A diverse group of bloggers become fast friends, sharing their passion for food and their thoughts via email.
RITA award winner O’Neal (The Garden of Happy Endings, 2012, etc.) features the bloggers' stories in a contemporary romance about damaged characters, heartache and new beginnings. Hoping to find the right successor on the eve of her 85th birthday, Lavender Willis summons members of the Foodie Four to a celebration at her Oregon farm. Lavender’s worried her nephews will sell the land to the wrong person after her death, and she wants to ensure the continuation of her organic enterprise. Although she feels healthy, something (perhaps those visions of her late friend?) is urging her to action. Her friends wish to honor their eldest member, so each blogger packs her emotional baggage, hitches up her trailer and heads to Lavender Honey Farms. There, the group interacts, engages in deep thoughts/discussions/soul searches, offers sage advice, cooks and plans for the party. Ruby, the pregnant youngest member who’s first to arrive, is a childhood leukemia survivor and strict vegan. She’s mourning the abrupt end of a relationship when she meets Noah, the military veteran who manages Lavender’s property. Former prima ballerina Valerie and her teenage daughter Hannah arrive next. They’re moving to San Diego to start anew after losing the rest of their family in a plane crash, and Hannah’s having a hard time coping with survivor’s guilt. Ginny, a housewife whose treatment by her family and friends reinforces her low self-esteem, arrives last. Craving independence, she embarks on the trip with her dog, but she soon discovers a few days’ practice hauling her vintage Airstream on flat Kansas roads near her home is poor preparation for the mountainous journey. Along the way, Ginny encounters treacherous elements, becomes ill and meets an intriguing trucker. O’Neal’s gentle narrative is sprinkled with gratuitous sexual content that seems out of character and context, but with the exception of a few head-scratching passages (a vegan recipe that includes Worcestershire Sauce, for example), those searching for an undemanding read will find this feel-good story satisfying.
Rather predictable, but it rings all the right bells.