The Secret to Hummingbird Cake
by Celeste Fletcher McHale
“Why won’t you just tell me what’s in that cake?” I’d been trying to get Laine’s recipe for years. We all had.
When all else fails, turn to the divine taste of hummingbird cake.
In the South you always say “yes, ma’am” and “no, ma’am.” You know everybody’s business. Football is a lifestyle not a pastime. Food—especially dessert—is almost a religious experience. And you protect your friends as fiercely as you protect your family—even if the threat is something you cannot see.
In this spot-on Southern novel brimming with wit and authenticity, you’ll laugh alongside lifelong friends, navigate the sometimes rocky path of marriage, and roll through the outrageous curveballs that life sometimes throws . . . from devastating pain to absolute joy. And if you’re lucky, you just may discover the secret to hummingbird cake along the way.
Sincere thanks to the Thomas Nelson & Zondervan Fiction Guild for providing me with a complimentary copy to read and review. Opinions and thoughts are 100% my own, and are in no way influenced by the author or publisher.
This book … wow! You know how you always hear people review a book or movie by saying, “It made me laugh, it made me cry …”? Well, The Secret to Hummingbird Cake actually made me do both of those things (on more than one occasion!) and that is a rare find, indeed.
I should mention up front, that while this was published by a Christian publishing house, it is really a far cry from most Christian novels that I have read. There are a few mild swear words, some drinking to excess, and an affair that are covered, but to me, this was the most realistic portrait of “real life” that I have seen in a novel in a while. (Other than The Feathered Bone, which was also very true-to-life.) It was not vulgar in any way, but I thought readers should be aware.
What I really loved about this book though, was the way the author delved into the beauty of female friendships. For someone who is an introvert like me and who finds it hard to find those close, true friendships, it brought me back again to how much I miss having that in my life. Now that I am in the “empty-nest” stage of my life, and the few close friends that I have had over the years are in different states, it is hard to not have that special friendship with someone who lives in the same city. Long-distance friendships are wonderful, but I think we can all agree that they aren’t the same as having someone close at hand.
There were moments in the book that literally made me laugh out loud (and that sure felt good!) as well as a few moments that had me bawling like a baby. It was beautiful to “see” the complete devotion that these friends had for one another, through good times and bad, and how much those friendships impacted one another in their day to day lives.
I have read some reviews where people have stated that they didn’t care for this book because it dealt with things like illness, marital issues (real issues, not storybook issues), didn’t have enough faith-based elements, etc., but for me, it spoke to my heart. I think this is going to be one of those books that speak to different people in different ways, depending on where they are at in their own life journey.
Funny, sassy, tragic, lovely, poignant, beautiful, and real … these are the best words I can find to describe The Secret to Hummingbird Cake, and I would highly recommend it to any adult reader who knows (or has known) the beauty of true friendship. It will keep you thinking, long after you have finished reading.
I haven’t yet made a Hummingbird Cake (the recipe was included on the bookmark sent in the gift package from the publisher), but I think I will be making one in the near future.