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The Art of Baking Blind Paperback – 13 Aug 2015
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Delicious . . . friendship, rivalry and exposed secrets, gorgeously told (Elle)
Pick up this tale of five enthusiasts competing to be the new Mrs Eaden - a renowned baker (think an oh-so-glam '60s version of Mary Berry) (Fabulous Magazine)
Warm, wise and inspiring, an utterly delicious novel (Polly Williams, bestselling author of The Rise and Fall of a Yummy Mummy)
Fabulous (Good Housekeeping)
Vaughan's engaging writing is packed with brilliant baking tips not to mention delectable descriptions of the food the contestants create. Enjoy. (WI Magazine)
Kathleen's heartbreaking story is so vivid, I had to check she wasn't a real person. It's a challenge to manage a story with five protagonists, particularly in a debut, but Sarah Vaughan manages it with aplomb. One to add to your holiday reading pile and indulge in. (The Writes of Women blog)
Sarah Vaughan's debut novel is a delicious treat . . . There's plenty of baking and food talk for foodies but it's contained within a wonderful narrative. Sarah Vaughan has perfectly balanced the ingredients of this book . . . Where the baking lends a warm and pleasant tone, this is brilliantly offset by the darker side of the narratives. Each of the stories is compelling. (We Love This Book blog)
5 out of 5. An amazing read. It makes you crave cake and it makes you want to devour the words, enjoying every morsel till it reaches the . . . tear-jerking . . . end. (Random Redheaded Ramblings blog)
The Art of Baking Blind is gorgeous. Not just to look at and touch, but Sarah's writing is beautiful. She pulls you in, she captivates you and you just don't want to leave. Her writing creates such warmth; it really hugs you tightly. She describes the cakes and bakes exquisitely . . . Mouth-watering. (novelicious)
An extremely enjoyable book with strong characters and intriguing story lines. I loved every minute of it. (Bookbag)
Before I knew anything about the contents of this novel I had already fallen in love . . . It begs to be oohed and aahed over, not to mention to be stroked. A lot. And once I started reading, I discovered that the story within was equally beautiful and enthralling . . . A delicious read which I devoured like a freshly baked, homemade bread . . . The lush descriptions of the food made them so vivid that I could almost taste them on the tip of my tongue . . . [and] for all the sweetness of the sugary decadences . . . there is also plenty of drama and intrigue to balance it all out. (novelicious)
A novel to devour. (Maxi magazine, France)
Attention fans of GBBO! If you can drag yourself away from the doughy goings-on in the famous tent, you're sure to love this story (New)
An interesting cast of characters juggled with great skill. A lovely read that deserves to fly off the shelves. (Claire Fuller, author of OUR ENDLESS NUMBERED DAYS)
Five amateur bakers compete in a baking competition and discover that the vision of perfect domesticity they aspire to may not be the whole truth. For book club readers everywhere whose tastes range from The Help, One Day and The Other Hand to Katie Fforde and Gill Hornby.See all Product description
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Top customer reviews
The story takes the form of sections devoted to each of the categories in the competition, such as Cakes, Biscuits etc, with an extract from the book to start it off. Whilst the focus of the book is on the contestants, there are also short pieces telling something of Kathleen's life. I enjoyed it all immensely. The book is a complete pleasure to read, just light enough to be easy and undemanding but not so light that it's sugary or silly. A perfect balance really.
With shades of The Great British Bake Off combined perhaps with the memory of the heyday of the great Marguerite Patton, this book is very current and will appeal not only to those, such as myself, who love to bake, but also anybody who enjoys well-written contemporary women's fiction. Right up my street!
Life as seen through the oven door can be rewarding and therapeutic, allowing release, recognition and the achievement of ambition. It can also warp and damage. Kathleen Eaden is at the centre of the story, she is the late wife of George, a shop keeper turned business magnate. Her contribution to the world of baking came as a hugely successful and much loved book, a Mrs. Beaton for the swinging sixties. Children centric, she enthused and encouraged, inspired and educated a whole generation. Much of her success came from the image she projected, one which as one comes to realise was based on her dreams rather than her reality. Now in the present a group of contestants are gathered to compete for the title of the new Mrs. Eaden.
Spiced and seasoned by contemporary references to fashionable products and preoccupations, this is fresh and appealing writing, hovering just above the chick lit bar. The judge called Dan (a nod to Dan Leperd?) is the dishy potential love interest.
Vicki, a primary school teacher and mother of little Alfie isn't finding being a stay at home middle class Mum quite enough. Cuddly Jenny, a retired nurse from Suffolk is an empty nester with a husband who won't touch her delicious goodies in both senses of the word. Karen from Winchester is the perfectionist wife of a successful lawyer who is controlling her appetite in an unhealthy way. Claire is an insecure young mum who works in the Exeter Eadens store, on a minimum wage, just dreaming of a chance to use all the expensive ingredients she passes over her scanner daily. She can't help guessing at what recipes are planned by the purchases she deals with. Widower Mike is coming out of the fog of grief and nurturing his two children in a homely way, baking is helping him more than he realises.
The stage is set for these gentle and mostly hardly competitive people, all with back stories that boil and bubble below the surface. Jealousies, anxieties, family fears all recede when the various challenges are undertaken. The thoughts of the original Mrs. Eaden intersperse the pages along with her homilies about the art of baking. Kinder, Kuche are the preoccupations of Kathleen; she has a terrible, heart rending struggle to produce a living baby that overwhelms everything else in her life.
Who will win the competition seems less important than whose life will be transformed by the experience, they all have something to sort out. 'Baking Blind' refers to a most tricky baking procedure, essentially requiring the cook to avoid the soggy bottom syndrome. Much of what is written in this book reminds one of 'The Great British Bake Off' but no matter there is more than enough originality to keep you involved. Now I am off to whip up a tray of tasty tea treats...
I'm not sure what I was expecting really - maybe something a little less tasty, a bit more of a soggy bottom? It's a light read in many ways - an ensemble piece that reminded me a lot of the likes of Lucy Diamond, but with some dark secrets and serious issues lying just under the surface. I loved the extracts from the original Art Of Baking - the author's creation, but it's very easy to forget! The story of Kathleen Eaden that punctuates the contemporary stories of the competition contestants was often the most fascinating one for me, something that raised the book above the chick lit read it might have been.
Among the contemporary stories - woven together with great dexterity - there were those I liked better than others. I took Jenny to my heart immediately, with her obnoxious marathon-running husband declining her offerings: I also loved Vicki's relationship with her mother. Karen was a little stereotypical for my tastes, and Claire didn't entirely convince me either. Mike had potential - but doesn't really get enough of the spotlight.
The cookery competition - the cookery elements overall, really - was so well done. Watching it unfold gave me the same feeling as watching the tv competition - but strangely, the winner doesn't really matter, the journey (a bit X-Factor? sorry...) is what's important.
I think I must be fair, and say that there were times when I felt it did give itself away a little as a first novel - the odd bit of clunky phrasing, the very occasional wince at dialogue. But please don't get me wrong - this book is very, very good, I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I look forward to watching Sarah Vaughan rise to the dizzy heights with whatever she takes on next.
My thanks to netgalley and publishers Hodder & Stoughton for my advance reading copy.