Ruth has always sought refuge in baking - something about the alchemy and fragrance brought her peace and clarity. Between the sulky teenage stranger who was once her daughter, and her perpetually worried mother, who moved in a year ago when her home was robbed, Ruth thought her life was complicated and stressed. When her beloved hospital administrator husband, Sam, came home and told her that a company restructuring meant he was now redundant, it seemed less important than Camille's latest obsession or her mother's fretting about medical bills - he was great at what he did, and would surely have no trouble finding a new job.
Life was a little less rosy the next day, though, and just as the realities of his unemployment were beginning to hit Sam and Ruth, she received a call from her peripatetic musician father, Guy. He'd fallen, breaking both wrists, and has nowhere to go, no way to pay his medical bills. And even though her home is now home to her mother, the woman who raised her alone when Guy took off for greener pastures, Ruth has no choice but to bring her father home from Iowa to stay, at least until his wrists healed.
of course, as her life becomes more complicated Ruth turns even increasingly to baking - her cakes become more intricate and complex. For not only does she has the increasingly strained relationship between her invalid father, unable to do much of anything for himself, and her justifiably pissed off mother to deal with, Guy's influence filters through the household. Most notably affected is Sam, who looses all impetus to seek stable work and instead focuses on his lifelong dream to sail.
Eat Cake is a chick lit novel for the older reader - there's a little romance, but the main narrative is about Ruth's changing life and how she responds to the series of significant but not devastating events. It's about empowerment, as Ruth takes charge of her the family income, turning her hobby into a career, and about taking a new look at what you think you know - most significantly your family.
I enjoyed the ride, but nothing particularly stood out, though that comment's a little unfair as I'm writing this review at least a month after reading the book. - Alex