Review

The All You Can Dream Buffet. Barbara O’Neal

Book Cover of The All You Can Dream Buffet

The All You Can Dream Buffet
Barbara O’Neal
Publisher: Random House: Bantam Dell
Date: March 4th 2014
Format: e-ARC
Pages: 400
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Source:  Publisher via NetGalley

Popular blogger and foodie queen Lavender Wills reigns over Lavender Honey Farms, a serene slice of organic heaven nestled in Oregon wine country. Lavender is determined to keep her legacy from falling into the profit-driven hands of uncaring relatives, and she wants an heir to sustain her life’s work after she’s gone. So she invites her three closest online friends—fellow food bloggers, women of varied ages and backgrounds—out to her farm. She hopes to choose one of them to inherit it—but who?

There’s Ginny, the freckle-faced Kansas cake baker whose online writing is about to lead her out of a broken marriage and into a world of sensual delights. And Ruby, young, pregnant, devoted to the organic movement, who’s looking for roots—and the perfect recipe to heal a shattered heart. Finally, Val, smart and sophisticated, a wine enthusiast who needs a fresh start for her teenage daughter after tragedy has rocked their lives. Coming together will change the Foodie Four in ways they could never have imagined, uniting them in love and a common purpose. As they realize that life doesn’t always offer a perfect recipe for happiness, they also discover that the moments worth savoring are flavored with some tears, a few surprises, and generous helping of joy.

Firstly, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book.  It is about four women and the stages that they are at in their lives and the challenges that face each of them.  I especially warmed to Lavender who is about to celebrate her 85th birthday, Ginny who has really never travelled out of her neighbourhood and now in her 40’s needs to reinvent  her life and Ruby who is pregnant and always cheerful but has had a difficult road to hoe in many ways.  Then there is Virginia who has lost many of her family in a bad crash and now has one teenage daughter that she is endeavouring to guide through the teen years.  
As I watched these women tussle with the challenges they meet along the way, I knew what I wanted them to do and choose, but I wasn’t sure up until the end what they would do.  These women had met through blogging, each of them had a very viable blog with many followers, Virginia was the only one who was not blogging and hadn’t for a couple of years.  I think every blogger enjoys reading about characters who blog – at least I do! 
Ginny has a baking blog and she also specialises in photography, even teaching a course online. She has made enough money to buy herself an Airstream.  ( I had to google images to take a look at what she had bought herself – very nice too!)  Despite what her husband says and her mother and friends she embarks on a journey that is to change her life.  Imagine, up until this time she has never flown on a plane, seen the ocean or been to the mountains.  With her she takes her wonderful dog Willow.
Ruby has just been dumped by her boyfriend and she is learning what it means to stand on her own two feet and choose life as a strong woman. Virginia has a daughter who is struggling to make meaning of her life now with the rest of her family gone.  I felt I saw the least of Virginia, I am sure she has more of a story to tell.  
Invited to Lavender’s birthday they all meet, some of them for the first time, they enjoy each other’s company and support each other in the choices they make.  Lavender has grown into a delightful older woman who has lived life to the full and lived it with passion.  Now she wants to see that passion for her farm carried on by someone with equal passion for it.  Who will be the right one is her question of life at this point.
When the book finished I was sad to leave this wonderful community of women, I wished I could follow their lives through their blogs!  While this book is essentially about the growth and friendship of the characters, there are some males in the book who add to the spice in this story.
An excellent book, I recommend it to anyone who loves to read about women journeying together to truly live their lives.  I am sure some of you will see yourselves in at least one of these women as I certainly did.
4 stars

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