Wynter Morrison is in a very good place in her life. She's content with her work at her Seattle bakery, baking bread during the serene night hours. Her lover, Mac, has recently reappeared in her life, to her intense joy.
But things start falling apart, bit by bit. One of the bakery's workers, blue-haired waif Tyler, attempts to make the new cake designer look bad, and ends up damaging the bakery's reputation. When Wynter agrees to take on a bread baker's apprentice during her night shift, she's dismayed when troubled Tyler steps into the role. Soon Tyler is smoking pot during her shift and complaining about having to do routine chores such as cleaning equipment and measuring flour.
Wynter begins to be bothered by certain aspects of her relationship with Mac. She wonders why Mac refuses to talk to her about his childhood and why the role he assumes among her friends strikes her as false. When Wynter asks Mac to go home to her mother's with her at Christmas, she knows he won't come --- and he doesn't. Their own Christmas celebration is a disheartening bust. Needless to say, Mac never utters the words "relationship" or "commitment."
Wynter develops tendonitis in her wrist. With bread making impossible, can she rely on Tyler? Well --- yes, as a matter of fact. Tyler amazes Wynter by rapidly becoming an expert and enraptured bread maker. This cheers Wynter in the face of her continuing divorce problems and her accompanying financial woes.
Mac heads into the sunset suddenly, stating he needs time to himself. His meandering plus car troubles land him in the Yukon, where he writes strangely impersonal letters to Wynter. Mac's hurried leave-taking and his frosty letters devastate Wynter, but when an event in Tyler's life plunges her into grief, Wynter finds comfort in consoling her. Mac's absence lessens in importance as Wynter continues creating a family of her own in Seattle. Evidently, the Mac chapter of her life is closed forever. Or is it?
THE BAKER'S APPRENTICE is leisurely and full of description. The pace of the plot slows a bit at times, and there are so many characters that I occasionally lost track of who they were. Yet, as soon as I'd think, "Isn't this dragging a bit?" I'd happily delve back into Wynter's world of food and plants and friendship and love. In fact, I unhurriedly devoured this feast of a story the way I'd savor a prolonged meal at a gourmet restaurant --- one luscious tidbit at a time. So snuggle down in front of the fireplace with a big cup of tea and a cappuccino hazelnut scone (the recipe is in the book!) and settle in for a cozy and satisfying read.
Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon on December 22, 2010
The Baker's Apprentice