THE PERFECT RECIPE FOR LOVE AND FRIENDSHIP

Shirley Jump

Bridget O’Bannon is ready for a do-over. After years of pretending she had a happy marriage and denying that she missed the friends and family she’d left behind, she’s headed home to restart her life.

But working alongside her family every day at their bakery isn’t as easy as whipping up her favorite chocolate peanut butter cake. Her mother won’t give her a moment’s peace, and her sister Abby is keeping secrets of her own. And there doesn’t seem to be enough frosting in the world to smooth over the cracks forming between them.

Bridget can see the recipe for a happy life—including the possibility of a new romance—written out before her,

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Bridget O’Bannon is ready for a do-over. After years of pretending she had a happy marriage and denying that she missed the friends and family she’d left behind, she’s headed home to restart her life.

But working alongside her family every day at their bakery isn’t as easy as whipping up her favorite chocolate peanut butter cake. Her mother won’t give her a moment’s peace, and her sister Abby is keeping secrets of her own. And there doesn’t seem to be enough frosting in the world to smooth over the cracks forming between them.

Bridget can see the recipe for a happy life—including the possibility of a new romance—written out before her, but first she and her family will need to lay bare their secrets and rediscover the most elusive ingredients of all: forgiveness, laughter, and love.

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  • Forever
  • Paperback
  • July 2017
  • 368 Pages
  • 9781455572007

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$14.99

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About Shirley Jump

When she’s not writing books, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Shirley Jump competes in triathlons, mostly because all that training lets her justify mid-day naps and a second slice of chocolate cake. She’s published more than 60 books in 24 languages, although she’s too geographically challenged to find any of those countries on a map.

Author Website

Praise

“4 Stars! Bridget O’Bannon’s grief at the loss of her husband is authentic, and her tumultuous relationship with her controlling mother and sisters refreshingly honest. As the author peels back the layers of this heartwarming, sometimes heart-wrenching, story, readers are given a glimpse of the good, the bad, and the ugly sides to family and forgiveness.”RT Book Reviews

Discussion Questions

1. The hummingbird appears at the beginning and the end of the story. How does the hummingbird help Bridget cope with her grief? Do you think it was a symbol, as she does? Do you have things in your life that are symbols or messages?

2. The Perfect Recipe for Love and Friendship is filled with secrets and devastating revelations. What was the most shocking secret?

3. Each of the women is hiding a secret. Some seem to believe that keeping a secret is wrong while others appear to feel that keeping a secret may be the right thing to do to spare others’ feelings. Do you believe that family secrets should be revealed or hidden forever? What do you think is most important in a relationship, total honesty or sensitivity to the other’s feelings?

4. How much of a marriage’s success or failure do you think can be attributed to the love between husband and wife and how much to external factors, such as jobs, finances, location, and other people? Do you think that Bridget and Jim loved each other enough to get married? What was  the biggest factor in the failure of their relationship? Could their marriage have been saved?

5. Shirley Jump has often been praised for writing stories that pull at readers’ emotions. Looking back on the story, discuss the moments that were the most emotional for you. What moments made you cry? What moments made you laugh?

6. Who is your favorite of the four sisters: Bridget, Nora, Abby, or Magpie? Why?

7. Discuss the roles of sisterhood and friendship in the novel. Are the four sisters also friends? Which character proves to be the greatest friend to one of her sisters? Does the way Bridget values sisterhood and friendship change as a result of her husband’s death?

8. Baking is a creative and therapeutic activity for Bridget. How do you think baking alleviates her grief? Does Colleen have a similar experience with baking? Does Nora? Does Abby?

9. Why do you think Colleen is so controlling and critical of her daughters? What was your impression of Colleen at the beginning of the book? What about at the end? Over the course of the novel, how does she change and what does she learn about herself?

10. Each of the women struggles with religion throughout the story but Colleen has the closest relationship with God, so she has the most conflict. Do you think it’s possible for Colleen to resolve her issues with faith and religion? Do you think she can accept Abby and Jessie’s marriage?

11. If you had to reinvent yourself the way Bridget did after her  husband’s death, what would you do? Was Bridget right to go back to the family business or should she find a way to strike out on her own?

12. At one point in the story, Bridget and Nora fight about bananas. Nora feels that Jim was being too controlling but Bridget says that she would be happy just to have Jim back to complain. Who did you side with? Have you lost someone and would you be willing to take the bad along with the good to have them back? If Jim were still alive, does the story about the bananas make you think that Bridget should have tried to make her marriage work? Do you think this event was one that made Bridget finally start seeing how deep the problems went in her marriage?

13. Bridget meets Garrett soon after her husband dies but several months pass before she is ready to go out on a date with him. If they had met sooner or later, do you think Bridget and Garrett’s relationship would have evolved differently? Would they have even struck up a friendship without Bridget’s grief? Will they get married or is this just a rebound relationship for Bridget?

14. When Bridget looks out at her yard, the primroses bring happy and sad memories. Are you a gardener? What brings you joy about gardening? Do you use gardening to reduce stress?

15. Aunt Mary is a colorful character with an interesting past. She is a bit of a loner and has missed out on a lot of family events due to her travels. Do you have an unconventional person in your family? Do you envy their freedom or do you think that they have wasted their life?