Two young girls grow up side by side in San Francisco’s Pacific Heights district, but they live totally separate lives. Julia St. Clair is the wealthy daughter of Lolly and Tad; Annie Quintana’s mother Lucia fled Ecuador as a teenage single mom, and now works as a nanny/cook for the St. Clairs.
Over the years, however, the girls become best friends, attend the same schools (thanks to the largesse of the St. Clairs), and seemingly are like family to one another.
But what happens during the high school years, and how Julia played a role in those changes, will inform their lives for more than a decade. Annie’s mother’s death is like the final event that breaks the bond.
When Julia comes back to SF after living a successful life in New York, the women connect again when Annie caters a charity luncheon at the St. Clair home.
Julia reaches out to Annie with a business proposition: she wants to invest capital and help start up a cupcakery with Annie, whose talent for cupcakes borders on perfection. The contract includes a clause where Julia will exit the business after she marries in about a year. So, despite her reservations, Annie agrees.
But what secrets have captured Julia that could devastate her future? And what strange events happening regularly at the Mission District cupcakery dubbed “Treat” could threaten their security, their futures, and possibly their lives?
How to Eat a Cupcake: A Novel is narrated alternately between Julia and Annie. Just when I thought Julia could not be more annoying or self-absorbed, I would read her story and start to understand her perspective. Annie’s sharp wit and sarcasm evaporate when, in her voice, we come to understand the loneliness, the sadness, and the hurt that have populated her life. I really felt that something important could happen between them, but instead, we see the conflicts and misunderstandings dissipate rather quickly after a horrific event at the cupcakery. Perhaps that moment could have made everything clear to them, but I don’t think emotional distance could dissolve with such ease.
What kept me rapidly turning pages, however, were the mysterious events at the cupcakery and trying to sort out who was vandalizing and threatening them. I had it figured out before the end, but there was still some suspense as the exciting and dangerous events kept unfolding until the final piece fell into place. I also loved the delicious descriptions of the cupcakes and the unique presentations of each of them. A delectable cozy read with a few plot points that didn’t work for me. Four stars.