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The Baker's Apprentice

By Judith Ryan Hendricks

     Judith Ryan Hendricks, the acclaimed author of Bread Alone, continues the saga of Wynter "Wyn" Morrisson and the Queen Street Bakery in Seattle, Washington. Wyn's new career of baking bread and having part ownership of the Queen Street Bakery have brought her a satisfaction that she never knew in her previous life. Sure, working the night shift at the bakery can be grueling, and the bakery is not a goldmine. Nonetheless, Wyn finds the art of bread making thoroughly satisfying. Wyn's bread making is showcased in The Baker's Apprentice, which is full of delectable recipes and descriptions of baking techniques, while the author continues on in the next chapter of Wyn's life in this sequel.

     In addition to making bread and running the bakery with her business partner Ellen, Wyn is in love with Mac, her bartender/writer friend-turned-lover. Wyn and Mac are unofficially a couple, and they are exploring the possibilities of where their relationship may lead. However, Wyn realizes that roadblocks are in the way. Mac is unable to deal with past issues from his childhood. As a result, he tends to be uncommunicative with Wyn at times, and his past has somehow festered into the present. Wyn herself is still in the midst of a messy divorce and is under financial strain due to her husband's stalling on the financial issues. When the pressure becomes too much, Mac makes a sudden decision to head to Alaska to be alone, and the bakery has its own conflicts and unexpected happenings, leaving Wyn reeling and frustrated.

     Meanwhile, Wyn tries to console and mentor a young employee, Tyler, and run the bakery. She has little time to think about Mac and the fact that he ran off "to find himself." These days, Wyn finds happiness in her friendship with CM, helping Tyler, and perfecting the art of making bread. Letters from Mac stream in gradually, and Mac reveals more of himself to Wyn. Wyn is on a path of self-discovery, too, as she passes on the satisfaction and wisdom of bread making to Tyler, and Wyn's strength and character are put to a test when the future of the Queen Street Bakery becomes uncertain. Mac's eventual return to Seattle is another test for Wyn, as well, when she realizes that not only has Mac changed, but she has, too. The Baker's Apprentice is a delightful read that is thought provoking, poignant and engrossing. Fans of Bread Alone will not want to miss the sequel and I highly recommend this series to fans of contemporary fiction.

The Book

William Morrow / HarperCollins
April 1, 2005
Contemporary fiction
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The Reviewer

Shannon I. Bigham
Reviewed 2005
© 2005