13th August 2015, Hodder & Stoughton, 432 pages, Ebook, Review copy from NetGalley
Content: moderate romance, families, tissue needed, humour,
Summary from Hodder and Stoughton
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.
Think British Bake Off and you've got an idea of what happens to a group of bakers who learn more about themselves and each other in addition to baking. Everyone's personal circumstances are a bit tricky, and details are revealed chapter by chapter, making it necessary to carve out a few solid hours if you can to read it in one sitting. I wasn't able to do on this occasion which made me sad to put it down each time I had to do something else.
There is plenty of baking drama to keep the foodies happy, and to make you want to eat certain foods! The amount of drama covered is intense, including but not limited to fidelity/infidelity, family expectation, loneliness, caring for others. In truth the winner of the competition wasn't what I cared about – the way the characters find their inner strength with the help of others in such adverse conditions made me smile and cheer them on from off the page. It's a bit of a hard hitting book, but overall leans on the sweet side, one I'll certainly read again.
Available from bookstores including NRC affiliate Foyles.
More food drama involving family is Made with Love by Tricia Goyer & Sherry Gore (Amish fiction, Shop Fiction, Romance, Christian fiction, 10E/10E)