Allen’s latest (after The Sugar Queen) takes the familiar setup of a young protagonist returning to the small town where her elusive mother was raised, and subverts it by sprinkling just enough magic into the narrative to keep things lively but short of saccharine. Seventeen-year-old Emily Benedict, intent on learning more about her mother, Dulcie, moves in with her grandfather, but is disappointed to find that her grandfather doesn’t want to talk much about Dulcie. She soon discovers, though, that many still hold a grudge against Dulcie for the way she treated an old sweetheart before dumping him and disappearing. Luckily, Dulcie’s high school adversary, Julia Winterson, back in town to pay down her deceased father’s debt, takes a shine to Emily. She’s working another quest as well: baking cakes every day with the hope that they’ll somehow attract the daughter she gave up for adoption years ago. There are love interests, big family secrets, and magical happenings (color-changing wallpaper, mysterious lights) aplenty as Allen charts the spiraling inter-generational stories, bringing everything together in an unexpected way.
I was intrigued by this book the moment I opened the book to read the first page and I enjoyed throughly. It was very refreshing, adorable yet touches very serious issues and fairy-tale-ish! I loved the author’s writing style and it won’t be too long before I get hold of other books by her!