Friday, 21 August 2015
** BLOG TOUR ** The Art of Baking Blind by Sarah Vaughan
This book is published by Hodder and is available now, my thanks to the Author and the Publishers for my review copy.
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.
I will start by saying that although rarely drawn in by cover alone, this one is a beauty. There was a small worry at the back of my mind that this book would be to sugary for my tastes. That theory was dispelled as I turned the first page.
This book tells the story of five amateur bakers who enter a competition to become the new Mrs Eaden, Kathleen Eaden wrote recipes and with her husband George successfully had a chain of shops called Eadens.
Throughout the book we get little snippets from each of the bakers lives. We come to understand each inviduals reasons for entering the competition. On the whole it seemed that baking was what held them together much like the sugary glue of their Gingerbread houses.
We also get to read about Kathleen Eaden in the cleverly interspersed chapters throughout. It is these chapters that I relished the most. A beautiful lady with certain heartbreak to tell. I was so sad for her in places. In a time when she was getting to do what she loved, she couldn't be truly happy all of the time.
This book is laid out cleverly in sections like Bread, Cakes, Etc. With clever little snippets from Mrs Eaden's book at the beginning of each chapter.
I think one of the reasons why I loved this book so much is that we most certainly all have a memory of baking or being around baking. I remember my Nan teaching me how to bake and waiting as a child in front of the oven ready for my wares to come out. Usually Rock cakes at that age as you can get away with them looking messy. I remember my Nan always going on about Mrs Beeton and I had just assumed that she was her friend from down the road.
I thought this book has been so beautifully written, with a sublime array characters that each have there own story to tell. There is a wonderful gentleness to it that just drew me in and kept me submerged until I turned the last page and swept up the crumbs. Of course this is the kind of book where you should eat cake whilst reading, isn't it?
If you love quality fiction and either/or Great British Bake Off or films like Julie and Julia, then I recommend this book. I fail to see how you can be disappointed.
I don't usually award stars but if I did, I would award this one: Five Mille-Feuille
My conclusion: Baking is bonding and baking is love.
About the Author
Sarah Vaughan read English at Oxford and went on to become a journalist. After eleven years at the Guardian as a news reporter, health correspondent and political correspondent, she started freelancing. This is her first novel and she is now working on her second. Sarah lives near Cambridge with her husband and two small children.
Please have a look at the other stops on the tour, I was asked to take part. I promise I didn't just gatecrash...