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.
Firstly can we all please take a moment to look at the cover and admire the charm and pure beauty of the teal and hot pink cover it is so gorgeous! This book also sounds fantastic mixing my love of baking and books that follow the lives of multiple characters. This book is the complete package.
While I expected the majority of this book to focus on the competition, the book actually focused more on the the women’s lives outside of the contest. I actually think this was for the better as this wasn’t the book I was expecting (I must add I like being surprised, so this was not a negative), the story, especially towards the end, was fantastic, but the contest was not what drew you in. It was the different personalities of the contestants, each with their personal issues, and how they all developed as individuals.
I would have to say, for the most part, the men in this book were useless (Mike being the exception, I would have liked to find more out about him), Greg was so absent and unsupportive of Vicki, you just wanted to scream at him. Much the same can be said of Nigel, Jenny’s husband, but instead of just being absent, he is just verbally Abusive to his wife and frankly, stuck up his own arse! Thoroughly detestable!
On the other hand the women were delightful, though I didn’t really warm to Karen, although she goes through a lot, I still don’t fully understand her. Jenny is the mum character and was so warm and loving, despite her private life. She was exactly the type of character you would expect when thinking of home baking. I thought Vicki’s relationship with her distant mother was very interesting, and I really enjoyed seeing them bond as I progressed through the book.
The book had sections from the cookbook of Kathleen Eaden, the wife of the founder of ‘Eaden’s’ supermarket who is running the competition. You also had insights into her life many years ago while writing the book, and these parts I thought were the most touching, and the ending of this was both happy and sad all at the same time, simply beautiful.
As mentioned above, I expected to enjoy this book, but it wasn’t the book I expected. That doesn’t make any sense, I guess I expected it to be a slightly ‘lighter read’ does that make more sense? Anyway, the book is a joy to read, I absolutely sped through the last half to see what would happen, you should definitely pick it up!
Published by: Hodder & Stoughton
Gratefully received from the Publisher for review.