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How to Bake a Perfect Life

3.88  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,306 Ratings  ·  643 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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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Kimberly Kincaid
Jul 30, 2012 Kimberly Kincaid rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 18, 2011 Deborah Blake rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
"Bread I know. Bread I love."

This statement described Ramona Gallagher's life. She ran her bakery out of a seen-for-better-days Victorian home once owned by her grandmother. Her daughter taking an unexpected trip to Germany, a broken water pipe, a soon-to-be visiting teenager and a dog needing rescue: these were just a few of the things that were affecting her day.

The story was told by three generations of females: Ramona, her daughter, Sofia, and Sofia's stepdaughter, Katie. Normally I don't ca
Angela Mcclanahan
Jun 25, 2011 Angela Mcclanahan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
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 really liked it
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
May 21, 2011 Just - The romance reader rated it it was amazing
Shelves: at-library
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
*3.5 stars*
Apr 17, 2011 Naomi rated it liked it
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.
Feb 16, 2011 Kathryn rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011
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.
Aug 30, 2011 Holli rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 it was amazing
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.
Mar 17, 2011 Michelegg rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 21, 2014 Jennifer Donovan rated it really liked it
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
May 23, 2011 Mary rated it really liked it
Shelves: bought
You can read my take here

Bookworm LLC
Jul 19, 2013 Bookworm LLC rated it it was amazing
Shelves: judy-bookshelf
I loved this book. It even has a happy ending. All three of her books are on my keeper shelf.
Mandie Kok
Nov 21, 2015 Mandie Kok rated it it was amazing
This is such a beautifully crafted book, that despite the heartache and drama the characters experience, there is always a sense of hope. The imagery within the pages are of a beautiful home and garden, filled with love and sunshine and the sweet smells of bread baking.

I found it uplifting, with an overall message that life is messy, but we can get through anything with the help and support of our loved ones.

I particularly enjoyed reading about these women, in different stages of their lives, an
Apr 20, 2014 Cindy rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014-read
Really enjoyed this book and recommend it as a heart touching chic-lit read!!
Susan Andersen
Apr 13, 2011 Susan Andersen rated it really liked it
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
Jan 25, 2011 Sara rated it liked it
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
Nov 22, 2011 LiteraryMarie rated it it was ok
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
Jan 10, 2011 Denise rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 03, 2012 gille rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiftyfiftyme
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
Oct 27, 2011 Megan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5-stars, fiction
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
Dec 29, 2011 Jess rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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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...

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