THE BAKER’S APPRENTICE by Judith Ryan Hendricks


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A sequel of sorts to Hendricks’s anemic Bread Alone (2003) features the same implausible characters.

Wynter Morrison, once the miserable wife of a rich man, now kneads bread in a hip bakery and flirts with disaster in the form of Mac, a freewheeling bartender. Of course he loves her. Doesn’t he show up every once in a while to kiss her six ways from Sunday and pick globs of dough out of her disheveled hair? Who could ask for anything more? Not Wynter. She happily tends to the needs of the baker’s regulars, like old Mrs. Gunnerson, who complains there aren’t any doughnuts and packs her own teabag. The brand is duly noted, along with much other trivia that studs the practically nonexistent plot. Yet Wynter’s days aren’t uneventful: the bakery toilet has a broken link in the flapper-valve chain. Its dangling ends must be reconnected somehow (“I go back to the register to get a paper clip”). There are no bananas. And still no plot. The tide of Seattle life flows through the neighborhood: starving artists, a merchant marine contingent, thrift-shop patrons, the homeless, a few punkers, an occasional condo resident. Mac heads for the Yukon and writes back about the austere glory of the country where everyone goes to get lost—but, hey, he wants to find himself, a search aided by aging hippie queen Rhiannon Blue, who sells mooseburgers and reads tarot cards. Should he go back to Seattle? Every time he eats bread, he thinks of Wyn. But a man must do what a man must do—whatever that is. Lackluster atmosphere still doesn’t make up for lack of a plot. Wynter frets: Did he leave because she was pushy, controlling, emotional? Maybe she can chat with her glamorpuss girlfriend CM or straighten out Tyler, a troubled teenager who serves in the shop. Uh-oh. The bakery’s building is for sale. Can gentrification be far off?

A whole-grain never-never-land romance of amiable stereotypes.

Pub Date: April 1st, 2005
ISBN: 0-06-072617-2
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 2004