Synopses & Reviews
A baker in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, must travel to Paris to uncover a family secret for her dying grandmother—and what she learns may change everything. The Sweetness of Forgetting
is the book that made Kristin Harmel an international bestseller.
At thirty-six, Hope McKenna-Smith is no stranger to bad news. She lost her mother to cancer, her husband left her for a twenty-two year old, and her bank account is nearly depleted. Her own dreams of becoming a lawyer long gone, she’s running a failing family bakery on Cape Cod and raising a troubled preteen.
Now, Hope’s beloved French-born grandmother Mamie, who wowed the Cape with her fabulous pastries for more than fifty years, is drifting away into a haze of Alzheimer’s. But in a rare moment of clarity, Mamie realizes that unless she tells Hope about the past, the secrets she has held on to for so many years will soon be lost forever. Tantalizingly, she reveals mysterious snippets of a tragic history in Paris. And then, arming her with a scrawled list of names, she sends Hope to France to uncover a seventy-year-old mystery.
Hope’s emotional journey takes her through the bakeries of Paris and three religious traditions, all guided by Mamie’s fairy tales and the sweet tastes of home. As Hope pieces together her family’s history, she finds horrific Holocaust stories mixed with powerful testimonies of her family’s will to survive in a world gone mad. And to reunite two lovers torn apart by terror, all she’ll need is a dash of courage, and the belief that God exists everywhere, even in cake...
"Hope McKenna-Smith struggles to run the family bakery on Cape Cod while coping with a recent divorce; a churlish preteen daughter named Annie; and a grandmother, Rose, who is quickly succumbing to Alzheimer's. During one of Hope's visits, Rose in a rare and desperate moment of lucidity gives Hope a list of seven relatives whom Rose last saw in WWII-era France, and begs her to track them down so she might know their fates. Urged along by Annie, Hope abandons the bakery and jets to Paris. There she unearths family secrets buried for decades, and while Rose's memory fades away, Hope comes face to face with the people and places of her grandmother's past one of fear, world war, and a clandestine, far-reaching love. Despite hackneyed dialogue (Annie uses 'like' in nearly every sentence) and the challenge of working in well-trod territory, Harmel (After) manages to deliver an immersive and evocative tale of generations struggling to survive. Recipes sprinkled throughout the book allow readers to experience firsthand the sweetness of Hope's journey. Agent: Holly Root, Waxman Literary." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
“Kristin Harmel writes with such insight and heart that her characters will stay with you long after you’ve finished her books.”
—New York Times bestselling author Emily Giffin
“Kristin Harmel...[is] one of my favorite authors!”
–Melissa Senate, bestselling author of The Love Goddess’ Cooking School
"Harmel manages to deliver an immersive and evocative tale of generations struggling to survive. Recipes sprinkled throughout the book allow readers to experience firsthand the sweetness of Hope's journey."
"This is the kind of book that stays with you weeks after completion. The novel does not present an optimistic view; it’s a window into the horrors of the time. However, incredibly moving moments of unity and discovery serve as beautiful relief. The ending possesses a joyful finality yet also an extraordinary sense of sorrow that will no doubt bring tears to your eyes."
"THE SWEETNESS OF FORGETTING is absolutely enthralling and full of twists and turns that add to the drama and keeps the tale moving along. Author Kristin Harmel does a magnificent job of telling this saga of one family's search for understanding. She also handles her approach to Alzheimer's disease with gentleness and understanding. Readers will remember THE SWEETNESS OF FORGETTING long after the final page is turned."
"Kristin Harmel's novels are written with a lot of heart and soul. She has a way of bringing the reader into her stories in such a powerful way that they can often forget they're reading at all. The Sweetness of Forgetting may just be Harmel's best book yet."
From the author of Italian for Beginners, a lush, heartwarming novel about a woman who travels to Paris to uncover a family secret for her dying grandmother—and discovers more than she ever imagined…
Hope McKenna-Smith, divorced mother of a surly not-quite-teenage girl, runs her family bakery on Cape Cod, but is starting to wonder what might have been. What if she hadn’t abandoned her dreams of law school? What if she hadn't quit her job to raise her daughter? What if she hadn’t caught her husband cheating on her with a clichÉd blonde bimbo? When her aging grandmother, Rose, summons her to hear a long-held secret, Hope finally has the opportunity to stop thinking “what if?” and start thinking “what now?”
Rose’s memory is ebbing rapidly due to the onset of Alzheimer’s, and she knows she doesn’t have much time left to tell Hope the truth about a secret she’s kept for seventy years. Giving Hope nothing but a list of names, Rose sends her on a journey of discovery that takes Hope to a synagogue and a mosque in Paris, to a history buried in the Holocaust, and to a long-lost love with secrets of his own.
The Sweetness of Forgetting is a story of family, love, honesty…and baked goods.
About the Author
Kristin Harmel is the international bestselling author of The Sweetness of Forgetting, and has also written four previous women’s fiction novels, as well as two young adult novels. Her work has been featured in People, Woman’s Day, Men’s Health, Runner’s World, and Ladies’ Home Journal, among many other media outlets. She lives in Orlando, Florida.