Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Book Review: Vanity Fare

Vanity Fare: A novel of lattes, literature, and loveAuthor: Megan Caldwell
Publication Date: December 26, 2012
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks

A charming novel about a 40-year-old Brooklyn mother, recently divorced, who starts writing copy for a bakery, discovers a knack for food-related literary puns, and becomes entangled in a love triangle.

Molly Hagan is overwhelmed.

Her husband left her for a younger, blonder woman, her six year-old son is questioning her authority, and now, so is she. In order to pay her Brooklyn rent and keep her son supplied with Pok√©mon and Lego’s-not to mention food and clothing-she has to get a job. Fast.

So when an old friend offers Molly a copywriting position at a new bakery, finding romance is just about the last thing on her mind. But the sexy British pastry chef who's heading up the bakery has other thoughts. And so does Molly when she meets the chef's intimidating business partner-who also happens to have a secret that might prevent Molly from getting her own Happily Ever After

“An answer to my prayers, and I hadn’t even been praying. Not for that, at least – if Hugh suddenly gouged his own eyes out, then I’d know my prayers had been heard.” – Paperback Copy pg. 18

“Take chances like not settle for something – or someone – who is just okay. Take chances like believing in yourself. Take chances like doing something that seems difficult in order to keep your family together.” – Paperback Copy pg. 61

“‘Get used to that feeling. Literary fiction has a lot of those near-miss moments.’” – Paperback Copy pg. 99

“He read Dickens? Shakespeare? Bronte? Be still, my heart. Next he’d be telling me he read Jane Austen. I would’ve guessed he’d only read Machiavelli’s The Prince, at least when he wasn’t perusing The Arrogant Guy’s Guide to Total Intimidation. Funny how impressions could change. At least a little bit.” – Paperback Copy pg. 115

“Mere words – no matter how many you use – cannot describe this rich, dense masterpiece.” – Paperback Copy pg. 217

Molly Hagan’s husband has just left her for a much younger woman, has informed her that he has no job and no money to continue paying her child support, and she has a small child to care for who is constantly questioning her authority and why everyone is leaving them. Molly knows that at this point she has hit rock bottom and needs to find a job and a way to support her family, so when a friend offers her a position as a copywriter for a new bakery she quickly accepts and starts to turn her life around. It becomes Molly’s job to generate publicity for the new bakery and her ideas are amazing. She starts to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but she also foresees a potential love triangle coming on!

This could just be because I am an English major, but I absolutely loved the connection between the literature and the bakery. Molly’s job requires her to generate publicity for the bakery and since the local library is directly across the street, Molly decides it will be best to intertwine the two. Molly comes us with the idea to use literary puns to name the various menu items they serve at the bakery. She comes up with names like: Of Mousse and Men, Catcher in the Rye Bread, A Raisin in the Bun, Lord of the Pies, and Tart of Darkness. For someone who is such a literature nerd like me, this was fabulous. And honestly all throughout the book there were puns and allusions to all things literature! It was by far my favorite part and took some real creativity on the author’s part.

Molly Hagan was an incredible heroine and I constantly had to keep reminding myself that she was a forty year old woman. She did not act or behave like one at all. I imagine that if I ever saw her in person I would think she was much younger. Her take on life is just so refreshing and the way that she sacrifices herself for the love and care of her son is so inspirational. Any other middle aged woman might find herself depressed or sinking further into the metaphorical quicksand, but not Molly. Molly put her big girl panties on and did what she had to do for the sake of her son and her sanity. She was just so motivational as a character and really brought in a breath of fresh air.

I do not know anyone personally that I would not refer this book to and I actually plan to let a few of my close friends borrow my copy. I loved it from start to finish and it will have a nice place forever on the top of my bookshelf!

***Thank you to the publishers for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review***



  1. This book sounds fantastic. I can't wait to read it. Great review!

  2. WOW! Chelsey, thanks for taking the time to read and post a review! I was an English major also, and of course love puns, so there you go. I'm just thrilled you're gonna recommend and lend your book out--thank you!

    Megan Frampton (w/a Megan Caldwell)