Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Book Spotlight & Guest Post: The Cake Therapist by Judith Fertig

Please join me in welcoming Judith Fertig to Always With a Book. Judith's debut book, The Cake Therapist, is out today. I'll be reviewing this book in the coming weeks, but for now, please enjoy this lovely guest post.

Title: The Cake Therapist   
Author: Judith Fertig     
Published: June 2015, Berkley  
Format: Paperback, 304 pages   

A fiction debut that will leave you wanting seconds, from an award-winning cookbook author.

Claire “Neely” O’Neil is a pastry chef of extraordinary talent. Every great chef can taste shimmering, elusive flavors that most of us miss, but Neely can “taste” feelings—cinnamon makes you remember; plum is pleased with itself; orange is a wake-up call. When flavor and feeling give Neely a glimpse of someone’s inner self, she can customize her creations to help that person celebrate love, overcome fear, even mourn a devastating loss.

Maybe that’s why she feels the need to go home to Millcreek Valley at a time when her life seems about to fall apart. The bakery she opens in her hometown is perfect, intimate, just what she’s always dreamed of—and yet, as she meets her new customers, Neely has a sense of secrets, some dark, some perhaps with tempting possibilities. A recurring flavor of alarming intensity signals to her perfect palate a long-ago story that must be told.

Neely has always been able to help everyone else. Getting to the end of this story may be just what she needs to help herself.

The Art of Cake Therapy 

Marie Antoinette, whose first language was actually German, either mis-spoke, was poorly translated, or never actually said of the starving peasants, "Qu'ils mangent de la brioche" (“Let them eat brioche,” often translated as “Let them eat cake.”)

But that was the least of her troubles.

We may not have the French Revolution, nor the shadow of the guillotine, like she did.

But we do have job insecurity, fiscal cliffs, a shrinking middle class, a melting polar ice cap, romantic interests who can’t commit, people we’d like to commit, thankless domestic tasks, and the age-old question of “paper or plastic?”

We’re stressed by things large and small.

So when I was writing my debut novel The Cake Therapist, I had an “aha” moment early on. What if my heroine could help people solve their thorny life issues—with cake and flavor?

What if Claire O’Neil Davis, who goes by “Neely,” could help her bakery customers and wedding cake clients take charge with chocolate and coffee as the new year begins. Get in the mood with blood orange and raspberry?  Lessen their grief with a little spice? Or recognize their longing for home with pomegranate?

As Neely says in The Cake Therapist, “there was a flavor that explained you—even to yourself. A flavor whose truth you recognized when you tasted it. A flavor that answered the question you didn’t know you had.”

What if cake flavors could help those who are doubtful, stuck in a rut, ending a relationship, starting over, or not-so-simply stymied?

I thought that would be great. So I created Neely, a talented pastry chef who reads people as flavors. When she focuses on a wedding cake client, for instance, then lets her intuition kick in, she senses a flavor. Every flavor is the hyperlink to a feeling. And every feeling is the heart of someone’s story. Once she has the story, she knows the flavors that will increase their well-being.

It can be that simple. Don’t we all wish.

But real life doesn’t always work that way. Sometimes the story is more complicated. Sometimes Neely only gets pieces of a story, and it takes a while for her to put it all together. (That’s why writers create flashbacks.)

Even as she serves up ever-changing cake flavors that help her bakery customers move through life, one flavor grows in intensity for Neely alone. A persistent and increasing sourness alerts her to unfinished business, to anger and a long-ago family tragedy that threatens to impact her first wedding client.

But then an amazing strawberry cake with the flavor of a sunny summer’s day unlocks the past.

Yes, good, made-from-scratch cake with wonderful flavor can do all of that.

Just ask The Cake Therapist. Or try the recipe and taste for yourself.

Thank you Judith for writing this...I know I'm quite excited to read this and just might be trying some of the recipes myself, especially the strawberry cake. It looks delicious!!!



  1. I think this book sounds like the perfect summer read. And that cake on the cover - I'd like a slice! LOL

  2. This book sounds wonderful! The cakes seem heavenly!


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