From Goodreads: With the holiday season drawing near, the ladies of Hope Springs, North Carolina, are making plans for a cake cookbook—a project that will hopefully lift the spirits of a beloved member of their close-knit quartet. But Margaret Peele is downhearted and uninspired now that her cancer has returned. All she wants this Christmas is to visit her mother's Texas hometown . . . and to see their absent friend, pastor Charlotte Stewart, who left Hope Springs to run a battered women's shelter. So impulsive Beatrice Newgarden Witherspoon commandeers a very inappropriate—but comfortable—van to transport Margaret, Louise Fisher, and Jessie Jenkins across the country for a Lone Star State reunion with Charlotte. And over the course of a remarkable journey they will rediscover the greatest Christmas gift of all: eternal friendship.
I read Christmas Cake as one of my books for the Holiday Reading Challenge hosted by Nely at all About N. I had actually received it through the Library Thing Early Reviewers program last year but not in enough time to read it for that Christmas season so it hung out for a year in my TBR pile waiting for the holidays to come back around. (During that time I also came across Friendship Cake and it nestled into my TBR pile as well!). Because the challenge was at hand, I read Christmas Cake first despite knowing I was going out of order. Being out of order did not stop me from enjoying the book; Hinton provides all the background needed to fill in a new reader and she does it in an unobtrusive way that blends in with the rest of the story. Each chapter begins with a cake recipe and then the cake itself somehow gets featured in that part of the story. The recipes all sounded absolutely yummy but, big drawback for me, they were all cakes from scratch - sifting flour, measuring sugar and spices, cutting in butter - this I just don’t do. I am an advocate of the boxed cake mix. I may "doctor up" the boxed mix a little bit but in general, I and my family are happy with them just the way they are. If I dare to make an analogy here, I would describe this book as a boxed cake mix kind of book - it's not a fancy, gourmet read but I was happy with it just the way it was. It reminded me of the Mitford books; small town charm, a gentle pace, an exploration of friendships with bits of humor, religion, and sadness all mixed in.
All these recipes make this book a perfect fit for Weekend Cooking hosted by Beth Fish Reads. (Which I would have linked up to had I gotten my post up when I should have!)