Thursday 20 August 2015

Reviewed: The Art of Baking Blind by Sarah Vaughan

The Art of Baking Blind was published in paperback by Hodder on August 13, 2015.

Thanks to Sarah and Emma Daley for arranging a review copy as part of the blog tour.

The Art of Baking Blind is a story of five characters, four women and one men, with individual real-life struggles, intertwined with the delight of baking which is the key to bonding these characters, creating friendships and rebuilding their lives. First things first, this book will make you want to eat. Seriously. Whether you’re a baker or not, you’ll find yourself drifting in and out of the kitchen deciding what to eat next. If your belly doesn’t rumble whilst reading this book, I think you should claim your money back because this book can’t be for you. I’m thinking it’s impossible for you not to be craving all sorts of food whilst reading this book. At least, I know I definitely was and Sarah’s description of all the foodie aspects to this novel were insanely tasty and mouth-watering. Her writing was beautifully descriptive and built up a well-defined picture of every moment.

Grocery chain Eaden and Son’s are looking for a new Mrs Eaden after the previous well-known face of their baking, Kathleen Eaden, has passed away. Kathleen was a bit of a baking icon and we do get to learn a lot about her character, especially as the main story in this book is broken up with extracts from her book, The Art of Baking. I loved this format and found myself really looking forward to the beginning of each chapter to see Kathleen’s next anecdote. She was also a fascinating character in that, as we see, things in her life weren’t as perfect as people had been led to believe. As irreplaceable as Kathleen felt, it had to be done and this novel sees the start of a non-elimination competition to crown the new Mrs Eaden. Jenny, Vicki, Mike, Karen and Claire are the five contestants and I found them all to be quite likeable, flawed and interesting characters. I had my favourites, and some I’d like to have seen developed more, but overall I really, really enjoyed getting to know these characters and seeing their friendships form and their lives begin to change.

Jenny, my personal favourite character, is a dedicated mother who, in my opinion, found herself held back by her nasty, cutting husband. I hated him, I have to admit. Jenny finds herself doing an awful lot of comfort eating and the weight is piling on. Her husband thinks baking is a bad idea for Jenny – she’s only going to get more tempted and become even fatter, which disgusts him – but we can tell that baking is something that means an awful lot to Jenny. Vicki is mother to a toddler, struggling to enjoy being a new stay-at-home mum whilst her husband is always working. She also finds herself having to cope with her own demanding mother, which is a challenging job. Karen is another of the contestants who intrigued me a lot. Her life feels kind-of perfect – too perfect, even – but there were things I wanted to learn about her, mostly, why she never tasted any of things she was baking? Where was the joy in that? Claire is a single mum, not massively confident and not really being allowed to enjoy too much in life as she battles with money being tight, trying to make ends meet. We then, finally, have Mike, who is a widow and therefore new to single-parenthood. Each of the contestants have their own reasons for craving victory, and I loved getting to know them all.

My only slight niggle with this story was the character of Mike, who I felt could have done with that tiny bit more development to make him feel as much part of the story as the four women, more like he belonged. We hear a bit about him but it would have been nice to hear a bit from him, especially because I did like his character, I just wanted to get a better insight into his thoughts and feelings, like we got with Jenny, Vicki, Karen and Claire, who were each developed strongly and I found, easy to connect with. I think, actually, that was the part that surprised me because every character we met, regardless of how big or small their part in the story was, were told well although of course it was only natural that some would stand out more. I never had that confusion over who was who even though I kind of expected to when I read the blurb and saw that the book focused on a big group of characters.

Although the bakery element to this novel was pretty divine, this was more than just a book about food. Each character brought with them realistic themes, realistic obstacles put in front of a happy wellbeing and though I don’t want to name them for spoiler-sake, I thought Sarah did a brilliant job at allowing things to unfold the way she did. Straight after picking up The Art of Baking Blind, I felt like this book was going to be the one that would make me want to do something with my life, a book to inspire me. Each character had their own problems in life but the opportunity to become the next Mrs Eaden saw them have the chance to put themselves first for a change and it was refreshing to see. The content is warm, believable and utterly delightful, with every layer building up a story that I didn’t want to leave behind. A perfect read for fans of The Great British Bake-Off, a perfect read for lovers of baking and a perfect read for those completely clueless about the art of baking (like me). This was a truly wonderful book for everyone to read and enjoy.

Multi-layered, fascinating and hugely mouth-watering tale - ideal for GBBO fans


  1. Oh dear maybe I had better not read this. I wonder if somebody could write a book about baking slim lol. X

    1. no you should read it! I'll take full responsibility for any pounds you may gain ;) x


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