The Art of Baking Blind by Sarah Vaughan

The Art of Baking Blind by Sarah Vaughan
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre- Women’s fiction, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (406 pgs)
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Stephanotis

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, cookbook 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 that 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 facade shouldn’t slip.

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

Reading, cooking…reading about a baking contest who could ask for more? I really enjoyed this book for many reasons besides the fact that I, like the characters, enjoy baking and am a fan of the British baking show that this story’s plot is loosely based upon.

The characters seemed so real because they were flawed in their own special way. Like all of us they had their insecurities. They also had their everyday problems that I think most of us can relate to in one way or another.

I also loved the mini-story about Kathleen Eaden who owned a chain of supermarkets and wrote the classic cookbook The Art of Baking. This story focuses on the contest to find the next Mrs. Eaden. While the contestants think she was perfect and had the perfect life, her own story revealed something very different.

Eventually the contest’s lives and Kathleen’s are almost identical. By the end of the book they’ve all realized there’s no such thing as perfection and striving for it brings strife and heartache.

If you’re a baker yourself you will love the descriptions of all things pies, cakes, cookies etc. in this book. Ms. Vaughan did a wonderful job telling you about the ingredients and I found myself actually visualizing all the goodies that the contests made. And yes, it makes you either hungry or forces you to go bake something for yourself.

406 pages might seem like a long book but as the story progresses you become so immersed in the character’s lives that you find yourself reading more on each sitting.

This was a book that I was almost sad to finish reading and if you enjoy women’s fiction then I’d recommend adding this one to your summer reading list.

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