In Stella Newman’s new novel Pear Shaped, our heroine, Sophie, is a puddings developer for a supermarket chain. Handsome, wealthy, much older James isn’t her usual type, but they begin seeing each other and fall madly in love. Kind of.
By the way, pudding is British for dessert, it doesn’t always mean sweet goo. British desserts for me are either wonderful concoctions of fruit and flaky pastry, or fruit and sponge cake, or they are very, very unappetizing, like different variations on sweet goo. Sophie makes and enjoys both kinds.
I particularly enjoyed some of the work sections, like when a new boss decides Sophie should work with colleagues in Curries and Instant Breakfasts, instead of friends in baking and desserts, or decides that the freezers should be organized by color, and the Phase Four testings. This is when all the developers gather to munch on whatever new dishes are being developed, while pretending it’s entirely for work and quality reasons, and in no way because food is delicious. It’s kind of like a playtest, for desserts.
And, pear-shaped is also British for something going all wrong. The author really gets bad-boyfriend James right — I wanted to love the sweet and adoring things he does so much that I tried to rationalize away his selfish moments. It’s OK that he’s driving his sports car through the bus lane, because he’s taking Sophie on a romantic date! Ignore all his selfish behavior, just like Sophie does! He’s so handsome and makes these wildly romantic gestures (like hand-delivering her favorite cake from Paris) and when he’s being good to Sophie, he’s really, really good.
This is a fun and engaging novel about good food, good friends, and falling in love with a guy who’s just too good to be true.