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Simply from Scratch

3.49  ·  Rating Details ·  896 Ratings  ·  169 Reviews
Alicia Bessette writes with compassion and tenderness to illuminate the many unexpected ways people save each others' lives every day-often without even knowing it. Poignant, bittersweet, and strikingly honest, Simply from Scratch is a radiant celebration of friendship and the strength of the human spirit.

Rose-Ellen ("Zell") Carmichael Roy wears her late husband Nick's ca

ebook, 0 pages
Published August 5th 2010 by Penguin Group (USA) (first published July 6th 2010)
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I wasn’t expecting this at all; I certainly didn’t expect it to thump my heart around like it did. Look at the cover. I bought it because it’s written by a fraternity brother’s sister-in-law. I figured, hell, she’s got the guts to drop everything and freelance fulltime, I should support the cause. I figured I’d get around to it someday, would read about 30 pages, find that it wasn’t my thing (I mean look at the cover!), and maybe let my girlfriend or sister read it or something.

And the funny th
Matthew Quick
Beautiful novel written by a beautiful person.
Sep 12, 2010 Evan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Alicia Bessette's debut marries a big social issue with an intimate story of mourning. From the opening page there's a sad edge to the humor found in Zell's narration that neatly highlights both the setting (a wintery Massachusetts's town) and the tenuous bonds between characters that once felt united forever. The relationship between Zell and Ingrid gives the story its best, most emotionally profound moments -- moreso than the romantic moments between Zell and Ingrid's determined but struggling ...more
Jan 05, 2011 Suzanne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Diva Scavenger Hunt - Heart
Recommended to Suzanne by: Stephanie
I'm exhausted and spent in a good way. This is the best book I have read in a long, long time and my first 5-star read this year. Though it sounds cliched, I can't think of a better way to say that I laughed out loud, I cried big weeping sobs at times, and laughed and cried simultaneously several times. This novel reached the darkest corners of my heart and warmed them in an almost 'divine union' kind of way. The story was so bittersweet, redemptive, heart-warming, adorable, lovable in every way ...more
May 18, 2014 Kerry rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary-ladies
I really liked a lot of the Massachusetts and New England references in this book. Zell's husband died a little over a year ago during a mission trip for Katrina relief. She is not a great cook but when her neighbor's daughter volunteers to help her win a contest she can't say no. This encounter may have happened when she almost burned down her kitchen but who asked.

The story is light and fun. The romance is really light and not the focus. The characters are fun and they form great friendships,
Dec 13, 2014 leslye rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Entertaining, light, and fluffy...kind of like a Lifetime or Hallmark movie. It made me crave apple pie, but the romance included in the story made me roll my eyes:)

Jun 04, 2014 Deborah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Alice Bessette's SIMPLY FROM SCRATCH was an enjoyable read...sort of a quirky little story with interesting characters. I liked the fact that it wasn't just another happy ending--not that the ending was unhappy, but all of the loose ends weren't tied up in a perky bow.
Zell, the main character, is a young widow. Her husband has been dead for three years, yet she can't seem to get past his death at all. She doesn't mix with their old friends, and lives a reclusive life in their home with their ado
Dear Goodreads,

First, let me thank you for the free book. You are awesome in so many ways, even Ms. Browning would be unable to count them. That being said, I'm sorry, but I cannot review this book properly. It wasn't because I was incapacitated (though I did seriously consider utilizing this method to make it more fun) or because I'm anti-foodie (though I really don't mind if my burger is cooked at a McDonald's or Little Owl's. Hell, more power to those with a love for food and the preparation
Girls Gone Reading
First, let’s accentuate the positive. The chronology of Simply from Scratch really drives it. Certain elements of the plot are left mysterious, and you really do want to know how it ends. I was completely unsure about what Zell’s last present would be, whose Ingrid’s mother would be, and how Nick was killed. I think these mysteries made this book rise above the normal “chick lit” fare and made it more literary.

Simply from Scratch also got me when Zell remembered how life used to be. Bessette had
Aug 15, 2010 Claire rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: contemporary realistic fiction, grief
This is an entirely charming tale of Zell, Ingrid and Garrett amid a cast of wonderful, warm, wacky small-town characters set in snowy little Wippamunk.

Zell is still reeling more than a year from the day she learned that Nick died instantly in a freak accident while on a mission in post Katrina New Orleans. Taking a shot at redemption, she decides to enter the Polly Pinch of Love Live Desserts that Warm the Soul baking contest. This is a leap because Nick did All the cooking before he died. Ente
Aug 14, 2010 Doreen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

A grieving widow, a deserted daughter, a single dad, a guilt ridden best friend, a New England town of close knit, hard working, very real people, a TV cooking personality, an old lady no nonsense chainsaw artist and a greyhound who communicates in pirate talk...I just loved this book. It is a book about relationships between characters that I wanted to call freinds. Characters that I found myself cheering for as they cared for, tended to and helped each other cope with the realities of life whi
May 05, 2014 Camie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Zell has been a widow for a year after losing her husband in a freak accident while on a rescue mission post hurricane Katrina, when nine year old Ingrid Knox and her father move in next door. The two become friends and decide to enter a cooking contest, which is a good distraction as both have issues they are trying to work through. Adding depth to the storyline there are also some mysteries to solve , some humor ( as some of their cooking projects sound truly awful) and of course some hearts t ...more
Miko Lee
This was an entertaining, quick, one sitting read focused on a young widow, her next door neighbors (a 9 year old girl and her hunky law school attending dad) as they embark on entering a cooking contest. Ok so right there the story is told, but it is fun in the telling. Very much a beach read, but alas where is the sun?? I was irritated that the cover photo art features a girl's hands holding a cake pan. Her hands are very pale and this bugged me since the girls is African American. Jeez, didn' ...more
Jul 06, 2010 Amanda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 50-in-2010
What a fantastic debut novel! The characters are complex and the plot was good enough to capture my interest through the end. I was fascinated by Zell and the habits she picked up to cope with her husband's death. There were several phrases repeated regularly throughout the book that are very endearing; I loved "Zell's widow style" and the idiosyncrasies that were given to other characters.

Simply from Scratch was a pleasant surprise and I look forward to Bessette's next book.
Helen Isitt
Jun 01, 2011 Helen Isitt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is called Scrumpy Delight for Polly Pinch according to the cover of the copy I own. I bought it from the clearance table and when I began to read, I didn't think I was going to enjoy it. However, I fell in love with the central character, Zell, and the little girl neighbour, Ingrid. I could identify well with what Zell was going through and loved that it was the little girl who virtually forced her out of her funk. A thoroughly enjoyable and often poignant read.
Jul 08, 2014 Joann rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars......all I could think about at the end was "what about the dog!?!"
May 09, 2017 Lizz rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: physical-book, 2017
A decent little work of fluff. The description of the utter heartbreak the main character goes through was incredibly vivid, and the characters felt real enough. There were a few writing quirks that I found grating - primarily the pirate voice, and ridiculousness of the idea of someone throwing ingredients together without a method as their form of baking. Overall, it did it's job as a pleasant little book.
Rachel Carr
Nov 02, 2010 Rachel Carr rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
To read more reviews check out Reading Rendezvous at

Alicia Bessette’s writing is compassionate and sweet. As she writes this new novel Simply from Scratch we are overthrown with the illumination of death and the devotion that friends and family have for their loved ones. As we watch Rose Ellen “Zell” Roy deal with the death of her husband, Nick, we see her pain and sorrow, yet so much more. In an homage to her husband she dons his camouflage apron and att
Kerstin Wörterkatze
Zell und Nick waren zum Heulen glücklich: Skifahren, bis das Gesicht einfriert, Tanzen im Wohnzimmer, nächtliche Rennen mit ihrem Windhund. Und eine ganze Fußballmannschaft an Kindern wollten sie haben. Doch dann passiert die Katastrophe: Nick verunglückt tödlich. Zell zieht sich völlig zurück – bis eine ganze Reihe kleiner Wunder ihre Trauer in Zukunft verwandelt.

Zell ist Medizinillustratorin und lebt seit dem Tod ihres Mannes Nick mit ihrem Windhund Ahab allein in der Doppel
Jan 29, 2012 Tanja rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2012, review
>>Diese Rezension und viele mehr findet ihr auch hier:

Mehr als ein Jahr ist es jetzt her, seit Rose-Ellens Mann Nick bei einem Unfall während seiner Aufbauarbeiten in New Orleans nach dem Hurrikan Katrina ums Leben kam. Ein Jahr, das Zell immer tiefer in ihre Depression fallen ließ. Gemeinsam mit ihrem alternden Windhund Captain Ahab begeht sie einsame Tage mit Selbstgesprächen mit der Stimme des Hundes, wagt es kaum, mit Nicks Freunden, die damals bei dem U
Dare I say this is book perfection? Simply From Scratch is a flawless debut. I never wanted it to end, and nothing was going to stop me from reading it, not even obnoxious yelling football freaks in my living room who would normally distract (read: bother) me immensely. I sat beside them and read away, completely disconnecting from the world around me and falling in love with the incredible cast of characters.

Zell is a young widow. Her husband, Nick, died on a mission trip to New Orleans to help
Nov 06, 2011 LORI CASWELL rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
More than a year after her husband was killed during a relief mission in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina, Rose-Ellen “Zell” can’t bring herself to move on with her life. Zell who has lived her life with her meals provided via take out or the microwave. So much so, that her husband could even hide surprises for her in the oven knowing it would never be used.

A simple error by a postal carrier changes her life. She receives a magazine touting a baking contest with a $20,000 grand prize. She
Feb 23, 2017 Meghan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Meh. Improbable plot elements, awkwardly rendered. And what was the purpose of the dog, anyway?
Feb 15, 2017 Marisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
Initially I wasn’t sure how this book was going to work out as it has quite a sad premise, but I was quickly pulled into the story. Zell is a mess and recognizes that. We meet up with her as she tries once again to pull things together and pretend to have more of a normal life in front of her new neighbors. Seeing Zell and Ingrid bond and get into big cooking explosions brings them both back to life and I enjoyed seeing them both open up to the world.

I thought the flashbacks and letters interspe
Dec 28, 2011 Marlyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: food, women-s-stories
We meet Zell Carmichael as she's attempting to enter a baking contest. Unaware that there is something in the oven, she turns it on to preheat, and is soon overcome by smoke. Luckily, the local volunteer fire department shows up, gets Zell and her dog Ahab out of the house, and deals with the fire.

Zell is a widow who lives in Wippamunk, Massachusetts. Her husband, Nick, a news photographer, was killed while on a mission trip to New Orleans. She and Nick grew up in Wippamunk, along with most of t
Feb 19, 2017 Grüffeline rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Zell trauert um ihren Mann Nick, der plötzlich durch einen Unfall ums Leben kam. Sie zieht sich vollkommen zurück. Bis sie durch Zufall ein Geschenk findet, dass er ihr geben wollte.
Die Geschichte ist toll erzählt, zwischendurch grinst man ins Buch hinein, teilweise fühlt man Zells Trauer, ohne dass es einen erdrückt.

Rose-Ellen Roy, geborene Carmichael, genannt Zell, lebt in der Gemeinde Wippamunk. Sie liebt ihr kleines Örtchen, dennoch ist sie sich seit gut eineinhalb Jahren dieser Menschen nicht mehr bewusst, die sie zum Teil jahrelang kennt. Ihr Ehemann Nick ist bei der Besichtigung eines Kirchenbaus tödlich verunglückt…


Irgendwie schwach. Das Gefühl des Vermisstwerdens kam gar nicht richtig herüber. Sicher – an der einen oder anderen Stelle wurde Zell gefühlsmäßig intimer und en
 Gigi Ann
Zell is a widow who lives in Wippamunk, Massachusetts. Her husband, Nick, a news photographer, was killed while on a mission trip to New Orleans. He always did the cooking, because Zell didn't know how to cook. A year after his death she decides to try her hand at baking something for a contest she read about in a magazine, the winner will win a prize of $20,000. Zell would like to win the money and donate it to to the hurricane survivors in Nick's memory. She turns on the oven and unbeknownst t ...more
Tara Carpenter
Jul 15, 2010 Tara Carpenter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: chick-lit
This was a cute, common little book about a grieving widow and how she copes with her new life. There wasn't much original about the situation or plot, but the characters were still likable. I wanted to give it just 3 stars because on the surface, it doesn't seem like anything special or unique.

But... I was impressed by how the author dealt with the main character's depression and emotion. Bessette didn't belittle the emotions and the things she was going through, but she could laugh at herself
Jan 04, 2013 Vickie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: chick-lit
I listed chick-lit as one of my bookshelves for this book, but that was with some hesitation. It deals with the serious topic of grieving, but Alicia Bessette keeps the writing style humorous, but not insulting to the topic of grieving. She keeps a sadness in Zell's, the main character, humor. Each chapter is told from three different character's viewpoint; Nick's, the dead husband, is told from emails sent from his trip to New Orleans, where he was killed.

The second topic covered by Bessette th
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Alicia Bessette's first novel, A Pinch Of Love (also published as Simply From Scratch), became an international bestseller immediately upon publication. Library Journal called it “a strong, richly detailed debut novel, with a truly lovable heroine." Alicia was born and raised in central Massachusetts. A pianist and freelance writer, she and her husband, novelist Matthew Quick, live in New England. ...more
More about Alicia Bessette...

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