-author Karen Adler, Fertig has written eight barbecue books, including their Patio Pizzeria (Running Press, 2013) The Gardener and the Grill (Running Press, 2012), in bookstores around the country as well as Williams-Sonoma, Anthropologie, Lowe’s, and Costco. She has a Ph.B. (Doctor of Barbecue Philosophy) from the prestigious, if fictitious, Greasehouse University.

Read all about it. Fertig’s food and lifestyle writing has appeared in Bon Appetit, Food & Wine, Vegetarian Times, Natural Awakenings, Better Homes & Gardens, Saveur, Country Living, Cooking Pleasures, Family Fun, Coastal Living, Southern Living, La Vie Claire, Spaces Magazine, and Cooking Light. Her work has appeared internationally in Country Homes and Interiors (London), The New York Times, and The London Sunday Times.

Fertig has appeared on the Food Network and many TV and radio stations. She gives talks across the country, blogs, tweets, and posts on Facebook. She is a member of Les Dames d’Escoffier, The Kansas City Barbeque Society, The Kansas City Novel Group, and IACP.