Score: 4/5 Bookmarks
I listened to the audio-book version of Gingerbread by Helen Oyeyemi, and I dare say I may have loved it even more than had I simply read the book. The author narrates the book herself and has such a wonderful reading voice and was animated or subdued in all the right places to help the story really come alive. I'm always so impressed when an author is also a wonderful narrator because it is not often the case.
The story was also so clever and able to keep my interest from beginning to end without pause. I don’t want to give anything away, but the characters were rich, the twists unexpected and delightful, and the gingerbread delicious. In fact, I think I'll go make some now.
I got the audiobook via Libro.fm. If you haven’t heard of them, you should definitely check them out. They give a portion of the proceeds back to the local bookshop that you nominate! If you use my referral code you’ll get your first audiobook for free!
Influenced by the mysterious place gingerbread holds in classic children's stories--equal parts wholesome and uncanny, from the tantalizing witch's house in "Hansel and Gretel" to the man-shaped confection who one day decides to run as fast as he can--beloved novelist Helen Oyeyemi invites readers into a delightful tale of a surprising family legacy, in which the inheritance is a recipe.
Perdita Lee may appear to be your average British schoolgirl; Harriet Lee may seem just a working mother trying to penetrate the school social hierarchy; but there are signs that they might not be as normal as they think they are. For one thing, they share a gold-painted, seventh-floor walk-up apartment with some surprisingly verbal vegetation. And then there's the gingerbread they make. Londoners may find themselves able to take or leave it, but it's very popular in Druhástrana, the far-away (and, according to Wikipedia, non-existent) land of Harriet Lee's early youth. In fact, the world's truest lover of the Lee family gingerbread is Harriet's charismatic childhood friend, Gretel Kercheval--a figure who seems to have had a hand in everything (good or bad) that has happened to Harriet since they met.
Decades later, when teenaged Perdita sets out to find her mother's long-lost friend, it prompts a new telling of Harriet's story. As the book follows the Lees through encounters with jealousy, ambition, family grudges, work, wealth, and real estate, gingerbread seems to be the one thing that reliably holds a constant value. Endlessly surprising and satisfying, written with Helen Oyeyemi's inimitable style and imagination, it is a true feast for the reader.