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By Bread Alone

3.56  ·  Rating details ·  781 Ratings  ·  98 Reviews
'Esme's bread begged to be eaten. It pleaded. It beseeched. You simply could not be in the same room as her sourdough without licking your lips and instantly realising it was exactly what you felt like eating. No, more than that. It was exactly what you had been missing.'

But all is not well in the House in the Clouds. Pog's gorgeous, garrulous, glutinous wife, Esme, is not
Paperback, 318 pages
Published November 7th 2003 by Black Swan
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Beth Peninger
Dec 26, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is my second Sarah-Kate Lynch book. As with "Blessed are the Cheesemakers" she weaves a wonderful story around a food item. Certain foods don't take just skill and knowledge to make but they take passion, love, care. It truly makes a difference. I bake and I will only do so when I feel "the love" otherwise my baking turns out slightly off, tasting not quite so good, lacking depth. You might think I'm just sayig that but I assure you it is true.
By Bread Alone is about the art of breadmaking
Mar 07, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2015
By Bread Alone is a well written, well thought out story. Esme is a woman in crisis, although she'd rather everyone around her thought she is fine. Her husband Pog misses the sourdough bread she is so good at baking, her father-in-law grumps at her, her grandma gives her some advice and her four year old son Rory prefers to call her Esme.

The family lives in a tall house, called House of the Clouds, with the kitchen at the top in Suffolk. There has been some effort made to live an idyllic country
Dec 01, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book did something I hate. For the first three quarters it has me hate the protagonist from the bottom of my guts and feel absolutely no compassion for her. I as a reader am given absolutely no reason to feel for her, and want her to succeed. Flashbacks from her past just strengthen this. You were nineteen, for God's sake.

Then, after the three quarters, the protagonist's personality and deeds are redeemed by a tragic event that, had it been told earlier and in a more eloquent way than a fla
Jun 21, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked it, but I didn't love it. I fell for all the tricks, which is a good sign. Three things though:
1.) The level of suspension of disbelief is very, very, very high. Given her circumstances, her choices don't add up.

2.) The character of Pog, the husband, isn't believable. I'd bet money the author set him up as a similar character to her own husband, highlighting his best qualities. I didn't like him because he lacked flaws... other than a being dull (to me, not the main character) and havin
Patricia Williams
Feb 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was another really good love story. I've been reading a lot of these lately but if they're good, I love them. This one had a story going on that you did not learn about until the middle of the book, then there was another twist at the end that I did not see coming at all. I have read another book by this author "Blessed are the Cheesemakers" which was very good also. I will read more books by this author.
May 29, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love Sarah-Kate Lynch's novels. They have at their core an item of food or drink - cheese, champagne, bread, baking, honey, or have a backdrop of food - and love. All so delicious, a tasty treat, with surprises and a bit of magic thrown in.

In this story, it is the sourdough starter which is the magic ingredient - 'the living, breathing, bubbling mixture of the past and the present that ... added to every batch of flour and water to turn it inot the future.' It is the starter that forms the lin
Jun 17, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorite-authors
No matter if you've dearly loved one of Sarah-Kate Lynch's novels, as I have recently with "The Wedding Bees," the first of hers that I read, she tends to do something utterly frustrating at the beginning of her novels. With "The Wedding Bees," it was not using American vernacular in the early pages in what was clearly an American setting, yet in hindsight, with all the joy and love and happiness that novel contained, it was all right and actually made sense.

This time, in "By Bread Alone," Lynch
Jul 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another wonderful read by probably my favorite author, Sarah-Kate Lynch. This one, set in England and France, tells the tale of Esme, who has faced terrible pain in her life, and wonders what it would be like if she was still with her first love. As with Lynch's other books, there is a food/drink focus - this time sourdough bread. And, as when I read "Blessed are the Cheesemakers" and "House of Daughters", I found that I absolutely had to run to the store to satisfy my taste buds! One thing - if ...more
Dec 19, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The bits about baking and the historical aspects were intresting, but the story of the main character Esme was annoying. Very much in the same way as the character from Eat, Pray, Love. This would be a good book for a plane ride or a beach read where you can skim for the parts that are intresting otherwise I would not waste your time. Totally not worth the late fees I incurred to finish this book.
Sue Kozlowski
Aug 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Awesome! I loved it and couldn't put it down. Esme lives England with her husband and son Rory. Esme had an affair with a baker Louis when she was younger. She now meets up with him in London again. There was something about this story that I loved.
May 20, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Ugh. This was just not a good book. Her others are so much better. DO NOT LET THIS BE THE FIRST Sarah-Kate Lynch book you read. Otherwise, you won't want to read any of her others.
I loved the author's previous book which I found whimsical and delightful (i.e. "Blessed are the Cheesemakers")

This book was a disappointment after that reading experience.
Aug 01, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lynch smartly used flashbacks to lead us through the story. It was easy to be romanced by her first love, just like she was. I actually cried in the end; for all the characters.
Chris Conley
Jun 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sarah-Kate Lynch has a delightful way of mixing food and love and a tiny bit of mysticism and creating a terrific book.
Josefa Wann
I read a couple of her books and I really liked them. I didn't care so much for this one. I disliked the main female character, she was selfish and annoying, her husband was a saint.
Jan 27, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2012, chicklit
La parte migliore di questo romanzo è senza dubbio quella relativa al meraviglioso pain au levain, ovvero pane preparato con il lievito madre (o pasta madre). Il lievito madre è un impasto di farina, acqua, e zuccheri che, mescolati insieme fermentano spontaneamente. Va tenuto attivo provvedendo periodicamente a sostituire una parte del lievito madre con una nuova dose di farina ed acqua. Quando si vuole preparare il pane, bisogna utilizzare il lievito madre nella misura di circa un terzo rispet ...more
The Cats Mother
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Feb 26, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: gluttons for punishment
A half-baked "Bridget Jones" wanna-be tale filled with cutesy slang and annoying implausible characters. The story meandered between being a joyous romp and a maudlin romance. The sourdough bread that was featured throughout the book probably sounds good to people who don't bake bread. But two giant flaws in the bread section drove me mad: 1) the instruction to oil the rising bowl and 2) the fact that a seasoned baker would slice into a loaf of sourdough just out of the oven. There is no way tha ...more
All'inizio è un po' lento e oscuro, ci ho messo un po' a farmi prendere dalla storia: poi un po' alla volta sono rimasta impastata come il sale nel pane e non me ne sono affatto pentita.
Tra un presente di dolore e rinascita, con due eventi che hanno sconvolto la vita dei protagonisti, di cui uno si sa che è avvenuto ma non se ne parla, mentre dell'altro si intuisce la presenza ma non si riesce ad inquadrare fino alla fine, e un passato di ricordi dolceamari, le vicende di Esme e della sua bizzar
Sep 24, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
i decided to read this book because my friend recomended it to me and said it was really good. it fits into the category ' a book written by a New Zealander' which is a interesting category because its one of our own favourite quote from this book is "“Help!” she gasped, as the hoof beats got closer. The Goat had very pointy horns, after all, and hysteria was snatching at her as she imagined those horns piercing her bottom and removing big chunks" because it makes me laugh. i learned ...more
Oct 16, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I connected solidly with the idea that when you're completely stressed out by the present, it's easy to decide that the past is where you really used to be happy, and you put yourself and your present life in danger of death-by-nostalgia. Fortunately for this miserable heroine, she gets the opportunity to return to a past love and figures out that the present is where it's at, and that shared history (both happy and sad) makes for greater happiness than nostalgia. Agrees with my own life experie ...more
Sep 28, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would actually give this one 3 and 1/2 stars. It was a fun read. The author is getting better, in my opinion. Though some of what was going on was supposed to turn out to be surprising, I thought it was obvious. That was ok though as it really took nothing away from the story, as far as I am concerned. What we dream about, how we handle loss, especially the worst loss imaginable, the meaning of family (even when it is unconventional)and friendship are all explored with varying degrees of succe ...more
If there were 3.5's I would give this book that rating. Having read another of the author's books, House of Daughters, I bought some of her other books. I found this one a bit hard to get into and I would read a few chapters, then set it aside and read another book. Finally, it seemed to kick in about halfway through and I ended up really enjoying it and finishing it in a couple days. Funny and sad at the same time, it also makes me--the non-bread baker want to make a starter and bake pain au le ...more
Jul 12, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
There are parts of this book I really loved: the description of bread-making, the quirky family living together, and Esme's reflections on her life. I enjoyed reading the story and stayed up until 2 to finish it off. But there were some pretty big things I didn't like: mentioning the family's "heartbreak" over and over but not revealing it until halfway through, too many details during the intimate scenes, and a couple of the choices Esme makes. Another plus--a happy ending.
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
I started this book to counterbalance reading We wish to inform you tha tomorrow we will be killed with our families, but it turned out that By Bread Alone, despite its gentle title and lovely cover, is a pretty dark book, too. The characters were quirky and the plot was just slightly to the left of expected. There was a small forced quality to the story that made me lower my overall evaluation of it, but while it detracts from the book, it does not ruin the book.
Feb 20, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: f-women, f-general
By the author of Blessed are the Cheesemakers, I wasn't disappointed. Esme, a winsome young girl loves to bake bread. She falls for a handsome baker in France who, predictably, leaves her because he's married.....Later she's somewhat happily married in England, has two sons, and continues to bake bread as a homemaker until one day she just quits....the book starts slowly but ends wonderfully full of sadness, dreams and the soothing healing of bread.....
Jun 16, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
After reading Blessed are the Cheesemakers, I really wanted to like this book. I tried. I looked for characters I could like. The pain and conflict experienced by the protagonist was just too present. It swamped the rest of the book although it did get fully resolved by the end of the book. The ending was perfectly acceptable and everyone ended better than they started. The book is probably a great book, and I'm just not the target audience.
Ich kann mich sehr gut an das Cover erinnern, an den Inhalt leider überhaupt nicht. Auch das Lesen von einigen Rezensionen half mir nicht auf die Sprünge. Und obwohl ich dieses Buch bei Bookcrossing gelesen habe, habe ich damals keinen Eintrag nach dem Lesen gemacht. Soo super wird es also wohl nicht gewesen sein, sonst hätte ich gewiss etwas geschrieben, und es wäre mir besser in Erinnerung geblieben. Wahrscheinlich eher nur ganz mittelmäßige Kost.
Aug 07, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
After reading Blessed are the Cheesemakers it was a disappointment, seemed quite slow moving and the story was not as interesting.

Re-reading it after reading Dolce di Love, I'm liking it better than the first time around. It is a slower story though. I now remember that, more like On Top of Everything, it was a sad story.
I think that's one of the reasons I didn't like it so much.
Jul 20, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book slow reading, the characters annoying and the plot silly. A totally self-centered woman is loved by everyone but only seems to care about her demanding grandmother and a summer fling from her teen age years. She ignored her children, husband and best friend so she could focus on a former workmate who was enjoying great success. I do not recommend this book.
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Sweet 1 1 Jul 11, 2013 05:02AM  
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Sarah-Kate Lynch is quite a cranky journalist of several decades who prefers making things up to recording them accurately. This is not very good if you are a journalist, which may explain (a) the crankiness and (b) why she now writes novels.

She also writes two columns in the New Zealand Woman's Day, New Zealand's best-selling weekly magazine. One is about nothing and the other is about travel.

More about Sarah-Kate Lynch...

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