I recently just finished The All You Can Dream Buffet by Barbara O’Neal. In short, it’s about four women bloggers who become friends through their online community, meet, and share life-changing experiences with each other. For obvious reasons, I was drawn to this book.
Lavender, owner and operator of Lavender Honey Farms in Oregon, invites three women to visit her farm. Ruby, pregnant and suddenly left by her long-time boyfriend, travels to the farm to heal her broken heart. Ginny, stuck in a bad marriage for several years, buys an Airstream on a whim, and heads cross-country, just her and her dog, leaving her home state of Kansas for the first time in her life. And Val, with her daughter, makes an unplanned stop at the farm after losing her husband and two other daughters in a plane crash.
“The Foodie Four,” as they are known to their online community, are getting together to celebrate Lavender’s eighty-fifth birthday. Or, that is what Lavender leads them to believe. In truth, she is seeking an heir to run her farm once she is gone. What each woman learns about herself and what they experience as a group along the way is what makes these women more like family than friends who have never before met each other in person.
I was originally drawn to Barbara O’Neal’s books by the cover of her first book, The Lost Recipe for Happiness. (Yes, I do in fact pick my books based on their covers.) But obviously, her books are more than their beautiful covers. Each is about a woman who has suffered some personal tragedy, whether it is losing someone she loved or losing some part of herself. In either case, the crux of the books is about the main character coming to terms with her life and finding a new happiness through her pain.
I have to say that I am drawn to these types of books, books in which the main character is on a journey to better him/herself, to find out what he/she is capable of, to learn to live a happy life despite what the past has thrown their way. I am also drawn to the idea of buying an Airstream and heading cross-country to see what adventures await me. Maybe some day I can set out on my own road to see where life takes me. Perhaps…just for the fun of it…
I very much can relate to O’Neal’s latest book—bloggers who know each other only by name and the occasional photo but who feel connected enough to meet in person. From my blog and the Philofaxy community, I have met many wonderful people, some of whom I have met in person. Upon meeting people face-to-face, it feels as though I’m meeting old friends, rather than almost-strangers. Being a member of an online community is a funny thing—you talk about many things with people you do not know, some topics very personal in nature. So when you official meet them for the first time, they know quite a bit about you, and vice versa. You’re not meeting a stranger at all; just putting a live face with the personality you’ve interacted with for quite some time.
If you are looking for a light (but with substance) summer read, I highly recommend The All You Can Dream Buffet, or any of Barbara O’Neal’s books. I’ve not been disappointed with any of them.
*Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with Barbara O’Neal or her books. All opinions are my own.