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.
My Thoughts: I’m forewarning you now, this is not a light fluffy read. I thought it was going to be. After all, it has my two favorite elements: a woman who becomes reacquainted with the man she fell in love with when she was seventeen, and food. I thought it would be cozy read for a Sunday afternoon. And it was, to a point, until chapter fifteen.
The story starts off in Betty’s point of view. Knowing there’s something wrong with her health, she purchases tickets for her daughter Julie and Michael, the man she never got over, to attend three dessert classes by a local chef. Julie fell in love with Michael as a teenager, but nothing ever came of it. They did remain friends, however, until a work-related snag kept them from speaking for the past six years.
The tale is told in the first-person from Julie’s point of view. Now in her forties, Julie is a single mom on a career path at a local news station. She doesn’t date, and devotes any of her free time to her family; either her daughter, or her parents who share a duplex she purchased so that she could be close by in case she was ever needed in a hurry. She is the typical middle-aged woman, trying to juggle a teenage daughter along with the responsibilities of caring for two aging parents, all the while attempting to have a successful career that at the very least pays the bills.
Michael and Julie’s relationship was very well written. I enjoyed watching them become reacquainted and tenuously rebuild a friendship that had been fractured six years ago. Add to that the fact that Michael is the one that Julie never got over and it’s a great story.
There are things that happen in this book that I’m not going to divulge here ~ I just don’t want to take away from the story. The title of the book says it all. Sweet Love It’s not just a romance. It’s unrequited love, it’s familial, it’s friendship, it’s history, it’s food, it’s just life in general. Love isn’t always the roses; sometimes it’s about the thorns and what makes us stronger.
Verdict: The story was Excellent. I’ve never read Sarah Strohmeyer before, but I’ve been impressed. I’ve heard this is her best work to date, and though I haven’t read any of her other work, I’m not about to dispute it. This is a powerful story that touches on so many factors. Read it. You won’t be disappointed.