Wednesday, December 26, 2012

TLC Book Review - Vanity Fare Dec. 26

Vanity Fare by Megan Caldwell
HarperCollins, 2013

Format? oversized paperback

Source? the publisher via TLC Book Tours
**FTC Disclosure - I received a complimentary copy of Vanity Fare from the publisher.  The following review and opinions are my own and offered without bias.

Why? a woman reinventing herself, literature, food and coffee...bring it.

Cover? I'm gonna be honest here...the cover is probably was drew me to this book in the first place...I have a weakness for pretty old books :)

Title? a literary play on words...which also happens to have pretty important meaning for the story.

What Now? I don't usually hold on to books like this...but this one really hit the spot for me.  I dove into Vanity Fare in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary school tragedy.  As a mother, I simply could not and still cannot imagine the depths of that community's pain...especially the families of the ones who were killed. 
I was numb for days...and I needed something to occupy my brain...I'm picky about women's lit. but Vanity Fare was perfect.  Enough wit, enough lit, enough likeable characters, enough believability and yes, even a happy ending, not perfect...but happy.
Sometimes we just need that.

Golden Lines

A Room of One's Scone
Take a moment - two moments, even - for yourself.  Remember how it felt, how it smelled, how it tasted to relax for five minutes with a deliciously creamy pastry just perfect for pairing with a cup of tea.  Remember what it was like before you did things like count carbohydrate grams and obsess over a teaspoon of butter? (31)

Midtown Manhattan. The library. I started to get all excited just thinking about it. (72)
"Simon won the James Beard award for Outstanding Pastry Chef two years running, he was named Best New Pastry Chef in Bon Appetit, he - "
"I get it.  Simon is a star. He won't be measuring flour." I really didn't need for him to make me feel any stupider. (75)

Dr. Lowell chuckled a little, then glanced at the clock on the table between us and edged forward on her seat.  "Your assignment for next week is twofold: figure out your limits for your date, and figure out how to solve your mother's problems so she can get out of your house.  She'll make you crazy, and I should know." (138)

 This was life. My life.  And I loved it, and deserved not to have to change it because my husband was a cheating asshole.  (189)

He loped up the last couple of steps and pulled me up against his chest, his scent immediately surrounding me.  I sniffed it all in while my arms crept around his waist.  Still holding me, he walked into my apartment and kicked the door closed.
"Finally" (393)


Molly's husband Hugh leaves her for a younger, sexier, more successful blonde.  With a degree in English literature and the past 6 years spent at home as a mommy, Molly knows she has to find a way to support herself and her son Aidan, especially after Hugh announces that his business has gone belly up.
Through a mutual friend of theirs, John, Molly gets involved in a copyediting opportunity on the ground floor of a brand new bakery positioned next to the NY Public Library.  Her task is to come up with a way to meld the two...come up with a gimmick of sorts to bring in the customers and satisfy the English baker, Simon, who accepts nothing but the best and is accustomed to having things his way.  Molly, Simon's partner Nick, and John put work out the professional details while Molly, her mom, her friends Keisha and Lissa as well as little Aidan, work on the personal.  And, then, of course, the personal and the professional intersect...
of course ;)
What I Liked

Classic literature is embedded everywhere in Vanity Fare...I loved that!
Molly is in therapy...and that's not a big deal.  Geez, we need so much more of this kind of attitude in the media.
 Molly is a sad divorcee and she is tempted to fall into some of the stereotypical pitfalls of her situation...but she doesn't. She is smart, she takes her life one day at a time (sometimes minutes at a time) and works to make it better.  She takes her life into her own hands and doesn't allow what someone else has done to her to define her. 

I keep telling  myself that I'm not a romantic...but I do like a little romance when it's wrapped up in a story like this one.  Real life romance on equal terms.

Even though this story has a couple of real winners in its female characters, there are several more who are true female friends.  We also need more of this in the world...more people who have our backs...through thick and through thin and over long periods of time.

What I Didn't Like

Simon - didn't like him from the first time he entered the story.

Hugh - what a whiner...that's all.

Natalie and Sylvia - why do women have to be such bitches to other women? Ridiculous.

Some of the humor at first was a little corny...but it grew on me as I got to know Molly. 
Overall Recommendation

If you need a quick feel good read in front of the fireplace with coffee (specifically a latte) and a mouth-watering pastry, and don't mind some girl talk as well as a few thumping hearts along the way, this is your next read.

 The Author

Other Stops on the Tour

Wednesday, December 26th: Peppermint PhD
Thursday, December 27th: Tiffany’s Bookshelf
Friday, December 28th: The Book Garden
Wednesday, January 2nd: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Thursday, January 3rd: My Bookshelf
Monday, January 7th: BookNAround
Wednesday, January 9th: girlichef
Thursday, January 10th: The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader
Monday, January 14th: Reflections of a Bookaholic
Tuesday, January 15th: Sweet Tidbits
Wednesday, January 16th: Proud Book Nerd


  1. I was tempted by this one too but couldn't fit it into my review schedule. Thanks for another great review!

  2. I'm like you - I don't read romance/chick lit very often but I don't mind romance in a story, if done well. This sounds like a perfect cosy read for this time of year.

  3. This sounds really interesting, thanks for the review!

  4. I'm glad you enjoyed this. It sounds good, and I like the fact that it refers to works of literature. Very nice review!

    1. It was a nice little twist, Susan, that really makes the book different :)

  5. I adored this book! It was exactly what I wanted at the time I read it. I really want to find a pastry shop like Vanity Fare. Correct that. I NEED one - we all do!

    1. ABSOLUTELY, Michelle!! I wonder if there's anything like it anywhere? If not, somebody ought to jump on that idea! :)

  6. I've been trying to get my hands on a review copy of this one, and THAT is a rarity these days. :) Looks great!

  7. I really want to read this one. I missed the tour and I'm bummed. Love the honest review.

    1. Holly, if you're in the mood for an afternoon or two of "literary ladies' lit," then it's worth it! :)

  8. I'm glad this book found you when it did ... sometimes we need to escape from the horrors of real life, and the right book can be the gateway to that escape.

    Thanks for being on the tour. I'm featuring your review on TLC's Facebook page today.

    1. Thanks, Heather :) Thank ya'll for having me on the tour! :)