Ever since my entrée into the world of author Barbara O’Neal/Barbara Samuel, which happened with The Goddesses of Kitchen Avenue, I have eagerly awaited her stories and then devoured them in one sitting. Tonight I finished her latest book, The All You Can Dream Buffet, and then went to bed. I woke up an hour later, wide awake and filled with the desire to know what was happening in the world of her characters. So I decided to blog about them. I’m up anyway, so why not? : )
Before I talk about the book though, I’d love to talk about the author. I know Barbara enough to stop by her signing events at conferences, and say hello. I know her from talks she’s given, writings on her own blog, and her participation on blogs that I favor. But I don’t really know her; I only think that I do. For me, and many other readers, the lyrical prose of this author’s stories sweeps me up, pulls me in, and never lets go even long after the final page is read. There are so many beautiful, sensual details in her stories that as the reader you truly feel you are experiencing this world through the use of all of your senses, including the sixth. There is something about these stories that seems on one level religious, and yet transcends the religious to become spiritual, soulful, and universal. There is a deep understanding of nature, life, the cycles of birth and death, overcoming adversity, courage to move forward, and always, always, love that encompasses all of mankind.
One thing in this latest book that was a total surprise and delight for me was the love for the chickens on the farm. A simple thing, you might think. Maybe even a silly thing to talk about chickens in a story of love and loss. Yet, when the chickens were mentioned I could visualize them. I could hear them. I smiled. How many years has it been since I was a child and given the job of feeding the chickens? More than fifty, and while chickens may not have been foremost in my thoughts in the last fifty years, I remembered my feelings about them through this story. I remembered naming them. I recalled my brother carrying around a black chicken with a lame leg. He’d named her Limpy. I thought of the cold mornings mumbling and grumbling and stepping in droppings as I went about feeding them before going to school, and of the joy of collecting the eggs, and of the feistiness of the roosters.
But back to the book: The All You Can Dream Buffet is a story of love on many levels. The main characters are four women from different parts of the United States who are foodie bloggers, and who become friends. It’s about the love of the family we choose and not necessarily the family we’re born into. It’s a story about courage, growth, and recognizing that we have the right to fulfillment. There are so many ways to remain stuck in life, to give up on happiness, to maintain the status quo, to be the “good” person. There are so many ways to seek happiness through others, instead of digging deep into our own souls and recognizing that to be alone does not mean to be lonely. On the other hand, the story explores openness to new relationships, and hurt and pain of a broken heart, and the willingness to take that risk and give love another try.
Here is the link to the blurb: http://tinyurl.com/mromda6
I highly recommend this book. It has a leisurely beginning, allowing you to sink into the world of these characters, to know each one in depth. There is no hurry. Sit back, relax, and let the sights, smells, and sounds of the Lavender Honey Farms sweep you away.
To learn more about the author please visit: www.barbaraoneal.com