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Publisher's Summary

In a novel as warm and embracing as a family kitchen, Barbara O’Neal explores the poignant, sometimes complex relationships between mothers and daughters - and the healing magic of homemade bread. Professional baker Ramona Gallagher is a master of an art that has sustained her through the most turbulent times, including a baby at 15 and an endless family feud. But now Ramona’s bakery threatens to crumble around her. Literally. She’s one water-heater disaster away from losing her grandmother’s rambling Victorian and everything she’s worked so hard to build.

When Ramona’s soldier son-in-law is wounded in Afghanistan, her daughter, Sophia, races overseas to be at his side, leaving Ramona as the only suitable guardian for Sophia’s 13-year-old stepdaughter, Katie. Heartbroken, Katie feels that she’s being dumped again - this time on the doorstep of a woman out of practice with mothering.

Ramona calls upon a special set of tools - patience, persistence, and the reliability of a good recipe - when rebellious Katie arrives. And as she relives her own history of difficult choices, Ramona shares her love of baking with the troubled girl. Slowly, Katie begins to find self-acceptance and a place to call home. And when a man from her past returns to offer a second chance at love, Ramona discovers that even the best recipe tastes better when you add time, care, and a few secret ingredients of your own.

©2011 Barbara Samuel (P)2013 Brilliance Audio, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"This book will have you smiling and crying and pining for an old love, or just a hunk of really good fresh-baked bread. I loved every single delicious bite." (Jennie Shortridge, author of When She Flew)

What listeners say about How to Bake a Perfect Life

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Good Listen...

I am attracted to books about bakers or cooks of almost any kind. But I truly love bakeries.
I believe making bread is very rewarding, it is woven through this book. Loved that! This is a good story mainly about women of different ages, how they interact with each other, how they need one another. It is a good story with a good theme relates to todays problems and allows some the best things of the past to remain. Well paced unless you want a really fast book.
The narration was good. I took one star away because I didn't appreciate her male voice not a problem normally. Her male voice brings the visual in my mind of a cartoon hound dog. Sorry I don't want to be mean, in my head every man had a hound face, lol. Well, produced.

5 people found this helpful

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Simple story

Would you try another book from Barbara O'Neal and/or Tanya Eby?

No, I don't think so. The writing is good, but the storyline was rather boring - not that problems of the characters are boring, it was just something other writers have covered as well.

What three words best describe Tanya Eby’s voice?

she was ok.

Do you think How to Bake a Perfect Life needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

No

Any additional comments?

Glad I got it on sale

4 people found this helpful

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Nice, Easy Read with Recipes

I love when food becomes a character in a book. The story here was warm and sweet, and it was nice to have a relaxing read. Great narration, too.

1 person found this helpful

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Warm and toasty

Where does How to Bake a Perfect Life rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Toward the top of the list, it's about how decisions can change your life for the better and that you never know what will be around the next corner.

What was one of the most memorable moments of How to Bake a Perfect Life?

Jonah shows up in Ramona's life again and for good. It's funny how we have all these big dreams but sometimes you get something completely different.

What does Tanya Eby bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

The nuances of the character, I had a more emotional connection to the characters than if I just read the book.

If you could rename How to Bake a Perfect Life, what would you call it?

Where the road will take you.

Any additional comments?

I love the actual recipes in the story.

1 person found this helpful

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ONE OF MY FAVORITES OF 2022

I just loved this book. I enjoyed how each of the characters were developed. The author wrote in such a way, that I just fell right into the story. The family dynamics were very believable. I am very happy that I stumbled upon this book! It would be a great book to discuss at a book club! I highly recommend this story!

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Great story and lots of bread recipes

Very heartwarming story of family and new beginnings. Loved all the bread recipes in it.

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Enjoyable read

Love reading stories that bring together family, friends and foods that all warm the heart.

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Barbara is the Best!

Nobody writes a more soul satisfying novel than Barbara O’ Neal!! She is the best!!

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Loved it!!

I thoroughly enjoyed the storyline, characters and the narrator. I couldn’t wait until time would allow me to listen. I will definitely look into more books by this author and narrator.

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Any book about food and love... I'm hooked!

Any story that is surrounded by food, baking, love and relationships and I'm hooked. So here I'm a little biased. Well written with believable characters, the only thing is that the male voices do sound like Scooby Doo... A bit too Goofy to be taken seriously. A bit off putting when your're trying to imagine a serious moment and Scooby starts talking.

Apart from this and if you can overlook this small issue, the overall story is good, with poignant moments between other and daughter.

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  • Jacquie88
  • 01-17-21

Great story of complicated relationships

O'Neil waves another great story of the composted nature of relationships and the strong bonds of women thrifty generations. Her love of food is captured through the baking of bread - you may find yourself craving fresh baked bread. And of course, there are three stories of love. Heart warming and enjoyable story telling. Perfect performance by the storyteller.