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.
Welcome to my spot on the BLOG TOUR for The Art of Baking Blind by Sarah Vaughan, published by Hodder on 13 August 2015.
Over the past couple of years there's been a flurry of novels published with covers and titles that include cakes and chocolate and cafes. It would be easy to assume that Sarah Vaughan's The Art of Baking Blind is another story from the same mould - or cake tin. I have absolutely nothing against the 'cupcake' books and have read and enjoyed a few of them, however, I do think that as beautiful as the cover of this book is, it could very easily be passed by when browsing the bookshop shelf.
The Art of Baking Blind is a character led story that is really wonderfully put together. It must be difficult to have six leading characters, and to make each of them realistic and interesting, and with a story of their own. Sarah Vaughan has managed this incredibly well, although personally, I would have loved to have know a little more about the only male lead character; Mike.
The five modern day characters are a mixed bunch of people who probably would never have met if it were not for the 'New Mrs Eaden Competition' that they are all taking part in. Assembled from all walks of life, each with their own compelling back story and each having various issues to deal with, they gel together very well.
For me though, the real star of this novel is Kathleen Eaden. Kathleen is the reason that the competition is happening in the first place. She was the wife of self-made successful businessman George Eaden, whose supermarket chain is preferred by the upper classes. In the 1960s, Kathleen was a celebrity in her own right,; beautiful and stylish, a wonderful cook, a genial hostess, she was the woman who every housewife yearned to be. Her best-selling cookery book The Art of Baking was published in 1966, and still sells in huge numbers. Kathleen recently died and the supermarket want to find another figurehead baker - someone who can recreate Kathleen's wonderful recipes and represent Eadens at the same time.
The reader is privy to Kathleen's inner thoughts and turmoil as she is writing her book, her chapters are interwoven within the modern-day story and tell a tale of a woman who appears to have everything, but yearns for the one thing that alludes her.
Not only is The Art of Baking Blind a beautifully written story that deals with relationships and sorrow, despair and joy and touches on some quite serious issues, it is also packed full of the most delicious baked confections that will make your mouth water.
An absolute pleasure to read, I loved every page and look forward to reading more from Sarah Vaughan.
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.
THE ART OF BAKING BLIND is her first novel and she is now working on her second.
Sarah lives near Cambridge with her husband and two small children.
Visit her website www.sarahvaughanauthor.com
Follow her on Twitter @SVaughanAuthor
Find her author page on Facebook