What they say:
In 1966, Kathleen Eaden, cookbook writer and wife of a supermarket magnate, published The Art of Baking, her guide to nurturing a family by creating the most exquisite pastries, biscuits and cakes. Now, five amateur bakers are competing to become the New Mrs. Eaden. There’s Jenny, facing an empty nest now that her family has flown; Claire, who has sacrificed her dreams for her daughter; Mike, trying to parent his two kids after his wife’s death; Vicki, who has dropped everything to be at home with her baby boy; and Karen, perfect Karen, who knows what it’s like to have nothing and is determined her facade shouldn’t slip.
As unlikely alliances are forged and secrets rise to the surface, making the choicest pastry seems the least of the contestants’ problems. For they will learn–as as Mrs. Eaden did before them–that while perfection is possible in the kitchen, it’s very much harder in life.
What we say – review by Charlotte Foreman:
The Art of Baking Blind is the literary version of The Great British Bake Off, with the added extra of an in-depth look at the contestants lives. For me, this read was as addictive as the calorie laden delights cooked up at regular intervals throughout the book. The writing is beautiful and light yet full of meaning. One minute you’re hypnotised by dreamy descriptions of sweet and savoury treats and the next, having your heartstrings tugged by the inner struggles of the characters.
The five amateur bakers and their backgrounds are a mixed bag, but Kathleen in particular jumped out at me. With excerpts of her eloquent cook book, The Art of Baking, heading some chapters and flashbacks of her life scattered throughout, she turns out to be a much more complicated character than initially appears. Jenny, with her warm, homely nature, was also another favourite of mine.
I’m not sure if it was the food or Sarah Vaughan’s excellent writing overall but I found the book oddly comforting. It shows that no matter how perfect life can seem on the face of things, there are always cracks and strains to be found.
An absolute smasher of a debut and an author I shall be looking out for in the future.