I'm going to have to backtrack and find Barbara O'Neal's The Garden of Happy Endings. Over the years, I've liked some of the novels she's written as Barbara Samuel or Barbara O'Neal, and loved some of them. But, none of them hit home as much as The All You Can Dream Buffet. O'Neal always writes about women finding themselves, and finding the strength within themselves. This time, she writes about four bloggers who find friendship and courage through that friendship. These are women I want to know.
Lavender Wills is almost eighty-five, a woman who lived life fully, and, late in life took over Lavender Honey Farms in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. But, she's worried about the farm and what will happen to it. Who will take over the farm, and care for it as she does? So, the popular blogger and foodie emails a command invitation to her three friends, fellow bloggers. Come to Lavender Honey Farms for my birthday. One of those women might be the rightful heir.
Ruby of The Flavor of a Blue Moon blog, is young, pregnant, and passionate about the organic movement. Ruby is a earth goddess, but one with a broken heart. And, she's looking for a place to call home. Valerie, once a prima ballerina, had a wine blog until tragedy shattered her life. She's spent two years trying to help her teenage daughter heal. And, then there's Ginny. Ginny was once a cake decorator in a small Kansas town until she found herself famous because of her photographs on her Cake of Dreams blog. But, fame came with a bitter pill. Her family and friends turned on her. And, Ginny, who was scared to leave Kansas by herself, was prepared to drive to Oregon with her small camper and her dog. It's time for the FoodieFour to finally meet.
I can't really tell you more about the book because I don't want to spoil the joy and tears. But, O'Neal brings out the strength in women, testing them. Each of these women find it's time for a major change in their life, and their friendship gives them the courage to reverse directions. Ruby and Ginny are both looking for lives that will fulfill them. And, all four need other women to lean on. And, if it takes ghosts and memories to help women, they find a way to lean on the past as well.
O'Neal captures women's spirits, and the strength women need to build successful lives, whether those lives are with family, with friends that become family, or by themselves. The All You Can Dream Buffet is a sensual novel of flowers, and honey, and food, longing, and memories, and lust. It's a story that celebrates the possibilities in a woman's life, and the courage and friendship needed to turn possibilities into reality. O'Neal mixes ghosts of the past with present needs in a beautiful book.
Barbara O'Neal's website is www.barbaraoneal.com
The All You Can Dream Buffet by Barbara O'Neal. Bantam Books. 2014. ISBN 9780345536860 (paperback), 383p.
FTC Full Disclosure - I requested this book in order to review it.