It was probably inevitable that I read a book called “Eat Cake”, where the description on the back begins: “Ever since childhood, Ruth has found baking cakes to be a source of relief from the stresses of life.” Well, yeah. A novel with cake as stress relief? That’s the book for me. (Mmmmm, cake.)
So, Ruth is a 50-something housewife whose husband has a perfect job, whose 16-year-old daughter Camille doesn’t talk to her except in anger, and whose mother has been living with them for a year ever since her house was broken in to. Things are going pretty well when she gets a double life-whammy: her husband gets laid off from his high-paying job, and her estranged father breaks both his wrists and comes to live with her family. So, of course chaos — and cake — ensues.
The plot itself is a feel-good-and-find-your-purpose-in-life one, nothing deep, or spectacular. It’s just a fun ride. I probably would have been more moved by it if I had read it a couple years ago. But I found this book to be YUMMY. Jeanne Ray just knows how to describe cake. The whole act of choosing which cake to bake, baking it serving it, eating it… it becomes an art form. While I’m probably not even going to attempt any one of the dozen cake recipes in back (no one else would eat them, and I DO NOT need a whole cake to myself), I loved reading about them. Ray should write more food-based books, because she does that part so well.
I’ll leave you with my favorite passage in the book:
Cakes have gotten a bad rap. People equate virtue with turning down dessert. There is always one person at the table who holds up her hand when I serve the cake. No, really, I couldn’t, she says, and then gives her flat stomach a conspiratorial little pat. Everyone who is pressing a fork into that first tender layer looks at the person who declines the plate, and they all think, That person is better than I am. That person has discipline. But that isn’t a person with discipline, that is a person who has completely lost touch with joy. A slice of cake never made anybody fat. You don’t eat the whole cake. You don’t eat a cake every day of your life. You take the cake when it is offered because the cake is delicious. You have a slice of cake and what it reminds you of is someplace that’s safe, uncomplicated, without stress. A cake is a part, a birthday, a wedding. A cake is what’s served on the happiest days of your life.