Alicia Bessette Simply from Scratch

ISBN 13: 9780525951827

Simply from Scratch

3.5 avg rating
( 961 ratings by Goodreads )
 
9780525951827: Simply from Scratch
View all copies of this ISBN edition:
 
 

Read Alicia Bessette's blogs and view other content on the Penguin Community.



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 camouflage apron even when she's not in the kitchen. That's her widow style.

It's been over a year since Nick died tragically during a post-Katrina relief mission in New Orleans. Long enough, according to the grief pamphlets, to have begun to move on with her life. But Zell is still unable to enter her attic, which is full of Nick memories. She hasn't even turned on her oven because cooking was Nick's chore. That is, until she decides to enter the first annual Desserts that Warm the Soul baking contest, hoping to donate the grand prize to Katrina survivors in Nick's memory.

Meanwhile, Zell's nine-year-old neighbor, Ingrid Knox, is learning to cope with the loneliness of growing up without a mother. With an imagination as big as her heart, Ingrid treasures her doting father but begins to plot how she will meet the woman who abandoned her so many years ago. When an embarrassing baking mishap brings Zell and Ingrid together, they form an unlikely friendship that will alter both of their lives forever. Together, and with the help of a lively and loveable cast of friends and family, Zell and Ingrid embark on winning the Desserts that Warm the Soul contest - and learn that through the many sorrows and joys of life, with a little bit of flour and a pinch of love, anything is possible.
Watch a Video

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

Review:

Marisa De los Santos Reviews Simply from Scratch

The bestselling author of Love Walked In, Marisa De los Santos is an award-winning poet with a Ph.D. in literature and creative writing. She lives in Wilmington, Delaware, with her husband and children.

When I began Alicia Bessette’s Simply from Scratch, I understood immediately that it would contain no easy cures for pain. Consolation would not be sudden or free, swooping down to scoop up Zell—or anyone else because she is not the only character in the book who has suffered an awful loss—in its redemptive arms. From the opening sentences—“I knot Nick’s camouflage apron under my boobs, unable to remember the last time I wore a bra, or preheated an oven. That’s my widow style”—I knew that Zell was a woman who would tough it out.

Her grief is singularly unromantic: daily, matter-of-fact, weary, intensely personal, punctuated by wry humor and tiny heart attacks. She is blindsided by “Memory Smacks” that transport her, reeling, into random, ordinary moments from her marriage to Nick, who died while on a relief mission to New Orleans, following Katrina, his death just another small, immeasurably huge loss amidst rampant tragedy.

All of which is to say that her grief is authentic. All of her is authentic. I fell for Zell. As I read, she was a person I knew, a good person who was not always nice, a strong person who was occasionally helpless, a generous person who could be frustratingly unforgiving. She doesn’t move straight through grief. She zigzags, circles back, gets in her own way. She is human, quirky as all of us are quirky, ordinary and miraculous at the same time.

And she has friends. Wow, we should all have such friends. This book tells a lot of different kinds of stories, but the one that resonated most with me as I read, the one that still sticks with me is its story of friendship, that simple, workaday kind of love that’s as sacred as any kind. Russ, France, Dennis, EJ (sweet, sweet EJ): I loved them through the whole book and love them still. Zell is lucky to have them. So am I.

--Marisa De los Santos


A Q&A with Alicia Bessette

Q: As a journalist, you reported on the relief efforts following Hurricane Katrina. What about that experience inspired you to write Simply from Scratch?

A: In my hometown of Holden, Massachusetts, I was hired at a small, community-centered newspaper (The Landmark) soon after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans. For months, my colleagues and I wrote feature stories about the people in our area of New England who traveled to New Orleans to help rebuild its churches, schools, and libraries. They returned home very moved by what they’d seen and experienced.

Long after I wrote about these volunteers, their words replayed in my mind. I knew I wasn't done writing about them.

Eventually, the novelist’s question came to mind: What if? What if one of those volunteers didn’t make it home to Massachusetts? Characters were born, and my debut novel grew from there.

Q: It’s commonly believed that writers write from experience. What about Simply from Scratch is based on your own personal experience? Are there characters who embody people you know? Is the fictional town of Wippamunk, Massachusetts, based on a real town? Are you anything like the main character, Zell?

A: I feel very connected to central Massachusetts, where I grew up, and I think that’s evident when you read Simply from Scratch. I’ve heard from far-flung readers who strongly relate to the New England setting, even though they’ve never visited.

The characters in Simply from Scratch embody the spirit of experimentation. They have humor and hope and a gleeful curiosity about life in general. Reading should be a pleasure!

When I worked for the newspaper, I wrote a feature about a guy who was somewhat directionless until middle age, when he picked up a chainsaw for the first time in his life and discovered a latent talent: he could carve gorgeous wood sculptures. He was the real-life inspiration for the chainsaw artist in Simply from Scratch.

Zell and I share an artistic temperament and a love of the outdoors. Seeing as she’s a medical illustrator, I think she’s probably more analytical and logical than I am (I’m pretty much one hundred percent right brained). Also, I’m not as brave as she is.

Q: Simply from Scratch is told from three different perspectives: Zell, her husband Nick, and a childhood friend, EJ. Why did you structure the book this way? What did you hope each perspective would bring to the story?

A: My initial draft told only Zell’s story. It achieved the desired funny-but-heartrending effect, but it ran short and left me wondering about other characters.

I composed Nick’s emails next. During editing, thanks to chewy and inspiring conversations with my editor (Dutton’s Erika Imranyi), I revamped Nick’s emails to reveal how his experience in New Orleans changed him. The personal transformation he undergoes during his last days make his death even more tragic, because Zell is stuck wondering about this new man, and how their marriage might have flourished, had he made it back home to her.

Suspecting there was much more to EJ than his “gentle giant” reputation, I wrote his narrative last. I was pleasantly surprised to discover how deeply EJ runs.

Q: The ingredients in Scrumpy Delight, the dessert in the book, are an unusual combination – goat cheese, pineapple, chocolate... What made you decide to combine these particular ingredients? What was the process that led you to select this recipe?

A: I made a list of my favorite things to eat--chocolate, cheese, and fruit--and went from there, remembering the time my mother experimented by grilling pineapple spears and drizzling them with honey. Lots of trial and error was required!

The things we make reflect who we are. The ingredients are unusual, and I think that’s fitting for Zell and Ingrid, who are also unusual.

Q: Your husband, Matthew Quick, is also a writer. What are the greatest challenges and benefits of two writers living under the same roof?

A: IWe have a beautiful partnership. He reads my work, I read his. We spend so much time together, and we talk a lot about books and writing. A new acquaintance recently asked if a marriage of two writers is a “hotbed of neuroses,” and I had to laugh: there is definitely that. But by and large, it’s pretty awesome.

Q: In addition to being a writer, you are also a professional pianist. Did your love of music play a role in Simply from Scratch?

A: Piano is definitely a hobby; my nerves got in the way of any professional musical ambitions I might have had. But I’m proud of my two full-length CDs and hope to make more. Music is a subtle but important theme in Simply from Scratch. Zell totes around Nick’s old record player and listens to Gladys Knight and the Pips on vinyl. The music ushers her through the emotions she needs to feel in order to heal.

(Photo of Alicia Bessette © Karl Seifert)

About the Author:

Alicia Bessette was born and raised in central Massachusetts and graduated from La Salle University in Philadelphia. A pianist and freelance writer, she and her husband, novelist Matthew Quick, live near Philadelphia with their adopted racing greyhound, Stella. Simply from Scratch is Alicia's first novel.

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9781410432568: Simply From Scratch (Thorndike Press Large Print Core Series)

Featured Edition

ISBN 10:  1410432564 ISBN 13:  9781410432568
Publisher: Thorndike Press, 2010
Hardcover

Top Search Results from the AbeBooks Marketplace

1.

Alicia Bessette
Published by Dutton Adult (2010)
ISBN 10: 0525951822 ISBN 13: 9780525951827
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Ergodebooks
(RICHMOND, TX, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Dutton Adult, 2010. Hardcover. Condition: New. Seller Inventory # DADAX0525951822

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 31.98
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: US$ 3.99
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

2.

Bessette, Alicia
Published by Dutton Adult (2010)
ISBN 10: 0525951822 ISBN 13: 9780525951827
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 2
Seller:
Murray Media
(North Miami Beach, FL, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Dutton Adult, 2010. Hardcover. Condition: New. Never used!. Seller Inventory # P110525951822

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 40.91
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds

3.

Alicia Bessette
Published by Dutton Adult (2010)
ISBN 10: 0525951822 ISBN 13: 9780525951827
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 1
Seller:
Irish Booksellers
(Portland, ME, U.S.A.)
Rating
[?]

Book Description Dutton Adult, 2010. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M0525951822

More information about this seller | Contact this seller

Buy New
US$ 62.65
Convert Currency

Add to Basket

Shipping: FREE
Within U.S.A.
Destination, Rates & Speeds