I feel really bad when I offer to review a book for someone based on the fact that I think I’m going to like it and then it turns out that I don’t. It’s hard to give someone you like a less then favourable review for their hard work (work that many other people really liked!), but I do have to be honest about what I think.
As the story begins – in the short, often crass, silly and sometimes ridiculous novel Heaping Spoonful by Shauna Glenn – main character Claire has lost her young husband Bryan to cancer, 286 days before, and is left to raise her two small children, Chase (6) and Allie (4), and run her bakery business, Heaping Spoonful, without totally losing her mind. She’s dealing with her sister Lucy who seems to go through boyfriends like she changes her underwear and her mother Mary who is in a nursing home because she has Alzheimer’s. The only people in Claire’s life who seem remotely stable are her poor, tired father, Fred and the man who is the brains behind her business, Ben.
Right off the bat, horny Claire, who hasn’t had sex since before her husband died, jumps on Lucy’s current boyfriend, Drew: a handsome surfer dude who almost runs her down with his car that morning while she’s out running, after which she angrily and immaturely hurls a rock through the back of his windshield. After meeting him again at Lucy’s dinner party and declaring that they loathe each other, before you know it, and “all of the sudden” (I always thought the saying was “all of a sudden”) Claire is throwing herself at Drew, shags him silly and proclaims herself to be the worst sister in the world…and she says this more than once. I’d say so! I mean, who would sleep with their sister’s boyfriend?! Not me!
I thought it was appropriate that Claire didn’t have any other friends because she is not only self-absorbed, rude, sarcastic, and bitchy, but downright mean to Lucy and she certainly didn’t win a fan in this reader. I didn’t like Claire and although I had a bit of sympathy for her, she acted histrionic most of the time and when she meets her best customer, Mrs. Sugarman’s handsome grandson, Henry, she turns into a bumbling, goofy idiot. Having a main character who is a person that I would never want to be friends with, and I can’t imagine many intelligent women would, isn’t a good way to sell a story. It’s really hard to believe that someone like Claire deserves a happy ending. She may be a talented baker but when it comes to social interaction, she’s totally inept.
“I turned back to Lucy and snapped, “Look, little sister, I appreciate that you’re concerned, but, really, do I need to get advice from a girl, who until recently, thought that a long term relationship was anything over two weeks? Or from a girl whose idea of having something in common with someone meant getting matching tattoos? Because I really don’t think you’re qualified to be telling other people how to live their lives, thank you very much.”
I thought it odd that there was no real description given of what Claire looks like but the green eye cliché of all time was used to describe Lucy’s boyfriend, Drew, in the beginning of the book. “I really noticed his eyes. They were the color of emeralds. I’d never seen eyes so green.” I’ve read a lot of romance novels lately and honestly, if I read that description of a man’s green eyes ever again, I’m not going to finish the book!
Glenn writes with a pace that makes me wonder how much coffee and/or sugar she consumed while writing it (or maybe it was Pinot Grigio which would explain things); but maybe that was just how she wanted Claire to sound, and if so, bingo!
Heaping Spoonful is a story that’s not sure if it’s a romantic comedy or a black comedy. There are no less than three deaths in 151 pages and while there are happy special events as well, the story came off as a spiteful “My Best Friend’s Wedding” when Claire, not a moment too soon, realizes that the man she truly loves has been staring her right in the face for a very long time!
While Shauna Glenn is a decent writer and really is capable of creating funny material (read her blog at Is It 5 O’Clock Yet?), unfortunately there is absolutely nothing original or delightful about this novel except for the recipes in the back of the book. There were also a few short stories thrown in as a bonus but to be honest, I didn’t bother to read them.