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The All You Can Dream Buffet

The All You Can Dream Buffet
By Barbara O’Neal
Bantam
March 2014 tentative publication date
400 pages
$7.99/kindle, $11.40 Paperback

Lavender Wills’ farm in the Willamette Valley in Oregon is a labor of love. Her passion is growing beautiful acres of lavender, in caring for chickens humanely and tending to her bee hives. Time had been good to her, though she is older now, and intuition whispers for her to find an heir for her land and business, someone who loved it as much as she does. Clearly, her two nephews, who have businesses in Portland, wouldn’t respect the land. They would sell it to the highest bidder.

Being a wise woman, she drafted a plan. She invited her fellow food bloggers to help her celebrate her 85th birthday. The Foodie Four are Lavender, Ginny, Ruby and Valerie. The women are at a crossroads in their life. Ginny’s non-existence love life, even though she’s married, leaves her desiring passion and love. She puts all her time and energy into “Cake of Dreams” blog, which is so popular it was written about in Martha Stewart’s magazine. “The Flavor of a Blue Moon,” is Ruby’s blog. It is poetic and informative. As for Ruby’s life, she’s caught in a heartbreaking stage and needs to move on. Valerie and her daughter, Hannah, are deeper into heartbreak than can be imagined. Their loss is great and they are having difficulty transitioning into the rest of their lives. All the women agree to take Lavender up on her invitation. This is what helps an online friendship turn into a real life one.

The All You Can Dream Buffet is a wonderful slice-of-life novel. The farm’s setting is just as interesting as the character’s challenges. It is a nurtured environment that seems to have a soul of its own. No one wants to leave. Ginny and Ruby’s stories are more drawn out than Valerie’s. I could picture them and relate to their experiences, more than I could with Valerie. Lavender’s life, her love and respect for the land, was equally interesting. I liked that her farm manager, Noah, was included in the storytelling. He had buried deep within all his inner demons until someone came along to help him through that chapter of his life.

I loved the book and would love to see a sequel, emails from the Foodie Four, and all.

Five food blogs out of five
Denise Fleischer
Author of Deadly Reservations
Gottawritenetwork.wordpress.com
January 19, 2014

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