The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living


Narrator: Jorjeana Marie

Penguin Random House Audio/Penguin Audio
Genre: Fiction – Contemporary Women
Release Date: August 09, 2016
10 Hours and 30 Minutes

Audiofile provided by publisher for review. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.




When Olivia Rawlings—pastry chef extraordinaire for an exclusive Boston dinner club—sets not just her flambéed dessert but the entire building alight, she escapes to the most comforting place she can think of—the idyllic town of Guthrie, Vermont, home of Bag Balm, the country’s longest-running contra dance, and her best friend Hannah. But the getaway turns into something more lasting when Margaret Hurley, the cantankerous, sweater-set-wearing owner of the Sugar Maple Inn, offers Livvy a job. Broke and knowing that her days at the club are numbered, Livvy accepts.

Livvy moves with her larger-than-life, uberenthusiastic dog, Salty, into a sugarhouse on the inn’s property and begins creating her mouthwatering desserts for the residents of Guthrie. She soon uncovers the real reason she has been hired—to help Margaret reclaim the inn’s blue ribbon status at the annual county fair apple pie contest.
With the joys of a fragrant kitchen, the sound of banjos and fiddles being tuned in a barn, and the crisp scent of the orchard just outside the front door, Livvy soon finds herself immersed in small town life. And when she meets Martin McCracken, the Guthrie native who has returned from Seattle to tend his ailing father, Livvy  comes to understand that she may not be as alone in this world as she once thought.
But then another new arrival takes the community by surprise, and Livvy must decide whether to do what she does best and flee—or stay and finally discover what it means to belong. Olivia Rawlings may finally find out that the life you want may not be the one you expected—it could be even better. – See more at:

My Take Oblong Shaped
All New Englanders are either folksy and sweet, or recalcitrant, hard and emotionally repressed. They’re all business all hard and stiff-upper-lip, or all soft and gooey.  And Vermont is the shining city on the hill where all truth is revealed and wherein all honesty becomes evident.

The main character is a New Englander too,  but she’s also from a big city and a big time baker. That’s not quite the same as the mountains of Vermont where the main industries nearly always include tree farms, cozy inns and maple syrup.  City girls are more urbane and more likely to be having affairs with men MUCH older than they are.  Said baker is also likely to run after an accident and will also be likely to  end up working for the difficult, emotionally repressed and bitchy New Englander while being adopted by the cute and cuddly family.  All the while she will seduce the public in the small Vermont town in which she  takes refuge with her desserts and muffins.

This is more like a fairy tale or a parable in which I strongly felt the author was combining the elements of the popular Marie Force Green Mountain series and Alice Clayton’s Hudson Valley series. 

I enjoy kitchen tales but I didn’t find much to like in this one.  The narration was fine and wasn’t where I had issues.  I do believe a good portion of its message involved self-esteem and abandonment issues.  But that got lost in the sterotypical way the good people of Vermont are portrayed. I also felt as if I had skipped a chapter regarding her affair.

I just didn’t find it original – which a piece of women’s fiction with romantic elements should.  Who knows wherein the lack of originality in fiction lies?  I would call this more a bottle of imitation maple syrup rather than the real deal.

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