The all you can dream buffet

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Praise for the Novels of Barbara O’Neal

The Garden of Happy Endings

“What I always love about Barbara O’Neal’s writing is that her voice is amazing and the layers of the story pull through the book to create a richness that I can’t compare to anyone else’s. The imagery in the garden is as rich as the soil, as is the provocative tale of Elsa’s pilgrimage through Spain. I was so captivated by the characters and this story that although I rushed to finish, I never wanted it to end. In full disclosure, I did go through a good number of tissues, but I laughed as well. I love that this is a wonderfully written book that was a pleasure to read and which I can’t wait to hand out to everyone I know.” —

“Powerful and effective … This book shows the power of ‘good energy,’ the healing power of community, the comfort of health food and the value of giving.… A meaningful story many readers will not soon forget. O’Neal offers her best work yet.”

—The Free Lance-Star

“This novel is vivid and honest. Hopeful and calming. Powerful and evocative. Subtle and charming. I devoured it.” —Bookfinds

“Warm, comforting … A book that offers happy … endings.”

—Kirkus Reviews

How to Bake a Perfect Life

“Mothers and daughters are at the heart of this beautiful novel by O’Neal.… Highly recommended.”

—Library Journal(starred review)

“Absorbing … O’Neal’s tale of strong-willed women and torn family loyalties is a cut above the standard women’s fiction fare, held together by lovingly sketched characters and real emotion.”

—Publishers Weekly

“Envelops you like the scent of warm bread, comforting and invigorating, full of love and forgiveness and possibility.”

—Erica Bauermeister, bestselling author ofThe School of Essential Ingredients

“This book will have you smiling and crying and pining for an old love, or just a hunk of really good fresh-baked bread. I loved every single delicious bite.” —Jennie Shortridge, author ofWhen She Flew

The Secret of Everything

“O’Neal has created a powerful and intriguing story rich in detailed and vivid descriptions of the Southwest.” —Booklist

“Readers will identify with this story and the multilayered characters.… And with some of the tantalizing recipes for dishes served at the 100 Breakfasts Café included, O’Neal provides a feast not only for the imagination but the taste buds as well.”

—Romantic Times

“Barbara O’Neal has masterfully woven local culture, the beauty of nature, her love of food and restaurants, and a little romance into this magnificent novel.” —Fresh Fiction

The Lost Recipe for Happiness

“The Lost Recipe for Happinessis a delectable banquet for the reader.… This book is as delicious as the recipes interspersed throughout an incredible story.”

—Susan Wiggs,New York Timesbestselling author

“The Lost Recipe for Happinessis utterly magical and fantastically sensual. It’s as dark and deep and sweet as chocolate. I want to live in this book.… A total triumph.”

—Sarah Addison Allen,New York Timesbestselling author

“Beautiful writing, good storytelling and an endearing heroine set against the backdrop of Aspen, Colorado, are highlights of O’Neal’s novel. A tale that intertwines food, friendship, passion, and love in such a delectable mix is one to truly savor until the very last page.” —Romantic Times

“Will appeal to women’s fiction fans and foodies, who will enjoy the intriguing recipes … laced through the book.”

—St. Petersburg Times

The All You Can Dream Buffetis a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

A Bantam Books Trade Paperback Original

Copyright © 2014 by Barbara Samuel

All rights reserved.

Published in the United States by Bantam Books, an imprint of Random House, a division of Random House LLC, a Penguin Random House Company, New York.

BANTAMBOOKSand the HOUSEcolophon are registered trademarks of Random House LLC.


O’Neal, Barbara, 1959-The all you can dream buffet : a novel / Barbara O’Neal.pages   cmISBN 978-0-345-53686-0eBook ISBN 978-0-345-53687-71. Older women—Fiction.   2. Friendship—Fiction.3. Organic farming—Fiction.   I. Title.PS3573.I485F53 2013813.54—dc232013016913

All photograph credits appear onthis page.

Book design by Virginia Norey




Title Page



Chapter 1Chapter 2Chapter 3Chapter 4Chapter 5Chapter 6Chapter 7Chapter 8Chapter 9Chapter 10Chapter 11Chapter 12Chapter 13Chapter 14Chapter 15Chapter 16Chapter 17Chapter 18Chapter 19Chapter 20Chapter 21Chapter 22Chapter 23Chapter 24Chapter 25Chapter 26Chapter 27Chapter 28Chapter 29Chapter 30Chapter 31Chapter 32Chapter 33Chapter 34Chapter 35Chapter 36Chapter 37Chapter 38Chapter 39Chapter 40Chapter 41Chapter 42Chapter 43



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Lavender Honey Farms

yamhill co., oregon

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Dining partners, regardless of gender, social standing, or the years they’ve lived, should be chosen for their ability to eat—and drink!—with the right mixture of abandon and restraint. They should enjoy food, and look upon its preparation and its degustation as one of the human arts.

—M.F.K. FISHER,Serve It Forth


In the stillness just after dawn, Lavender Wills walked the perimeter of the farm, as she did every morning. Rain or shine—and it could be a lot of rain in the Willamette Valley in Oregon—she strode with her dogs along the lavender fields and the greenhouses, following the line of the fields where meat chickens were pastured in movable pens, checking to be sure they hadn’t been raided overnight. She eyed the fences around the chicken houses and rounded the beehives, then headed back along the vegetable fields, some of them still tucked under their temporary spring blankets of easily constructed and deconstructed plastic greenhouses.

It was nearly a five-mile walk, counting detours. It kept her alert and healthy, and even now, at eighty-four, she made the distance without much trouble, most days.

Most days.

Every now and again lately, she could feel the shadow of time following along behind her. She glimpsed herself walking this path at four and eighteen before she left to seek adventure, at thirty-two and forty-six, home to visit, at fifty-seven and seventy-three, running the place at last. Always rangy, always walking this same path, forward or backward, always with a dog or two or three. Border collies, mostly, such good working dogs. There had been so many over the years, but she could remember the names of all of them. Jacob and Mike and Andy,Percival and Athena and her beloved Rome, the best of the lot, gone three years now.

Many more. Humans, too. She’d outlived all four of her siblings, despite being the oldest. Her parents were long gone, as were any cousins she knew about and a nephew she mourned deeply. Even most of her friends were gone now.

Sometimes, walking the perimeter, she imagined she spied one or another of them, people or canines. Someone she had loved once upon a time. Her mother, wearing a straw hat as she picked raspberries. Her grade-school friend Reine, who’d died only last spring, looking for mushrooms. Sometimes she saw Rome trotting just ahead, his black coat gleaming, tail high and swishing.

She had no preternatural warning that she might be ready to toddle off this good earth; in fact, she felt as hale and hearty as ever, despite the odd creaks. Her mind was still pretty sharp, sharp enough that she kept up a blog three times a week, a venture that had begun as a marketing gimmick a decade ago and had become much, much more. It was her forum, a place to express her love of the land, of the right and honorable way to bring food to the table, of the way to care for food animals and to grow healthy vegetables in uncontaminated soil. It was the way she had connected with three other bloggers, too, forming a tight-knit group they called the Foodie Four.

Mainly, it gave her an excuse to revel in her passion for lavender—growing it, harvesting it, using it.

No, she felt plenty lively.

And yet … this morning she had awakened in the predawn quiet, and knowledge filled her. Life circled. The land taught you that. Soon or late, she’d sleep in the earth she had tended all of her life. What would become of the farm then? This farm, which had been her greatest achievement.

She could not let it pass into the hands of her remaining, indifferent nephews, two of them, businessmen in Portland who rarely came to visit. They had no love of the land, and they would sell it. She didn’t blame them. But it was too valuable, too important to the growing organic movement, to let just anyone buy it.

As she walked, she mused. Lavender and honey, fresh eggs and fine wool. An empire for the right heir. An honorable heir.

It was only as she turned the last corner that she saw Ginger near the beehives, her long red hair loose over her shoulders, her face young and remarkably beautiful again. It was the first time Lavender had seen this particular ghost, her friend of nearly sixty years, who had died last year in Carmel. She was kneeling to gather wildflowers from the forest, her knees bending just as they should, her hands—the hands that had betrayed her in the end—free of the gnarled knots that had ruined them. Lavender waited, but Ginger did not turn, did not seem to know Lavender was there.

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