Thursday, 10 July 2014

REVIEW - The Art of Baking Blind by Sarah Vaughan


"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"

Thank you to Hodder & Stoughton for providing me with an advance copy 
in exchange for an honest review

This afternoon I sat and finished this novel, I had been taking my time with it, enjoying every delicious morsel in it and I hope I can convey to you how wonderful this story is!

The Art of Baking Blind is a story about food, about putting yourself first for a change and also about letting go of regret and trying to move on.  It is told from two periods, the first period is the sixties, we meet Kathleen Eaden, a cookery writer and wife of a supermarket magnate who own Eaden's supermarkets, she comes across to me like a younger version of Delia/Mary Berry and I was a little worried that she was going to come across as a stuck up kind of character but she didn't and as her story progresses in the little snippets we get through out the book you find yourself finding out more about the incredible cook and her life as well as a look at her bible which she is researching and writing The Art of Baking Blind.

The second period is present day, Eaden's is still going strong and the supermarket is looking for the new face of the brand and it launches a competition to find the next Mrs Eaden, they are looking for a baker and they end up with five to choose from.  There is Jenny a matronly downtrodden wife who fears her husband is having an affair and eats to dispel the sadness, there is Vicki a young teacher with a young son and husband but struggles to put herself before her family, she also has a mother who does not want to be a granny in anyway and won't think of babysitting, we also have Claire a single mother who has done a brilliant job of raising her daughter whilst putting off her own dreams, Mike a widower who is bringing up his two children after his wife's death and lastly Karen a picture of perfection, a woman who loves to bake but will never touch a crumb of the food she has made - all of these people with their own stories are about to come together and face the challenges ahead both in the competition and in their own private lives.

The Art of Baking Blind is not a book to read when you are hungry, the description of the heavenly food would put Nigella to shame, pies, tarts and numerous other pastry creations fragrance the pages of this book, it really did make me want to reach for the biscuits but no I needed to find out how the story panned out!

As the contestants are set a task each week, this is not televised I'd better say but the winner each week get their winning creation put on YouTube, they excel at the tasks they are set but we get a look at how they are at home, Jenny is starting to fall away from her husband who takes but never gives, Karen is struggling with her perfect life and it all starts to unravel itself after an incident with her son, Vicki tries to make time for her son and feels guilty as she is putting the contest before him and at the same time she is hiding her anger at her mother who is never there for her and never supports her but unfortunately for Vicki the mother and daughter are about to find out the hard way that they need each other, Claire and Mike get off the easiest, Mike has been struggling without his wife but is doing an amazing job at raising his children, he sees in Claire not just a kindred spirit but possibly the spark of something special happening, Claire is not blind and also sees this in Mike but her ex makes an appearance and is determined to make his way back in to her good books, does she want him there?

The intermingling of the story lines between Mrs Eaden in the past and the contestants in the future really works well and you can see some of Mrs Eaden's problems echoed in the problems of the contestants in the future.

This novel is an amazing read, it makes you crave cake and it makes you want to devour the words, enjoying every morsel till it reaches the (well it made me cry) tear jerking but happy end.  I hope you go and read it and if you have already I'd love to know what you think!

I'm awarding it 5 out of 5




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