The Recipe Box

The Recipe Box

by Viola Shipman
Setting: Michigan
Genres: Fiction / Women
Published on March 20, 2018
Pages: 336
Format: eBook Source: Library

Growing up in northern Michigan, Samantha “Sam” Mullins felt trapped on her family’s orchard and pie shop, so she left with dreams of making her own mark in the world. But life as an overworked, undervalued sous chef at a reality star’s New York bakery is not what Sam dreamed.

When the chef embarrasses Sam, she quits and returns home. Unemployed, single, and defeated, she spends a summer working on her family’s orchard cooking and baking alongside the women in her life—including her mother, Deana, and grandmother, Willo. One beloved, flour-flecked, ink-smeared recipe at a time, Sam begins to learn about and understand the women in her life, her family’s history, and her passion for food through their treasured recipe box.

As Sam discovers what matters most she opens her heart to a man she left behind, but who now might be the key to her happiness.

I saw this book in a blog posts of books set in Michigan. It seemed to be a perfect light Foodies Read book.

Sam is a pastry chef living in New York. She works for a celebrity chef who is pretty abusive to his staff. After a final blowup with him, she heads back to her family’s orchard in Michigan for an anniversary celebration.

Here’s she’s forced to face her family’s history head on for the first time as an adult. Previously all she wanted to do was get away. Now she is having to humble herself and see that she has things to learn from everyone. The women who make the pie crusts aren’t culinary school trained but they know what they are doing. Her mother and grandmother have been running a successful business for generations.

The story is told in alternating chapters of Sam’s present day story and then flashbacks to her ancestors lives. I usually like alternating perspectives but this book was a bit jarring. You’d start reading a flashback without a clear transition. Usually it didn’t appear to have anything to do with what you were just reading so you weren’t sure where it was going. Eventually it would tie together with the present day story but it took a while. It felt like reading long diversions from the true narrative.

There are a lot of recipes in this book for pies and cakes and cookies.