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Women's Fiction Review    


Eat Cake
by Jeanne Ray
Shaye Areheart Books, 2003
(a division of Random House)
Hardcover $21.00 (272 pages)
ISBN: 0-609-61004-X

Jeanne Ray writes the kind of books best friends share with one another. All three of her novels -- Julie and Romeo, Step*Ball*Change, and Eat Cake -- revolve around women whose lives are in transition through no fault of their own.

Other women may focus on beaches, mountains or lakes when they meditate, Ruth imagines herself in the center of a bundt cake where the aromas of spice and warmth of the cake offer her comfort on bad days.  And Ruth has had some bad days lately. Baking cakes offers her only form of solace.

Her mother, until recently a self-sufficient music teacher, moved in with Ruth's family after being robbed during daylight hours. Her husband, who has always been her rock, is suddenly unemployed and dreaming of remodeling sailboats for a living. Her teenage daughter, Camille, is complaining about all the cakes in the house and spending more time in her room.  Just when Ruth's house is filled to capacity and her nerves feel their most frayed, her father. a lounge singer who left her mother years ago, calls. He's in the hospital with two broken wrists and no place to call home.

Ruth, worries and bakes, then bakes and worries, as she tries to balance the needs of her expanded and battling family. She sees baking cakes as her inner need to nurture her family made manifest. After all, a little cake never hurt anybody.

In Eat Cake, Jeanne Ray has created amiable, interesting characters whose daily lives offer a gentle glance at what it means to be a family in transition. Eat Cake is whimsical and charming.

Pam Kingsbury
Southern Scribe Reviews

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