How to Eat a Cupcake: A Novel by Meg Donohue (Harper, $13.99, 320 pages)
This debut novel by Meg Donohue is set in San Francisco (the author’s home), and tells the tale of the young Annie Quintana who dreams of opening a bakery specializing in fine cupcakes. Her dream is set to come true because the wealthy Julia St. Clair is willing to fund the business. The problem is that Julia was once Annie’s best and worst friend (Annie’s mom having worked as a housekeeper for the St. Clairs).
Donohue paints The City as a place where folks engage in massive quantities of eating and drinking, and she does a great job of making various locations – including the largely Hispanic Mission District – come to life. It’s likely that a number of male readers will, however, find this tale to be a bit too sweet in the telling for their taste. But female readers may willingly be caught up in the knotty struggles of X chromosomal relationships. How to Eat a Cupcake winds up being a type of psychological mystery in which the reader wants to find out what happens at the end.
Donohue displays a gift for dialogue in the debut and a certain sense of stylistic charm, but it’s hoped that she stretches herself a bit more in her next release. (Perhaps her next novel will be set in Clovis?)