Married life is not always bliss, as Ruth, a married mother of two, is finding out. Her normal life with a hospital administrator husband, surly teenage daughter and son at college is quickly disappearing as, within a year, Ruthís mother comes to live with them, her husband loses his job and Ruth begins to wonder if her life is ever going to be happy again. The situation goes from bad to worse when Ruthís father, who has been estranged from his family since Ruth was two years old, calls to announce he has broken both of his wrists and needs to move in with them while he recovers.
Suddenly, Ruth is faced with an unemployed husband who thinks his lifeís dream is to rebuild yachts and two parents who have hated each other for over fifty years and now must live under the same roof. Ruth feels helpless, and the only thing that makes her feel better is baking cakes. And not just ordinary cakes. Ruthís cakes are so distinct and extraordinary that an idea soon forms: maybe Ruth can help save her family with the cakes sheís taken refuge in for so long.
Jeanne Ray weaves a story of an ordinary family faced with some of the same challenges that many other families face. Her situations ring true, and her characters never leave the realm of reality. Rayís characters could easily be your next-door neighbors. Itís nice to read a book about regular people trying to solve regular problems that the reader can relate to.
Ray is not so successful when giving her characters life and spark. Although itís easy to relate to the situations of Ruthís family, itís a bit more difficult to relate to and pull for the characters since they arenít very lifelike. This is most true with Ruth, the main character whom we are supposed to like and support the most. The end of the book also disappoints a bit since Ray feels it necessary to tie up every loose end to guarantee a "happily ever after" conclusion that works against the rest of the bookís sense of reality.
At 253 pages (and the last 24 pages are nothing but cake recipes), Eat Cake can easily be completed in an afternoon. However, the length is not conducive to character development, and Ruthís family never really comes to life. Although it is not as deep or heart-wrenching as some other family dramas out there, Eat Cake is a fine way to spend a few hours of pleasurable, light reading.