It’s official: I’m packing up and moving to Guthrie, Vermont!
Okay, so I can’t actually move to Guthrie because, well, it’s fictional, but after reading Louise Miller’s debut novel, The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living, two years ago, I fell truly, madly in love with everything about the quaint little town. Now, with her sophomore release, The Late Bloomers’ Club, Miller opens up Guthrie’s gates again with a tale that is as warm, winning, and wonderful as they come, solidifying the author (and the town!) as one of my absolute favorites.
The Late Bloomers’ Club introduces us to Nora Huckleberry, owner of her late parents’ beloved Miss Guthrie Diner, where locals and tourists alike gather for hearty breakfasts, not-quite-homemade desserts, and plenty of good, old-fashioned small town chatter. Nora is content dedicating her days to her customers and the community, but when she discovers that she and her sister are set to inherit the home and land of Guthrie’s dearly departed cake lady, Peggy Johnson, everything about her complacent life is stirred into a frenzy. As word gets out that a commercial developer wants to buy the land, everyone from her penniless, filmmaker sister, Kit, to the town’s small business owners has an opinion. To top it all off, Nora must also focus on finding Peggy’s missing dog and carrying out the orders for the baker’s famous burnt sugar cake. While weighing what’s best for everyone around her and trying to tap into the heart of Peggy’s wishes, Nora—for the first time—must consider her own desires and decide where she wants her path in life to lead.
Louise Miller is masterful at exploring themes we can all relate to—the complexities of family dynamics, the roles we find ourselves falling into, the way others see us versus the ways we see ourselves. Every ounce of The Late Bloomers’ Club drips with heart, and from the moment I stepped into the Miss Guthrie Diner, I was filled with joy, comfort, and care for the book’s oh-so-real inhabitants. It felt so good to be back in Guthrie again, and even though this is a stand-alone novel, I loved the natural way characters from The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living weaved themselves into the story. Miller does an exceptional job at bringing not only a sense of place, but a true sense of community to the page. I felt like an honorary Guthrie resident, waiting for the latest town news in the Guthrie Front Porch Forum, eager for the excitement of the annual Corn and Tomato Festival, and dying for a big piece of that burnt sugar cake with maple icing—which is naturally why I had to make it using the recipe in the book.
It. Was. Heavenly. Flavorful and tender with icing that makes you want to lick your plate. Let’s just say it’s a really great thing when the author is also a pastry chef.
The Late Bloomers’ Club is a beautiful tale of kinship, identity, love, and new beginnings, and I couldn’t have loved it more. It begs to be read with a cozy blanket, a hot cup of tea or cider, and, of course, a dessert as sweet as the town of Guthrie. I would love to see both of Louise Miller’s novels come to life on the big screen or on the Hallmark channel. If you’re looking for a novel that will give you all the warm and fuzzies inside, take my advice: Read The Late Bloomers’ Club. Make the cake. Enjoy every morsel of both.