Review: The Art of Baking Blind by Sarah Vaughan

 

Title: The Art of Baking Blind

Author: Sarah Vaughan

Published: Hodder & Stoughton UK August 2015

Read an Excerpt

Status: Read from August 09 to 10, 2015 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher/netgalley}

My Thoughts:

The Art of Baking Blind is pleasant debut novel for British journalist Sarah Vaughan.

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. A year after her death, a competition is being held to find the ‘New Mrs Eaden’, where the winner will receive a £50,000 contract to advise the supermarket on its selection of baked products, take the lead in an advertising campaign, and write a monthly magazine column. Four women and one man have been chosen to compete, striving for the perfection in the kitchen, that has eluded them in their real lives.

The novel unfolds through the viewpoints of Vaughan’s four main female characters intertwined with Kathleen Eaden’s story, and excerpts from ‘The Art of Baking’.
Vicki, mother to three year old Alfie, is finding being a stay at home mother difficult and is excited by the challenge of the competition. Jenny has given all of herself to her family, but with her daughters having flown the nest and her husband disinterested, baking is all she has left. Karen strives for perfection in all things and views the competition as a way to prove herself. Claire is a hard working single mother who hopes that winning the contest will give her and her daughter a chance to better their lives.

While the contestants strive to turn out perfect pastries and pies every weekend, Vaughan slowly reveals the challenges each woman is facing at home. Jenny, for example, is almost certain her husband is having an affair, while Claire’s daughter’s father makes an unexpected return. There is depth here, though I think perhaps Vaughan spreads herself a little too thin and some of the characters, and their stories, are truncated. Karen’s story finishes quite abruptly, and Mike, the fifth contestant, is little more than a token.

The competition to become the next Mrs Eaden bears similarities to the television show, The Great British Bake Off, though this contest is not televised and there is no weekly elimination. Sadly there are no recipes included in the book, but the descriptions of the contestants offerings, ranging from Chelsea Buns to a Springtime Quiche, are ambrosial and I couldn’t resist baking a simple after school treat for my children when I’d finished the last page.

A story about family, relationships, and the art of baking, I enjoyed this engaging novel.

“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.

Available to purchase via

Hodder & Staughton UK I Amazon UK I BookDepository

Amazon US I Amazon Au I via Booko

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Lisa
    Aug 13, 2015 @ 00:24:50

    This sounds like fun! I’m not usually a fiction-foodie fan at all, but I do need a food-centered book for a challenge I’m doing this year — so this might be the one!

    Like

    Reply

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