Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The City Baker's Guide to Country Living with The Novel Bakers

Who can resist a novel that opens with baked Alaska and a flambeed restaurant? I wouldn't even try! I was smitten the moment I read the first sentence to The City Baker's Guide to Country Living, a debut novel by Louise Miller:
The night I lit the Emerson Club on fire had been perfect for making meringue.

"Mix in one part Diane Mott Davidson's delightful culinary adventures with several tablespoons of Jan Karon's country living and quirky characters, bake at 350 degrees for one rich and warm romance."
--Library Journal

From the first page, I was charmed and captivated by this darling novel.

"When Olivia Rawlings--purple haired pastry chef extraordinaire for an exclusive Boston dinner club--sets not just her flambe' dessert but the entire building alight, she escapes to the most comforting place she can think of--the idyllic town of Guthrie, Vermont, home of Bag Balm, the country's longest-running contra dance, and her best friend, Hannah. But the getaway turns into something more lasting when the cantankerous, sweater-set-wearing owner of the Sugar Maple Inn, asks Livvy to bake an apple pie, then offers her a job. Broke and suspecting that her days at the club might be numbered, Livvy accepts."

After Livvy moves into the sugarhouse with her Irish wolfhound mix, Salty, she begins creating mouthwatering desserts for the residents of Guthrie.

Livvy also realizes the true reason she'd been hired--to help Margaret reclaim the inn's blue ribbon status at the annual county fair apple pie contest.

  With the joys of a fragrant kitchen, the sound of banjos and fiddles being tuned in a barn, and the crisp scent of the orchard just outside the front door, Livvy soon finds herself immersed in small town life. And when she meets Martin McCracken, the Guthrie native who has returned from Seattle to tend to his ailing father, Livvy comes to understand that she may not be as alone in the world as she once thought.
"The life you want may not be the one you expected--it could be even better."

The City Baker's Guide to Country Living is a full-hearted novel about discovering the true meaning of home--and that sometimes the best things are found when you didn't even know you were looking.

I adored this novel. The characters leaped off the page, and Louise's words are so evocative, I could smell the apple pies baking in her oven. I wanted to sample every dessert on the menu. 

The author, Louise Miller, is a pastry chef who lives and works in Boston, MA. She is an art school drop out, an amateur flower gardener, an old-time banjo player, an obsessive moviegoer, and a champion of old dogs. You can find her blog on Tumblr. To learn about upcoming book signings, visit her at Twitter and Penguin/Random House.

The City Baker's Guide to Country Living was selected by Indie Next as an August pick, and it was included in LibraryReads Top Ten List for August 2016. Rave reviews have poured in. The novel has been praised by Elle Magazine as one of the 11 best novels to read in August, and Real Simple Magazine chose it as one of the best new books to read.

If you love to bake, if you love to dream about baking, then you will adore this book. The author gives little baking tips along the way, and her recipe for apple pie is applause-worthy (it's included in the back of the book).

I'm joining the marvelous Novel Bakers to celebrate the publication of this charming book. I can't wait to see their edible reviews.  Visit
Jain at a quiet life
Mary at Home Is Where the Boat Is
Linda at More Fun Less Laundry

Barnes and Noble
Indie Next August 2016 List
Louise Miller -- Tumblr
Penguin/Random House


  1. Oh I love your table centerpiece with the glass bottles and hydrangeas and sunflowers! Your shots with the sunlight streaming in highlighting the apples and glass bottles on your table are wonderful...your porch is a perfect spot to dine too. I actually gasped in delight at the one photo with shadows from the chairs.

    I bet the men in your house were happy for you to be Novel Baking again! I'd forgotten how much fun this was too. Didn't you love the book? Livvy, the inn, the setting, cranky Margaret and those McCrackens... they could be distant relatives with the spelling of their last name. :) It's been a long time since I've wanted to curl up with a book. Now I'm ready for a slice of apple pie!

  2. Oh, this sounds like one I would love. Thanks for the review.

  3. Michael Lee, I also loved reading this book and could devour every food item so well described in it! Your photos do make me want to sit there and dream about baking and also to enjoy some of your goodies. The centerpieces would be perfect for the Sugar Maple Inn and I can imagine Livvy attacking those gorgeous apples in her quest to perfect the pie! Loved joining you and the other Novel Bakers for this wonderful book. Linda

  4. Well, you talked me into it! I am checking to make sure my library has this book!!!

  5. This looks like a great read. So happy that the Novel Bakers are back! I'll need to order the book. Library doesn't have it. Your photos are gorgeous. I want to sit at that lovely table and gaze out your window. Beautiful, beautiful setting, Michael Lee. I think I need to get in the kitchen and bake a pie.

  6. I am so looking forward to reading this book, Michael Lee! Your setting is just beautiful...I'm sighing over your black ladder back chairs, your aqua tablecloths, the cute bowls filled with apples, the center pieces, and of course, the apple pie on the wooden platter. I guess I'll have to whip up an apple pie to satisfy my cravings. Thanks for the delicious review!

  7. It's been a long time since I have oogled your pics! Your pictures and setting are so pretty, my cheeks are apple sized themselves with nothing but giant grins! I wanted ribbons too, always love seeing the perfect props! I adore your colors, you could be seaside ;-) you captured the book beautifully, thanks so much for coming out to play!

  8. Hi ML!
    You make me want to read the book! Too tempting for me, have to stay away from baking! I only bake when the gkids put in their requests and whisk it away with them!
    Hope all is well with you! Love reading what you, Mary and Linda are reading and baking!
    September will be apple picking time here. Not thinking Fall yet, lots of beautiful summer days at the ocean left! I'll take it!

  9. After reading your review, I'm in. Sounds devine and delicious. Love the tablescape, great photos.

  10. The book sounds delicious and your photographs are divine.

  11. Oh I love your centerpiece! I would also love a piece of pie ;-) Everything looks fantastic.

  12. This is definitely going on my to-read list! Love your pictures accompanying your review!

  13. The book sounds right up my alley Michael Lee, and your beautiful photos and vignettes heightened the drama of your descriptions. The bounty of apples and sunflowers in your post makes me want to run to an orchard, fill my basket and start baking! The Novel Bakers always take us to wonderful places and introduce us to magical characters, not to mention delicious recipes to top everything off! Thank you for the special peek into this book, I hope to get my nose in it soon :)

  14. I am ordering off Amazon...and I'm going to make an Apple pie tomorrow...

  15. That centerpiece is amazing! Great photos!

  16. What a delight to be able to hop from one Novel Baker to another and get all your takes on the same book. You inspire me. Beautiful post, Michael Lee.

  17. this post is so beautiful! I am so honored by this, and all of The Novel Baker's posts about The City Baker's Guide to Country Living! These blog posts have been one of the most delightful surprises of my book launch. I am so blown away by all of your talent, and these lovingly created tableaus. I'm writing a post for my blog about these posts--please let me know if I could reproduce one of your images to include next to a link to your blog. I want to share them with everyone!

    1. I'd absolutely be thrilled and honored--please feel free to use any image.

    2. I'd absolutely be thrilled and honored--please feel free to use any image.

  18. I want to live in that fabulous world you styled for that fabulous living described from that novel! Beautiful!

  19. Michael Lee, your styling and photography are excellent. I need to study your styling!
    Love your centerpiece of hydrangeas, limelights and sunflowers. Such a great combination and the perfect container.
    Lots to pin here today. Great post.