Julie Mueller is a forty something single mother of a teenage daughter, Em. It's not like Em's father was the love of Julie's life but he was the guy who got her pregnant in her 20s so she needed to get married, at least according to Julie's mother. Julie's marriage didn't last past when Em turned 9 months. The guy she has always loved, Michael Slayton, has moved back to town. They're not talking due to a disagreement 6 years prior. Michael is Julie's brother's best friend from childhood and when Julie was 17 and Michael was 21, Julie tried to seduce him. Unknown to her, her mother and brother had already threatened Michael if he even thought about doing anything with Julie. Julie is also trying to get a national news job but the younger woman in the office is what the network seems to want.
Michael is a dreamer who loves Shakespeare. He's also a lawyer. He's loved Julie since she was a child but out of love and respect of her mother and brother, he hasn't acted on it. Michael didn't marry until after he heard Julie did and divorced shortly after she did.
Julie's mother realizes the mistake she made so many years ago. Julie has never been as happy as when she was with Michael, even as a friend. She wants them to get together but doesn't want to be too obvious. Her solution was giving Julie cooking classes that she knew Michael would be taking even though she knows that Julie doesn't cook. The plan sounds great until Michael attends class with a beautiful blonde.
This book illustrates wonderfully several issues that people face.
Julie is dealing with being sandwiched. She needs to take care of her teenage daughter who is learning to drive and she needs to do more for her aging parents. This becomes a balancing act as each deserves and requires her time.
Julie also deals with America's need for youth when she tries for a network job covering the elections. She is seen as getting up there in years while a younger female co-worker is seen as a hard core journalist. Julie is also seen as being biased when on her own time she takes a cobbler to a woman she had been doing a story about. Julie's told that she is loosing her edge. The younger co-worker was trying to get the woman to confess to killing her daughter.
Max is a homeless guy that Julie passes on the street every day. Michael befriends him and Julie realizes that in today's society homeless aren't even seen any more except as nuisances. She starts talking to Max and finds that the police instead of asking Max if he killed the woman's daughter should have asked did he see whom she left with.
Julie also becomes a role model for her daughter. So often, young people don't see their parents as being adventurous or willing to make changes. When Julie looks to quit her steady job for a once in a lifetime opportunity her daughter is impressed that there is life after forty.
Still, with everything going on in Julie's life, will Michael and her get back together? Who is that blonde and what is her relationship to Michael? And why does she call him to come over if there is nothing there? While Julie's learning to make tasty things to eat, will she also learn what is important in her life and will she have the courage to act on what she sees?
An irresistibly delicious novel about the power of love… and dessert.
Like other well-meaning mothers, Julie Mueller’s believed she did the right thing when she secretly ended her teenage daughter’s crush on Michael Slayton, a wild older neighborhood heartthrob with a penchant for Shakespeare and the pedigree of trailer trash.
Twenty years later, Betty Mueller has come to realize that was a big mistake. Her daughter Julie – divorced and raising a teenage daughter alone – is a workaholic obsessed with her career. And Michael, the one man who could make her happy, is the one man to whom she won’t speak.
Now dying and determined to make amends, Betty stages her last great feat of motherhood by reuniting the couple in a dessert class where she hopes the sweetness of a chocolate almond Torta Caprese will erase the bitterness of a wretched misunderstanding.
“Sweet love, renew thy force; be it not said thy edge should blunter be than appetite,” Shakespeare once pleaded - though it will require more than poetry and passion fruit for Julie and Michael to renew their love.
It will, in fact, require the sweetest sacrifice of all.