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  General Fiction Reviews  

Friendship Cake
By Lynne Hinton
HarperSanFrancisco, 2000.
ISBN: 0-688-17147-8

 

The women of Hope Spring Community Church decide to publish a cookbook as a means to save the Womenís Guild, but in the end these five different women form a friendship exhibiting characteristics of loyalty, trust, humor and faith. 

In the beginning, no one sees a point in Beatrice Newgardenís plan to put a cookbook together.  Each member of the cookbook committee has their own private problems and feels the cookbook project is a nuisance they rather add on to their load.  Yet as time passes, they learn to share their burdens and find others willing to help carry the load.   

Louise Fisher is thought to be a lesbian by the community.  She does have passionate feelings for her best friend Roxie, but Roxie chose marriage and children.  As Roxie begins to develop Alzheimerís, it becomes clear her husband does not wish to care for her and has started a new romance.  Louise brings Roxie home and becomes obsessed with her care.  As the cookbook committee learns of her situation, each finds a way to give support.

Jessie Jenkins is a black activist who joined the white church in the 1960ís as an act of rebellion.  The minister welcomed her, and soon she made the church her spiritual home.  Jessieís conflict is delaying her great plans for her grandson in light of his pregnant white girl friend.  The young couple is in love and plans to marry.  The cookbook committee aids Jesse through the tensions of an interracial marriage at the church, and their united actions bring the church body together in celebration. 

Rev. Charlotte Stewart is the churchís young pastor.  As a child, she found peace and order in the church in comparison to the chaos at home with her alcoholic mother.  Even after becoming a pastor and her motherís recovery, Charlotte rejects her motherís attempts to heal their relationship.  The cookbook committee and the death of a child show her how to work through lifeís upsets and forgive lifeís shortcomings.  

The two remaining members of the cookbook committee provide humor and reason to the story.  Margaret Peele is a teacher who acts as peacemaker and negotiator throughout the many conflicts.  The lighter moments come from Beatrice Newgarden, a bossy but well-meaning widow.  She expected to end her days staying with each of her childrenís families for extended visits.  Her children had other ideas.  Beatrice overcame her loneliness by becoming the cosmologist at the funeral home.  She saw her career as the perfect opportunity to make her clients look their best on their way out.  The only problem was that the bereaved families didnít appreciate their motherís dye hair and excessive make-up. 

Lynne Hinton in The Friendship Cake has gathered women with modern problems, added a dash of humor, a pinch of heartbreak and a full measure of faith.  After stirring well and baking, she leaves the reader with a smile and a strong belief in the kindness of others.

 
Joyce Dixon
Southern Scribe Reviews

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