Title: The Sweetness of Forgetting
Author: Kristin Harmel
Publisher: Gallery Books
Release Date: August 7, 2012
Acquired: Amazon Purchase
Date Finished: March 1, 2015
At thirty-six , Hope McKenna-Smith is no stranger to bad news. She lost her mother to cancer, her husband left her for a twenty-two year old, and her bank account is nearly depleted. Her own dreams of becoming a lawyer long gone, she’s running a failing family bakery on Cape Cod and raising a troubled preteen.
Now, Hope’s beloved French-born grandmother Mamie, who wowed the Cape with her fabulous pastries for more than fifty years, is drifting away into a haze of Alzheimer’s. But in a rare moment of clarity, Mamie realizes that unless she tells Hope about the past, the secrets she has held on to for so many years will soon be lost forever. Tantalizingly, she reveals mysterious snippets of a tragic history in Paris. And then, arming her with a scrawled list of names, she sends Hope to France to uncover a seventy-year-old mystery.
Hope’s emotional journey takes her through the bakeries of Paris and three religious traditions, all guided by Mamie’s fairy tales and the sweet tastes of home. As Hope pieces together her family’s history, she finds horrific Holocaust stories mixed with powerful testimonies of her family’s will to survive in a world gone mad. And to reunite two lovers torn apart by terror, all she’ll need is a dash of courage, and the belief that God exists everywhere, even in cake. . . .
This was our latest book club read. There were some things I liked about this book and some things I didn’t.
- The premise of the book was good. A woman who escaped the Holocaust and hid her identity for years now has Alzheimer’s and in a moment of clarity reveals to her granddaughter that there is family she never told her about.
- The Alzheimer’s bits were horrible, but necessary. The idea of Alzheimer’s scares the living daylights out of me and really try not to think about it, but this pretty much put it in my face. Some people would put that in the “bad” category, but I think it’s good to face your fears.
- The Holocaust parts were also horrible. They are hard to read, but the history is there regardless of how it makes us feel.
- The overall history of the book was good. I enjoyed learning about Muslims who helped hide and smuggle Jews out of France during WWII. It was a piece of history I’d never read anything about.
- The recipes were pretty cool.
- Everything fell into place WAY too easy. I realize the search for Jacob and Mamie’s family in France had to fit in one book, but that is what time hops are for. Hope tracks everyone down in like 3 weeks and most of it happens by mere happenstance. It was just ridiculous how easily Hope got all her information.
- Hope drove me crazy and her daughter, Annie, needed a knot jerked in her tail! Annie was the most obnoxious pre-teen ever!
- The title was stupid. There was nothing sweet about forgetting. Mamie knew she was forgetting things and it tore her up. The only memories she was left with were horrible ones.
So, the good outweighed the bad, which is why this book got 3 1/2 stars. I don’t think I’d recommend this book for book clubs. There was not enough meat to chew on for discussion. If you like Hallmark Channel movies, you’ll love this book.