One of the few books I picked up purely because of the name and the cover. I absolutely love the cover. Love the colours, the picture.. I just had to request it from NetGalley. Thank you NetGalley and the publishers, St Martin’s Press for the review copy of this book.
Back in the 60s, Kathleen Eaden, a cookbook writer and the wife of a business magnate had written a book, ‘The Art of Baking’, her guide to nurture a family. This had become an iconic cookery book, a well-thumbed through resource for housewives across the country. Decades after the book was first published, Eaden’s book still had an audience, albeit a slightly more varied one; not just housewives were the ones baking.
Now a year after her passing away, Eaden’s supermarket was holding a search for the ‘new’ Katherine Eaten. Someone who could match the original Katherine Eaten in her quest for perfection, someone who could become as iconic as the original Mrs Eaten.
Five amateur bakers are competing for this title. They are a diverse bunch. The only thing they have in common is their love for baking. Each of them have their own reasons for taking part. Claire, a young single mum knows that this is a golden opportunity to give her young daughter a chance to a better life. Jenny, with three grown up daughters and a husband who is more interested in his weighing scales than her, is doing something for herself, for the very first time. Mike, a young widowed dad looking after his two kids, just wants to do what he enjoys the most, bake. He knows he can’t win, so all he wants to do is enjoy baking. Karen is perfect. She knows she has to be perfect, nothing less can be expected of her. What is she hiding behind her perfection? Posh Vicki, an ex-primary school teacher turned stay at home mum of a three year old is finding it extremely difficult to stay at home looking after her son. All she wants is to have loads of babies and be a perfect mum for them. Why then, is she so unhappy, so dissatisfied?
Is baking the only way she can manage to be perfect now?
As they bake to become the new Mrs Eaden, they learn things about themselves that they didn’t know, or perhaps didn’t acknowledge. Maybe, as Jenny says in the book, this quest should have been to find the real Mrs Eaden and not the ‘new’ Mrs Eaden.
The bakers bake their way through the competition as their stories unfold. Mrs Eaden’s story continues on a separate thread. The author does a wonderful job synchronizing both the threads. Kathleen Eaden’s narrative moves at the perfect pace with the story of the bakers. Her thoughts and all that she had been going through as she writes up recipes that is now being tried out by the bakers, decades later.
A beautifully wriiten, sensitive story. One which I enjoyed a lot. Not to mention the fact that all the bakers mentioned had me drooling at the thought of them. It was a good thing that I had been really busy while reading this book else I would have ende up baking something. Which in itself isn’t a bad thing, if only I didn’t eat up most of it myself.
A 4/5 read for me. An author I shall be looking out for in the future. Do give this book a try, if like me, you love books and baking. Try it even if you don’t as it is such a charming book, it is well worth a read.
About the Author
Sarah Vaughan read English at Oxford and went on to be a journalist. After training with the Press Association, she worked for The Guardian for 11 years as a news reporter, health correspondent and political correspondent. She started writing fiction after deciding to freelance. The Art of Baking Blind – published by Hodder (UK and Canada), St Martin’s Press (US) and translated into eight languages – is the result. She lives in Cambridge with her husband and two young children and is currently writing her second novel.
This book is available from Amazon(UK).