The North Star Bakery has been in Hope’s family for generations, the secret recipes passed down from mother to daughter. But at thirty-six and recently divorced, with rebellious daughter Annie and elderly grandmother Rose to care for, Hope is less than enthusiastic about carrying on the family legacy. When the bakery runs into financial trouble and Rose takes a turn for the worse, Hope’s delicate balancing act is in danger of crumbling entirely.
Then Rose reveals a shocking truth about her past and everything Hope thought she knew about her family and the bakery is turned upside down. At her grandmother’s request, Hope travels to Paris, armed only with a mysterious list of names. What she uncovers there could be the key to saving the bakery and the fulfilment of a star-crossed romance, seventy years in the making.
My favourite book growing up was The Diary Of Anne Frank, so I’ve always wanted to write a novel set partially around the Holocaust. It’s been brewing in my mind for years and went from being a story about a man searching for his long-lost love to a story centered around family, faith, memories, Alzheimer’s and learning to love again. This book is a real change for me and represents the future of my career.
Thank you to Quercus for kindly sending me a copy of this beautiful novel. In December, I read The Snow Globe which read made me enjoy Kristin’s work. My friend Louise was interested to read Kristin’s book so after Quercus sent me another copy, I forwarded it onto Louise and we’ve decided to join forces to do a combined review. You can find Louise on Twitter: @jaustenrulesok
L: The Sweetness of Forgetting opens with Hope who has returned to her home town to continue to run her family’s bakery. She is feeling rather disillusioned with her life as she is the mother to a teenage daughter who seems intent on hating Hope and blaming her for her parents’ divorce. The bakery is in danger of failing due to missed loan repayments and she has had to reluctantly put her grandmother in a memory care home due to Alzheimer’s and again Hope feels this is a part of her life where she has failed. After a trip to visit Rose (her grandmother) at the care home, Hope sets of to Paris with a list of names that Rose has given to her so she can find out what happened to these people. It is here that Hope begins a journey of discovery. She discovers many unknown secrets about Rose and her own mother, Josephine who has recently died of breast cancer. Whilst on this journey Hope also discovers how to make peace with her own past and becomes determined not to repeat the mistakes of her mother and grandmother.
E: The opening chapter sets the narrative up beautifully. Readers learn that Holly is a divorced mother of a teenage girl. We’re then quickly introduced to two male characters and instantly, I’m trying to guess who Holly will fall in love with by the final chapter. Matt was her boyfriend in high school and there is a lot of history there, not only that but he’s concerned about her financially. Then we have Gavin who Holly hires to help fix things with obviously need fixing. For me, I was team Matt all the way!
L: This is a fantastic read filled with mystery, secrets discovered and love that never gives up hope. It made me cry towards the end and I was so sorry to close the book and leave the characters behind. It is a wonderful blend of historical storytelling and the after effects that are felt in the present day and I really enjoyed the fact that the historical element of the story was quite enlightening in that I learned some history about elements of resistance in Paris and Europe during the Second World War that I wasn’t familiar with.
E: The historical side of the narrative unfolds and it entwined with the love story beautifully. I can’t possibly find the words of how much I adored this novel. Historical romance, for me, is sometimes a hit and a miss depending on the era but this was just stunning. Like all food related novels, there is the extra input of the recipes which I absolutely love and the family bakery, The North Star, which Holly runs single handedly (sometimes with the help of her moody daughter who says ‘like’ a lot) was described as if it was just around the corner.
L: A wonderfully warm, joyful and heartbreaking novel that also includes some recipes that I am quite keen to experiment with and after looking on Amazon I have discovered that the author has published an e-novella which is a prequel to this book called The Snow Globe. I am off to read it now!