Friday, June 28, 2013

The Union Street Bakery by Mary Ellen Taylor

Title: The Union Street Bakery
Author: Mary Ellen Taylor

Publisher: Berkley Trade

Published Date: February 5, 2013

Buy on Amazon: Paperback & Kindle

Author Website:


Life can turn on a dime. It’s a common clich√©, and I’d heard it often enough. People die or move away. Investments go south. Affairs end. Loved ones betray us...Stuff happens.

Daisy McCrae’s life is in tatters. She’s lost her job, broken up with her boyfriend, and has been reduced to living in the attic above her family’s store, the Union Street Bakery, while learning the business. Unfortunately, the bakery is in serious hardship. Making things worse is the constant feeling of not being a “real” McCrae since she was adopted as a child and has a less-than-perfect relationship with her two sisters.

Then a long-standing elderly customer passes away, and for some reason bequeaths Daisy a journal dating back to the 1850s, written by a slave girl named Susie. As she reads, Daisy learns more about her family—and her own heritage—than she ever dreamed. Haunted by dreams of the young Susie, who beckons Daisy to “find her,” she is compelled to look further into the past of the town and her family.

What she finds are the answers she has longed for her entire life, and a chance to begin again with the courage and desire she thought she lost for good.
My Thoughts:

Mary Ellen Taylor's The Union Street Bakery is a heartwarming and contemporary story that revolves around Daisy McCrae, a thirty something, out of work financial analyst that finds herself back at square one in life.  After Daisy's mother convinces her (over one to many daiquiris) to move back home and help manage the sinking family business, Daisy quickly starts spinning into a depression.  She has lost her high profile job in Washington DC, her fiancee, and everything that defined who she thought she was. 

Daisy left home after high school and said she would never work in the bakery again, yet here she is more than a decade later sleeping in her family's attic and rising before dawn to make dough.  Even worse, Daisy soon realizes that since her younger sister Rachel has taken over the bakery it is in dire financial straits.  Using her money management skills to rescue The Union Street Bakery is a full time job in itself. Just when Daisy thinks that life has thrown her all the curve balls she can handle, a startling secret from her past is brought to light and Daisy must decide if she is strong enough to unravel the mystery of who she truly is.

The Union Street Bakery has a unique mystery that is center stage throughout the novel.  Daisy has always felt like an outsider in the close knit McCrae family.  It is not a secret that when she was three years old her birth mother abandoned her sitting at a table at the McCrae's bakery.  The McCrae's adopted Daisy and tried to make her feel like part of the family, but growing up Daisy always felt like she didn't quite belong.  She had always wondered who her real birth mother and why she left her.  Quite unexpectedly, during her first week back at the bakery Daisy has a huge clue about her past given to her by an old customer, a 150 year old diary written by an area slave.  As Daisy starts to investigate, what she discovers will alter her and the McCrae's lives forever.     

I especially enjoyed reading about the relationship Daisy had with her two sisters, Rachel and Margaret.  Daisy has always felt close to Rachel, a talented baker and the one running the family business.  Margaret and Daisy, on the other hand, were always at odds with each other growing up and that has not changed as adults.  However, when Daisy needs someone to help her unravel the mystery of the diary, Margaret, as a historian, is at her side and a huge help.  Throughout the book Daisy and Margaret grow closer and develop a true sisterly relationship.

Mary Ellen Taylor's The Union Street Bakery is a wonderful story that will pique your interest from the first page and not let go until the last.  It has witty dialogue, realistic characters, and a mystery that will keep you guessing until the end.  This is definitely a book that I will recommend to friends and family!  I loved watching Daisy grow and discover just who she is as a person.  The ending of The Union Street Bakery was left rather open ended and I was thrilled to see that a sequel is being written called Sweet Expectations that is due out in November.  I am looking forward to reading more about Daisy and the McCrae's.  If you are looking for a tender and fantastically written novel, Taylor's book is for you!      

Mary Ellen Taylor

I have been provided a complimentary copy of the book, The Union Street Bakery, for the purpose of review.

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