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Friendship Bread

Cover of Friendship Bread

Friendship Bread

A Novel
Borrow Borrow

An anonymous gift sends a woman on a journey she never could have anticipated.

One afternoon, Julia Evarts and her five-year-old daughter, Gracie, arrive home to find an unexpected gift on the front porch: a homemade loaf of Amish Friendship Bread and a simple note: I hope you enjoy it. Also included are a bag of starter, instructions on how to make the bread herself, and a request to share it with others.

Still reeling from a personal tragedy that left her estranged from the sister who was once her best friend, Julia remains at a loss as to how to move on with her life. She'd just as soon toss the anonymous gift, but to make Gracie happy, she agrees to bake the bread.

When Julia meets two newcomers to the small town of Avalon, Illinois, she sparks a connection by offering them her extra bread starter. Widow Madeline Davis is laboring to keep her tea salon afloat while Hannah Wang de Brisay, a famed concert cellist, is at a crossroads, her career and marriage having come to an abrupt end. In the warm kitchen of Madeline's tea salon, the three women forge a friendship that will change their lives forever.

In no time, everyone in Avalon is baking Amish Friendship Bread. But even as the town unites for a benevolent cause and Julia becomes ever closer to her new friends, she realizes the profound necessity of confronting the painful past she shares with her sister.

About life and loss, friendship and community, food and family, Friendship Bread tells the uplifting story of what endures when even the unthinkable happens.


From the Hardcover edition.

An anonymous gift sends a woman on a journey she never could have anticipated.

One afternoon, Julia Evarts and her five-year-old daughter, Gracie, arrive home to find an unexpected gift on the front porch: a homemade loaf of Amish Friendship Bread and a simple note: I hope you enjoy it. Also included are a bag of starter, instructions on how to make the bread herself, and a request to share it with others.

Still reeling from a personal tragedy that left her estranged from the sister who was once her best friend, Julia remains at a loss as to how to move on with her life. She'd just as soon toss the anonymous gift, but to make Gracie happy, she agrees to bake the bread.

When Julia meets two newcomers to the small town of Avalon, Illinois, she sparks a connection by offering them her extra bread starter. Widow Madeline Davis is laboring to keep her tea salon afloat while Hannah Wang de Brisay, a famed concert cellist, is at a crossroads, her career and marriage having come to an abrupt end. In the warm kitchen of Madeline's tea salon, the three women forge a friendship that will change their lives forever.

In no time, everyone in Avalon is baking Amish Friendship Bread. But even as the town unites for a benevolent cause and Julia becomes ever closer to her new friends, she realizes the profound necessity of confronting the painful past she shares with her sister.

About life and loss, friendship and community, food and family, Friendship Bread tells the uplifting story of what endures when even the unthinkable happens.


From the Hardcover edition.

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Excerpts-
  • From the book

    CHAPTER 1

    I hope you enjoy it.

    Julia Evarts looks up from the paper in her hand and studies the gallon-size Ziploc bag. Inside is a substance that reminds her of drywall compound, except it's much pastier and filled with tiny air bubbles. It would have gone straight into the trash had Gracie not been standing beside her, eyes wide with curiosity.

    "Mama, can I try one?" Gracie asks. She holds up a china plate decorated with pansies and roses. Several slices of what looks like banana bread are fanned out on the plate and covered with plastic wrap. Gracie was the first to spot it when they pulled up to the house--the plate, the Ziploc, and the accompanying instructions for "Amish Friendship Bread" sitting on their front porch. There was no card, only a yellow sticky note with the five words written in shaky cursive.

    For a moment Julia was confused--had the weekly meals started up again? Not that she'd mind having a casserole to serve for dinner tonight, but this? This smelled suspiciously like a chain letter, with the added headache of having to bake something. Julia can't remember the last time she'd baked something.

    Gracie tears off the plastic wrap before Julia can stop her. "This looks good!"

    Julia has to admit that it does look good. It's coming up on 3:00 p.m., time for an afternoon snack anyway, and as usual she hasn't thought this far ahead. She has no idea how other mothers do it, or how she managed to pull it off before.

    "Gracie, hold on. Let's get inside first." Julia unlocks the front door and ushers her five-year-old daughter inside.

    She puts their things on the kitchen island and then opens the fridge. It's pretty bare because Julia has forgotten to go grocery shopping, and there's no milk. She doesn't want to have to go out again, so she pours Gracie a glass of water from the tap and heats up the remains of this morning's coffee for herself.

    "Now?" Gracie is practically bouncing in place.

    They eat straight off the plate, using their fingers. It's not banana bread or like anything Julia's ever tasted before. It's moist and sweet with a hint of cinnamon. It hits the spot, as unexpected kindness always does, and soon there is only one slice left.

    "I bet Daddy would like it," Gracie says. Her fingers have crumbs on them, and she licks each one.

    Julia bets he would, too. Mark has a sweet tooth, even though he's been on a bit of a health kick lately. She tucks a stray strand of Gracie's mousy brown hair behind her ear, so different from Julia's flyaway strawberry-blond curls. "We'll put it aside for him," Julia says, even though she was hoping to have the last piece for herself. She reaches for the used plastic wrap but Gracie gets to it first.

    Julia watches as Gracie tries to extricate the wrap from itself. She waits for the tantrum, for the meltdown that sometimes happens at this time of day, but Gracie manages to pull the plastic wrap apart and lay it over the single slice of bread, carefully tucking it under the scalloped edges of the plate.

    "I did it!" Gracie looks at her handiwork, proud. "So now what?"

    Julia notices a blue streak of dried paint on the back of Gracie's hand and gives it a rub. "What do you mean, now what?"

    Gracie holds up the note and the instructions. "Is this a recipe? It looks like a recipe. Are we supposed to do something? I can mix. I'm great at mixing!" The sugar from the bread has clearly entered Gracie's bloodstream.

    Julia turns to look at the Ziploc bag slouching on the counter. She has figured out that it's basically fermenting batter, but the mere thought of baking and what it entails exhausts her. "Yes, you are great...

Reviews-
  • Kirkus

    "The novel traces the effect of the friendship bread on a small town, jumping from neighbor to neighbor, but focuses on a small group of women whose lives need mending...Gee admirably weaves the various lives together...and demonstrates that simple companionship is a powerful balm...A satisfying first novel by Gee; perfect for the book-club circuit and beyond."

  • Library Journal "This entertaining series debut by Gee (who also writes as Mia King) will appeal to fans of tearjerkers like Kristin Hannah's Winter Garden or novels dealing with the loss of a family member, such as Lolly Winston's Good Grief. It's also ideal for book clubs and readers who like stories about small-town life; it expertly weaves together numerous characters and narratives and even includes recipes and directions for making friendship bread."
  • Kate Jacobs, New York Times bestselling author of The Friday Night Knitting Club "Deliciously entertaining! You'll root all the way as these characters stumble toward forgiveness, understanding, and, ultimately, celebration. A perfect book club selection, Friendship Bread is a treat worth sharing with all the women in your life."
  • Nancy Pickard, New York Times bestselling author of The Scent of Rain and Lightning "
    "The wonderful characters in Friendship Bread face life-changing adversity of the sort that either brings us down or transforms us into better people. Darien Gee has a writer's heart and a baker's sense of mixing it all just right. The result is a book you will read over and over."
  • Jane Green, New York Times bestselling author of Promises to Keep "As comforting, warm and delicious as a slice of freshly-baked friendship bread."
  • Patricia Wood, national bestselling author of Lottery "Friendship Bread is a poignant, utterly compelling read. Darien Gee has deftly created a small town so endearing, you won't want to leave. Friendship Bread is a novel you won't soon forget."
  • Ann Hood, national bestselling author of The Red Thread "Friendship Bread is a heartwarming novel that celebrates small town life, good friends, and the healing power of bread. Like the bread of the title, read this then pass it on to someone you love!"
  • Luanne Rice, New York Times bestselling author of The Geometr "
    "Friendship Bread is a vivid, tender portrait of friends, a window into the intricacies of friendship itself. Darien Gee writes with great warmth and wisdom, with deep insight into her characters. She is a wonderful writer."
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