The painstaking process of mixing, kneading, and baking bread may not seem an apt pastime for a woman as acerbic and impulsive as Wynter Morrison. Since graduation from college she has bounced from job to job and man to man, finally ending up as a
trophy wife in a posh Los Angeles suburb. She drives a nice car, eats at elegant restaurants, dresses in
beautiful clothes, and rubs elbows with high society. But it soon becomes clear that she's been floating through this life. She's happier in jeans than in Chanel, likes walking in the rain more than sitting in traffic, and would rather tear into a hot loaf of sourdough than pick at a fancy salad.
It takes a hurtful wakeup call from her husband to make Wynter aware that their life together is not working. It also takes more than a few self-destructive drinking binges, tantrums, and harsh words for Wyn to realize that the people who truly love her aren't always going to tell her what she wants to hear. Finally, it takes the pain, and then comfort, of solitude to show Wyn that she can be beautiful even in a
flour-covered apron; that she can turn an empty shack into a home; that settling into an easy relationship can feel like a "mink padded cell"; that her father wasn't the prince she thought he was; that she and her mother are two different people; and that she can find peace and satisfaction in a job where she is needed and appreciated.
is a novel every woman can savor and learn from. It's filled with recipes for happiness, as well as for delicious foods, and it's made even more irresistible by a secret ingredient: a headstrong,
sharp-witted heroine who's as rewarding and real as a loaf of truly good bread.
About the Author:
- Why do you think Wynter let her marriage to David devolve into a state in which the two were barely communicating with each other? Why
didn't she try to improve the relationship earlier?
- Why does David's request that Wynter move out come as such a shock? Why does she try so hard to keep their relationship together?
- How did Wynter's revelation about her parents' marriage change her views toward her father and her mother? What effect might the knowledge of her father's affair have had on her decisions
regarding her divorce settlement and on her
relationships with Gary and Mac?
- Wynter bakes bread as a panacea for heartache and depression. Why do you think she finds this process so therapeutic? Do you have any rituals or hobbies you turn to when you are feeling blue? Why and how do they help you?
- During Wynter's apprenticeship in France she receives some advice from Jean-Marc, the
bakery's owner: "You do not tell the bread what
to do. It tells you. You know from the way it
looks, the way it feels, the smell, the taste.
How warm, how cold. How wet, how dry."
How might Wynter apply this knowledge to her life?
- Wynter holds back from telling CM that her
marriage to Neil is a mistake. Why do you think she doesn't say anything to CM? Do you think she would have been as perceptive about that relationship while she was still with David?
- Hendricks ends her novel with the promise of romance for Wynter. If the novel hadn't ended this way -- if, for instance, Wynter had found Mac in the cabin with another woman -- how do you think Wynter would cope? How would it change your feelings about the novel?
- How would you describe the process of baking bread as a metaphor for life?
Judith Ryan Hendricks worked as a copywriter,
journalist, computer instructor, travel agent, and waitress before landing at Seattle's McGraw Street Bakery, where she fell in love with the rhythm of baking. Hendricks now lives in Long Beach, California, with her husband, Geoff. Bread Alone
is her first novel.
Reading and Eating Groups -- One of the author's favorite recipes is Ellens Cornmeal Cookies.
About Judith R. Hendricks