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How to Bake a Perfect Life
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How to Bake a Perfect Life

3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  3,571 ratings  ·  568 reviews
In a novel as warm and embracing as a family kitchen, Barbara O’Neal explores the poignant, sometimes complex relationships between mothers and daughters—and the healing magic of homemade bread.

Professional baker Ramona Gallagher is a master of an art that has sustained her through the most turbulent times, including a baby at fifteen and an endless family feud. But now
Paperback, 416 pages
Published December 21st 2010 by Bantam
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Kimberly Kincaid
I really, really enjoyed this! O'Neal's description is just stunning, and I felt like I knew every nook of her bakery/house (and loved it). The characters were lovely while still being flawed (even when they did ugly things-- which wasn't often, but this is life-- you knew they weren't ugly people. They were so real!). I loved how masterfully she wrote the layers of each character, and that everyone had a journey in the book. The book did "jump" from character to character (smoothly, in my opini ...more
I liked this book very much. I liked the interaction between all of the characters and their individual story lines flowed together very well. This book also made me think about different parenting styles for different generations and how do we avoid the parenting mistakes our parents & grandparents made. There were a few loose ends that the author never tied up, but not enough to take away from my enjoyment of the book.

Main Characters
Ramona - the main character an early 40 year old baker,
Deborah Blake
I don't have the words to describe how much I loved this book. It is warm, funny, and entertaining while still being poignant and heart-breakingly real. It's like a mug of hot chocolate on a frosty cold day...with a shot of Bailey's in it. And as with all of O'Neal's books, the recipes are a great bonus.

Ramona Gallagher is a professional baker who is one plumbing disaster away from losing everying, including her business and her grandmother's falling-apart Victorian. To complicate things, her ve
Ramona finds herself well and truly thrown in the deep end when her daughter, Sophia, travels to Germany to be with her husband who suffered critical and life threatening injuries in the Iraq war. With Sophia in Germany, Ramona finds herself looking after her step-daughter Katie who has come from an impoverished and uncaring home.

Over the months, Katie slowly starts to trust Ramona and feel a measure of stability. But every time she starts to feel like she belongs something happens which remind
Angela Mcclanahan
I love her books! This book follows a woman, who is a baker, through her life. I love how it is like I am watching a snapshot of this woman's life. I see the entire gambit of emotions from deep sorrow to true love and everything in between. The characters in the book go through everyday life and all the challenges and surprises that go with it. If you haven't read this author before then you are in for a treat. She always writes about some type of cook or baker and then includes recipes in the s ...more
VillaPark Public Library
How to Bake a Perfect Life  A Novel by Barbara O'Neal
How to Bake a Perfect Life by Barbara O’Neal is the perfect recipe for an enjoyable read. Ramona Gallagher has weathered everything from becoming a single mother at age 15 to enduring an ongoing family feud that affects her current business situation. She operates a successful bread bakery in her inherited Colorado Springs Victorian home but the slow economy and a series of small mishaps threaten her business and home. Her daughter Sofia receives a call that her soldier husband has been badly i
Feb 27, 2013 Candice rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Carol W.
Some books come into your life at just the right time. This one has been sitting on my shelf, but I'm going through some rough times now and wanted something that would be a comforting read. This was a perfect fit. It's not all sweetness and light. There are some very sad elements to the book - an Iraq war veteran who becomes a drug addict and damages the life of her child, an Afghan war soldier who is horrifically injured in the war. But at its heart this is a nurturing book about mothers and d ...more
Just - The romance reader
The story had everything that a girl like me loves - baking, an awesome dog, a bakery, a bit of drama, some romance and a happy ending. Ramona is such a great character. She's so strong and compassionate, really, truly caring about those in her life. She has some struggles but no matter she's willing to sacrifice for her loved ones. And Katie, poor sweet Katie has seen way too much in her young life, but she's an old soul who has taken those bad experiences and struggles and turned them into lif ...more
Generally a cute story...sort of your typical chick-lit book. I bumped it up to 3 stars for the recipes alone..My gosh, the recipes look so fantastic. I am loving the fact that authors are starting to do recipes with their someone who loves to cook, it is just something that makes them stand out and go POW! And let me add, I have gotten some pretty terrific recipes from these types of books and authors web sites.
This book was such an enjoyable read and to get some delectable recipes for breads and muffins just added to my delight. My only true criticism was Ramona's relationship with her family and how she allowed them to treat her. I just felt she was strong enough to stand up for herself and not allow them to beat her up so badly. But that's what makes a good book, is the author's development of all the characters.
I am just amazed at how this author writes! I've read one other book by her and I loved it also.... her character development starts right off the bat and by page 5 you are invested in everyone in her stories. The relationships between her characters, the settings, the recipes..... her phrases and word choices.... just AMAZING!!!! I highly recommend this book as well as The Lost Recipe of Happiness by her.
How to Bake a Perfect Life is a standalone novel written by author Barbara O'Neal. The characters include Ramona, Ramona's daughter Sophia, and Sophia's thirteen-year-old stepdaughter Katie. After Sophia is called away to an emergency, Ramona becomes Katie's caregiver. Katie is struggling in life due to the typical teenage years accompanied by a young lifetime of multiple stressors. Ramona is dealing with her own memories of her teenage years along with her present-day stressors. This sounded li ...more
May 05, 2011 Sonja rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Sonja by: Kimberly Kincaid
I wish it was possible to add stars for those particular books that blow over the top...because this is one of them. Wow. Captures the complicated relationships within families, and the fear, guilt, insecurity, and other swirling emotions of Katie are portrayed extremely well.
This book was another amazing one from one of my favorite authors. Ramona was tough and stubborn but with such a love for her daughter and a desire to help struggling Sofia. The romance was perfectly yummy and so was the baking. I loved this book.
Jennifer Donovan
I received an audiobook review copy of this book.

It was a good story for those who like mild family drama. It's the story of Ramona Gallagher and her boulangerie, complete with bread recipes, generations-old starter, and family conflicts that go back a generation as well.

Ramona's teen pregnancy was the cause of a lot of problems. Beside the obvious, it caused conflict with her mother and sister. Her divorce years later from a man with whom she worked in the family restaurant caused more bad bloo
A fun quick read perhaps not the best writing but now and then I enjoy kicking back and putting my feet up with a simple book. The storyline took place in a bakery and the fact that there were recipes for various breads, especially sourdough. The book inspired me to promptly bring my own sourdough back on the counter in order to bake some sourdough bread. The writing seemed a bit slow at first and was a bit flat at times. The middle part of the book was the best in my opinion where (view spoiler ...more
You can read my take here

Really enjoyed this book and recommend it as a heart touching chic-lit read!!
Susan Andersen
I laughed, I sighed, I cried my eyes out. Loved it!
Barbara O’Neal aka Barbara Samuel is a masterful romance writer. She wrote the Sleeping Night which will remain my all time favorite. However, here in How To Bake A Perfect Life, the characters were a bit too one-dimensional, and aspects to the story that didn't convince me nor reach my heart. It was pleasant enough, but not gripping.
This is the story of 40-year old Ramona Gallagher and her family. Ramona runs a bakery and is facing business challenges. She has to sacrifice a lot and work hard t
I chose How to Bake a Perfect Life because I like to read and review books that may be good for Book Club. I can see how this book would appeal to many book clubs, but alas I cannot recommend this book for my book club as we know too many military wives and there are too many husbands who are or who will be deployed “over there.” While this book focuses more on the mother, not the pregnant wife of the military soldier who becomes a disfigured amputee, the side story of the pregnant wife is absol ...more
Ramona was born into a line of restaurant owners and bread bakers. After she was skipped over for a promotion, she broke away from the family and started her own bakery. Everything was fine until one phone call changed her life. Ramona's pregnant daughter, Sofia, received news that her soldier husband was badly burned overseas. Sofia rushed to her injured husband's side, leaving behind a 13-year-old stepdaughter, Katie, in Ramona's care.

The story slowly moves along with Ramona trying to keep her
In How to Bake a Perfect Life a cobbled together family of women struggle to find success and happiness and to understand each other. The book centers around Ramona, a 40 year old woman trying to keep her beloved bakery open. Circling the story of Ramona are those of Sophia, her pregnant daughter, and Katie, Sophia's neglected stepdaughter, in addition to Ramona's mother, grandmother, and aunt. Each woman has to fight her own set of demons and all are strong in their own, unique ways. Woven thro ...more
I loved How to Bake a Perfect Life. LOVED it. Read it in less than 2 days. Couldn't put it down, couldn't go to bed because I was so into it. I've read a lot of the other reviews that say it's typical chick-lit, but I don't know what kind of chick-lit those people are reading. This has some depth and deals with emotion and growth through generations of women. Sure it was predictable, but whatever. Do we read for surprises, or for the story, how it unfolds, how characters learn and grow? Do we ju ...more
Generally, I have a tendency to gag while reading a blurb that talks about ~exploring the bonds between mothers and daughters~, and one that additionally drops cliches like "offer a second chance at love." Barbara O'Neal, however, digs deep into characters and relationships, and she pulls out the poignant and the tough and the fragile. And she uses that stuff to tell her story, not the cliches or the stereotypes or the superficial obvious stuff. So while How to Bake a Perfect Life is a very, ver ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lisa Higgins
First, a little story of my own about baking bread. During my college years, I used to bake bread on Sunday afternoons. Hanging in the kitchen with my bleary-eyed roommates, I'd make the dough while we did the postmortem on the Saturday evening revels. When I'd set the dough down to rise, I'd go tackle my chemistry problem set. An hour or so later I'd return to punch the dough down to let it rise again--and return refreshed to that one stubborn problem. Another hour later, the bread went in the ...more
Sandy H
Jun 27, 2011 Sandy H rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: artquiltmaker, quiltingranny
Recommended to Sandy by: Tanesha
Shelves: fiction, chick-lit
VAGUE SPOILER ALERT (although some of my points hint at story lines I don't think there are any direct spoilers.

How to Bake a Perfect Life was an enjoyable read, although I liked some elements of the story line much more than others. I loved reading about the relationships between Ramona and Katie, Ramona and Sofia, and Sofia and Oscar. On the flip side, I found the parts about Ramona and Jonah pretty dull, frankly. Perhaps because it smacked a bit "typical romance novel" whereas the other rela
How to Bake a Perfect Life is the story of the interconnectedness of three women, and the role that baking plays in the healing of each of them. The story opens to mother Ramona and her adult daughter, Sofia, baking and casually discussing the daily components of their own lives. The phone rings and a strange voice on the other line asks to speak with Mrs. Oscar Wilson. Ramona turns to her daughter and suggests that she remember “they come to the door if they’re dead.” We learn that Sofia’s husb ...more
Julie Barrett
How to Bake a Perfect Life by Barbara O'Neil
Love how this story is about a family but the chapters are told with the recipe of the family dough from hundreds of years ago intertwined.
She is a master in the bakery but she's on hard time and about to lose the house. Ramona.
A good recipe will help get her through the bad times. Everything dealing with life is put into baking terms.
Starter dough-I remember making this and passing out a cup to others to make. It's easy to start.
Her daughter Sophia is
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Novel Books &...: O'Neal, Barbara-How to Bake a Perfect Life:Informal Buddy Read; Starts November 19, 2014 116 165 Jan 12, 2015 07:26AM  
Don't Forget 1 33 Dec 23, 2011 09:59AM  
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Barbara Samuel (also known as Barbara O’Neal) is the bestselling author of more than 40 books, and has won Romance Writers of America’s RITA award an astounding six times. Her books have been published around the world, including France, Germany, Italy, and Australia/New Zealand, among others. One of her recent women’s fiction titles, The Lost Recipe for Happiness (written as Barbara O’Neal) went ...more
More about Barbara O'Neal...
The Lost Recipe for Happiness The Secret of Everything The Garden of Happy Endings The All You Can Dream Buffet The Goddesses of Kitchen Avenue

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