Judith Ryan Hendricks
Hendricks’ second book is a departure from the cozy Seattle she wrote about in Bread Alone, and returned to in The Baker’s Apprentice. This time, the setting is New Mexico, primarily in and around Santa Fe, and instead of bread, the main themes are art, herbs, and family.
Avery James, raised in an orphanage with only an embroidered t-shirt as a memento of the family she never knew, comes face to face with a painting of her mother while working as a caterer for a prominent artist. He befriends her, and offers to tell her about her mother, who died several years before, and she grudgingly accepts the offer. Swirling around the pair are rumors, old lovers, and a collection of old Mexican women who took Avery off the streets, and gave her a home, and their knowledge of herbs.
Like Bread Alone, Isabel’s Daughter paints vivid pictures of both people and food, but unlike Hendrick’s first book, this one’s ending is somewhat more bitter than sweet.