The Art of Baking Blind by Sarah Vaughan

31st March 2016

What the publisher says:

Five amateur bakers compete in a baking competition and discover that the vision of perfect domesticity they aspire to may not be the whole truth. For book club readers everywhere whose tastes range from The HelpOne Dayand The Other Hand to Katie Fforde and Gill Hornby.

There are many reasons to bake: to feed; to create; to impress; to nourish; to define ourselves; and, sometimes, it has to be said, to perfect. But often we bake to fill a hunger that would be better filled by a simple gesture from a dear one. We bake to love and be loved.

In 1966, Kathleen Eaden, cookery 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 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 façade shouldn’t slip.

As unlikely alliances are forged and secrets rise to the surface, making the choicest choux bun seems the least of the contestants’ problems. For they will learn – as Mrs Eaden did before them – that while perfection is possible in the kitchen, it’s very much harder in life.

What I say:

I picked up this book as part of the 3 for £5 deal in The Works store and I was pleasantly surprised by just how much I enjoyed it.  There are five main characters all vying to be named the New Mrs Eaden and they are all distinct with their own story so despite the problems this could cause it actually makes for a very good story.

Jenny suspects her husband is having an affair and deals with this and her grown up daughters leaving home by throwing herself into her cooking, finding the strength to leave her husband when he does not support her in the competition.  Karen had a troubled childhood from which she has tried to protect her own children but is caught out when her son suddenly goes off the rails. Claire is a single mum trying to resist her daughter’s father when he comes back onto the scene once she starts to achieve success in the competition.  Mike too is a single parent, grieving for the loss of his wife and trying his best as the token man in the competition.  Vicki is finding herself increasingly frustrated with herself as she comes to terms with life at home with a toddler rather than going out to work.

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