Once upon a time MizFit bought a book as a gift for a friend’s birthday.
Then, as luck would have it, she stumbled upon the *truly* perfect gift for aforementioned friend and said book fell to the back of her shelving unit (if by shelving unit you mean floor because that’s pretty much how the MizFit rolls—–which I do)
Flash forward a few years when the MizFit finally had time to read again (cue joyous music/bookstore gift cards falling from the sky) and for some reason she chose this book.
It wasnt a book to which she’d normally be drawn (being more the baking of protein bars type than the whipping up of fancy cakes) but lo and behold she loved it.
DEVOURED it if you will.
And, while doing so, learned more than a few things about BEING PRESENT and living life.
Eat Cake (by Jeanne Ray. Link at top of page…click MizFit Recommends) was really surprisingly good. Lemmie give you the book’s description:
Married life is not always bliss, as Ruth, a married mother of two, is finding out. (ok the MizFit mightcould relate to this) Her normal life with a hospital administrator husband, surly teenage daughter and son at college is quickly disappearing as, within a year, Ruth’s mother comes to live with them, her husband loses his job and Ruth begins to wonder if her life is ever going to be happy again (not my idea of escapism. Im all about the blissfully happy characters as there’s enough struggle in my real world). The situation goes from bad to worse when Ruth’s father, who has been estranged from his family since Ruth was two years old, calls to announce he has broken both of his wrists and needs to move in with them while he recovers (again, cry me a river. the MizFit wants a more happy book if it’s fiction).
(The piece of resistance?) Ruth feels helpless, and the only thing that makes her feel better is baking cakes.
Simply reading the description it’s easy to see why the book lolled about on my shelf:
semi-depressing character circumstances + a woman whose escape is cake baking + a MizFit who is more about the laughter/cake ORDERING= not a must read.
yet I was wrong.
I knew it early on in the book when the main character describes taking a stress reduction course and tells how the instructor told them to, essentially, go to their safe place.
she continues describing how her classmates had the standard calming places (beach scenes etc) yet hers, which she was too embarrassed to share, was the inside of a warm hollowed out center of a cake. This isnt a food fantasy, the character clarifies, it’s all about scents, warmth, and the comfort of the cake-cocoon.
She continues taking about how the turning down of cake has become a virtue in our society.
That we now revere the discipline of the woman who declines dessert and how sad she truly finds that.
The character notes that cake isnt every day, but that it is the happiest of days: special meals out. birthdays. weddings. family gatherings.
In her mind, the cake decliner isnt one to be revered as having will power but one to feel sad for as s/he has lost touch with the joy in life (please to note that Jeanne Ray says this all far more poetically than I).
The story unfolds & I was riveted by the authors description of the mother/daughter dynamic.
In one scene, where the main character/mother is paralyzed by life-fear, she surrenders to her daughter and, essentially, hands over the reigns to her world.
She marvels at how confident her daughter has become and wonders to herself if she had that same confidence at 16 and if life had taken it out of her.
For some reason this book just resonated with me now.
It wont change your life.
It might not even cause you to ponder things such as being present, being supportive, the importance of family, and the *importance* of supporting said family even if you think their passions/ventures are crazy as it with did me.
If nothing else it will give you the tiniest of pause the next time cake is proffered—-whether you accept the confection or not.
My tip of the day? Eat Cake. Both kinds.