The Magic of Lemon Drop Pie
About the Book:
An uplifting novel about a heartbroken young pie maker who is granted a magical second chance to live the life she did not choose, from the bestselling author of The Enlightenment of Bees.
Lolly Blanchard's life only seems to give her lemons. Ten years ago, after her mother's tragic death, she broke up with her first love and abandoned her dream of opening a restaurant in order to keep her family's struggling Seattle diner afloat and care for her younger sister and grieving father. Now, a decade later, she dutifully whips up the diner's famous lemon meringue pies each morning while still pining for all she has lost.
As Lolly's thirty-third birthday approaches, her quirky great-aunt gives her a mysterious gift--three lemon drops, each of which allows her to live a single day in a life that might have been hers. What if her mom had not passed away? What if she had opened her own restaurant in England? What if she had not broken up with the only man she has ever loved? Surprising and empowering, each experience helps Lolly let go of her regrets and realize the key to transforming her life lies not in redoing her past but in having the courage to embrace her present.
What happens if a woman gets a chance to redo the three biggest regrets in her life?
If you liked the movie About Time, you'll love this novel. Full disclosure, I read the last 10 chapters sitting cross-legged in the passenger seat, headed to family Thanksgiving, blowing my nose and wiping mascara.
Full disclosure, I was afraid this book would read like a Hallmark movie in print. I only grabbed it at our local bookstore because The Enlightenment of Bees was one of my Top 10 Reads in 2019. And now I'm a believer. I'll read everything this woman writes.
Follow the bliss, Great-Aunt Gert tells Lolly. How?
Be honest. Pay attention. Seek joy.
Cue the tears. Be honest -- with yourself, and with others, and face up to what is going on in your life without minimizing it.
Pay attention. To the people and opportunities in your life.
Seek joy. (And, Aunt Gert reminds Lolly that bliss/joy is quite different than happiness.)
"Happiness is fleeting, fickle, often based on our circumstances. If you chase happiness, you will more often than not end up disappointed by the very nature of life. Life is hard, brutal at times, and often unfair. But following your bliss, that's entirely different. It means facing your present reality with honesty and courage and, in the midst of it all, continuing to pursue each spark of joy, even if it is a tiny pinpoint in the darkness of your life. Do not give up. Continue to look for the light in your life--it is always present somewhere, some small thing to be grateful for, something to celebrate, a way to give joy to others, a new way to grow. Move toward the light in life; seek it out no matter what. This is the essence of what it means to follow your bliss. You must be honest. Pay attention. Seek joy."
The three lemon drops and Lolly's discoveries in her alternate universe lives were heartrending and thought-provoking.
"'My best advice?' Mom squinted at me appraisingly. 'Let it fall apart. .... It took me a while to finally understand the truth. Sometimes things don't work out the way we hoped, despite our best intentions. And when they go pear-shaped, you have to let them. You can't keep holding on, trying to redo the past and stop the bad things from happening. The happened, and you can't change that. You can't keep holding on to the version of the future you imagined you'd have, the way you thought things would turn out. You have to let the present be what it is--broken, flawed, painful, but real.'
"'If I let go, everything will fall to pieces. I can't let that happen.'
"'Honey, it sounds like whatever you're holding on to is probably already broken,' she said kindly, 'and you're just holding the pieces together and praying for the glue...Life doesn't work that way. If you cling so tight to something that's already broken, to a life and dream that can never come true, you don't have space in your life for anything else, for the good and real plan B's.'"
Rory and Lolly drove me crazy in the best way and I loved Lolly's family and her goat-milking friend Eve. (Can relate to the talk about milking stands!) I was pulling so hard for Lolly and honestly wasn't sure what ending I wanted for her!
This is not a book with a moral of "being content where you are". It's braver than that.
Is it a tad predictable? Maybe. (Depends on your level of cynicism.) Me, I'd call it whimsical and honest.
I started this story thinking I knew what to expect, and it surprised me and made a lasting impression. This is a meaningful read that I think you'll connect with, no matter your season in life. And even if magical realism isn't your thing (like if you hate It's a Wonderful Life) please still give it a try!
Let me know if you read it!