There are several things I like in a book – romance, history, ghosts or hauntings, geneology and/or family history. In UNION STREET BAKERY I got them all! I picked up the book on a whim and once I started reading I couldn’t put it down.
The story centers on the Union Street Bakery in Alexandria, VA. For well over 150 years the bakery (or USB for short) has been in the McRae family. This is the place where sisters Rachel, Margaret, and Daisy have been brought up. The bakery has been the center of their early lives. Margaret is the historian in the family and is currently seeking her doctoral degree in archeology; Rachel and her husband have taken over the family business; and Daisy has graduated college and works in finance as vice-president of a prestigeous firm. The McRae parents have recently retired from running the bakery full time although they help out on occasion.
When the economy turns sour and Daisy loses her position in a corporate take-over she finds it difficult to find another job. Having tapped all of her savings to sustain her lifestyle while she searches for work, she agrees to help out her sister Rachel who husband passed away suddenly. When Daisy returns she finds the bakery in a downward spiral and on the verge of going broke. While baking is not her forte (she leaves that to Rachel) Daisy is most at home straightening out financial chaos – unlike other members of her family. Although she claims she will only be working at the bakery until she can land anotherfinance job, Daisy is pulled deeper into history when an elderly customer leaves her an old, leather-bound diary written by a slave girl.
The lynch-pin of the story is that Daisy is an adopted daughter. The McRae’s took her in after her real mother abandoned her at the bakery when she was merely three years old. Daisy has memories of that day and has a problem with getting too close to anyone for fear of them leaving her. Her insecurities are what drives her. But the old diary and its former owner hold the key to Daisy’s past. And when she receives a letter from a woman named Terry who she surmises is her birth mother, she agrees to meet the woman only to find out why she was abandoned all those years ago. Does she really want to know more about her birth mother? Can she hope to find comfort in the embrace of the woman who abandoned her? Will it make any difference in her life and her relationship with her sisters? And who is the ghost who shares Daisy’s attic room and who wants her gone?
This book had me hooked from the first page. The writing is crisp and moves the story along without bogging down in historical recollections. As with all families the connection between people is complicated and so it is in this book. But by story’s end I was satisfied with the outcome. It’s an easy to read book that you’ll enjoy – it even comes with recipes at the end for some of those delicious treats that you’ll drool over as you read. The second book in the series is due out in a few months.