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The Art of Baking Blind

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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, cookbook writer and wife of a supermarket magnate, published The Art of Baki 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, cookbook 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 that 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 facade shouldn't slip. As unlikely alliances are forged and secrets rise to the surface, making the choicest pastry 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, in Sarah Vaughan's The Art of Baking Blind.


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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, cookbook writer and wife of a supermarket magnate, published The Art of Baki 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, cookbook 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 that 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 facade shouldn't slip. As unlikely alliances are forged and secrets rise to the surface, making the choicest pastry 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, in Sarah Vaughan's The Art of Baking Blind.

30 review for The Art of Baking Blind

  1. 5 out of 5

    Shelby *trains flying monkeys*

    I'm going to gif the hell outta this review. So all you gif haters have something to [email protected]#ch about this week. Rejoice! Back in the 1960's Kathleen Eaden wrote the ode to baking. Not only did she do that but she put forth that perfect mother, perfect wife, helped her husband open a chain of upscale grocery stores. She was that perfect woman. But was she really? Now she has recently passed away and the grocery store chain needs a new Mrs. Eaden to promote their baking line and products. So they are r I'm going to gif the hell outta this review. So all you gif haters have something to [email protected]#ch about this week. Rejoice! Back in the 1960's Kathleen Eaden wrote the ode to baking. Not only did she do that but she put forth that perfect mother, perfect wife, helped her husband open a chain of upscale grocery stores. She was that perfect woman. But was she really? Now she has recently passed away and the grocery store chain needs a new Mrs. Eaden to promote their baking line and products. So they are running a contest offering 50,000 pounds to the winner. Five regular people get to compete. You have your token male. Recently divorce and raising his children alone. (I liked him. Wish more of the story had featured him) Jenny who's children are leaving the nest and has an asshole husband. She eats to hide her pain. Vicki, the perfectionist. A stay at home mom who tries to please her workaholic husband, controlling mother and 3 year old son. Claire, a poor single mother who does her best to support her daughter. Working a low paying job dreaming of a better future. Her mom enters her into the contest. Then Karen, perfect Karen. Who has a image of herself that is unshakable. She seduces most men in her life as her husband is away most of the time. Trying to bury that hurt. Weaved through out the book you get bits of Kathleen Eaden's cookbook writings..now you know my foodie fangirl butt is going to love that part. Some of the baking is way the heck over my head. Actually, most of it. I'm not a baker. I've always wanted to be on one of those damn cooking shows though. Tattletale. Now for the book. At first you don't care for some of these women. They come across as shallow and vain. Some of them seem to think only with how the outside world judges them. Then the author gives you a glimpse into each of their private lives, including the goddess herself, Kathleen Eaden. I fell in love with every single character in the storyline. They turned out to all be strong women. I hate that they felt they had to hide their feelings and problems. The food contest was of course part I loved too. I had never heard of some of the things they were baking. So I looked them up. Lardy cake, Chelsea rolls, and a few more that of course have slipped my feeble mind.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Bianca

    I recently read The Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan, so when I saw this on the library overdrive, I immediately borrowed it wanting to experience more of her writing. This was a well-crafted story, with very relatable characters - although, they're stereotypes of sorts: Karen, the well-off, super fit, perfect looking woman; Claire, the young single mother, working as a cashier; Jenny, the epitome of the stay-at-home fifty-something wife, who's an empty nester; Vicky, the new mother, a teach I recently read The Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan, so when I saw this on the library overdrive, I immediately borrowed it wanting to experience more of her writing. This was a well-crafted story, with very relatable characters - although, they're stereotypes of sorts: Karen, the well-off, super fit, perfect looking woman; Claire, the young single mother, working as a cashier; Jenny, the epitome of the stay-at-home fifty-something wife, who's an empty nester; Vicky, the new mother, a teacher, who's at home with her three-year-old and doesn't find it fulfilling as she thought it would/should be. These three women and Mike, a widower with two young children, come together in a baking competition for the New Mrs Eaden - the author of the famous "The Art of Baking", which had inspired many homemakers over decades. (She's a fictional character, I Googled her). The four bakers can concoct the perfect cakes, bread and other baking delights. While they can bake to perfection, unsurprisingly, their lives are far from perfect. I particularly liked how Vaughan interspersed the four people's stories with that of the famous Kathleen Eaden, who appeared to be not only the perfect baker but also the perfect wife and mother. This novel should come with a warning: Careful, you'll want to bake! People who enjoy the cooking shows will probably appreciate The Art Of Baking Blind even more than I did. I enjoyed listening to the audiobook, even though it sounded familiar.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    (3.5) “While perfection might be possible in baking, in life, well, it’s impossible. The perfect wife, the perfect child, the perfect mother? None of us can be these. They’re mere fancies.” The search for a new ambassador for Eaden’s high-end supermarket chain brings five amateur bakers to a Buckinghamshire mansion for a Great British Bake Off-style competition. Kathleen Eaden, the author of The Art of Baking (1966), recently died, and the contest aims to find the new face of traditional British (3.5) “While perfection might be possible in baking, in life, well, it’s impossible. The perfect wife, the perfect child, the perfect mother? None of us can be these. They’re mere fancies.” The search for a new ambassador for Eaden’s high-end supermarket chain brings five amateur bakers to a Buckinghamshire mansion for a Great British Bake Off-style competition. Kathleen Eaden, the author of The Art of Baking (1966), recently died, and the contest aims to find the new face of traditional British baking. As the contestants produce their best Battenburg cakes, gingerbread houses, bread loaves, and afternoon tea treats, we delve into the histories of Victoria, Jenny, Karen, Claire and Mike and go deeper than the shorthand stereotypes (the desperate housewife, the middle-aged woman whose husband is cheating on her, the cougar with an eating disorder, the single mum and the widower). For many of them, food is a stand-in for the love they have sought from a parent or no longer get from a partner. The third-person narrative switches between the perspectives of the four female participants and Kathleen Eaden herself, whose idealized image hides a painful path to motherhood. The setup – multiple contemporary stories responding to one historical one – reminded me a lot of J. Courtney Sullivan’s The Engagements. I’d recommend this to Bake Off watchers but also to anyone who likes cozy, food-themed reads.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Yodamom

    Audiobook As a fan of The Great British Bakeoff this was too temping to pass up. I don't think I even read the books description all the way before I was purchasing it. "What a joy" see I sounded like Mary there didn't I ? LOL So this book takes you into the live of a cooking contest and into the lives of the contestants. What is driving them, who is behind them, where did they come from, where are their hearts ? I could hear "bake" and see the people scrambling to get their crusts and rises done Audiobook As a fan of The Great British Bakeoff this was too temping to pass up. I don't think I even read the books description all the way before I was purchasing it. "What a joy" see I sounded like Mary there didn't I ? LOL So this book takes you into the live of a cooking contest and into the lives of the contestants. What is driving them, who is behind them, where did they come from, where are their hearts ? I could hear "bake" and see the people scrambling to get their crusts and rises done in time. It is about the bakes, and so much more. *Warning do not read while hungry. There are cakes, biscuits, pies, pastries and things I've never seen but would be more than willing to taste. Life does not begin and end in the test kitchen for these people, they have a home life. Each contestant has a life, some filled with drama, abandonment, self-esteem issues and more. Baking and stepping out into the spotlight changes each of them, brings things left in the dark for years to the surface. Emotionally charged, changes each better than when they started. I cheered for each of them through the contest and I felt the truly best baker won in the end. Woot Woot ________ ! I really loved listening to this audiobook. The narration was fantastic. It was a feel good read about good realistic people and baking.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kathy - Books & Munches

    I discovered the magic of microwaved cake in mugs. With all the baked goodies mentioned and even the descriptions of how things are made, I got this urge to eat cake. I didn't care whether I had to bake it or buy it, I simply wanted. cake.  Safe to say I loved the whole setting of this novel, right? Not only because of those descriptions, but also because it made me see the characters in a completely different way. Since the baking competition is only during the weekends, we get to see everyone b I discovered the magic of microwaved cake in mugs. With all the baked goodies mentioned and even the descriptions of how things are made, I got this urge to eat cake. I didn't care whether I had to bake it or buy it, I simply wanted. cake.  Safe to say I loved the whole setting of this novel, right? Not only because of those descriptions, but also because it made me see the characters in a completely different way. Since the baking competition is only during the weekends, we get to see everyone both in their personal lives and when they're participating in the contest. Outside of it, you could see what they were struggling with - each having their own problems - while, during the competition? You saw how they had one thing in common: their love for food and baking. It does have to be said that this novel tackles a whole lot of triggering themes that are worth mentioning. As such, there's bulimia, there's challenged body-shaming, there's mention of an abortion and there are multiple miscarriages which are not only mentioned, but sometimes also described. I didn't know about these things up front and, luckily, it didn't bother me all that much while reading since it added so much depth to the characters but I know there are always people who like knowing these things up front. In the end, there's only one thing I kept struggling with and that's all the different characters. All five competitors get a POV and sometimes we even get the POV of one of their family members, the judges and the deceased Kathleen Eaden. Definitely confused me a ton of times. I would definitely recommend this one to people who love baking, love cooking / baking competitions and don't mind all the themes that are mentioned and tackled in this book. Even though it felt like a heavy read at times, it still had a light vibe to it in the end.  4 / 5

  6. 4 out of 5

    Laurie • The Baking Bookworm

    My Review: It shouldn't come as a shock that I picked up this book. First off, the cover was beautiful (I adore teal) and it caught my attention right away. Second, it's about baking, y'all! I thought this book was a no-brainer for me but unfortunately I found this book lacking in a few areas. The book deals with five competitors as they try to win a coveted British baking competition. The problem was that I had a hard time remembering who was who among the competitors - except for the one male c My Review: It shouldn't come as a shock that I picked up this book. First off, the cover was beautiful (I adore teal) and it caught my attention right away. Second, it's about baking, y'all! I thought this book was a no-brainer for me but unfortunately I found this book lacking in a few areas. The book deals with five competitors as they try to win a coveted British baking competition. The problem was that I had a hard time remembering who was who among the competitors - except for the one male competitor, Mike who was barely in the story at all and was only viewed through the eyes of the four female competitors. It got so bad that I actually had to write a cheat sheet listing each of the four female characters and their characteristics/issues so I could keep track of them. Not a good sign. With all this energy being used to remember characters it shouldn't come as a surprise that I didn't get attached to any of them. While I did love that baking was the connection between the main characters, sadly one cannot live on descriptions of delicious cupcakes alone. The depictions of delicious baked goods and baking techniques was interesting but the plot and characters fell flat for me and didn't develop as much as I would have hoped. Overall, I wasn't impressed with this book. While it's filled with descriptions of interesting baking techniques and treats, the low energy, lackluster characters and predictable plot left me hungry for a lot more from this author. My Rating: 2/5 stars ** This book review, as well as hundreds more, can also be found on my blog, The Baking Bookworm (www.thebakingbookworm.blogspot.ca) where I also share hundreds of my favourite recipes. **

  7. 5 out of 5

    Zarina

    http://www.pagetostagereviews.com/201... Before I knew anything about the contents of this novel I had already fallen in love with the striking turquoise colour of its packaging and the simple yet very effective drawing adorning the cover. 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. Kathleen was famous not only for being the photogenic wife of grocery magnate George Ea http://www.pagetostagereviews.com/201... Before I knew anything about the contents of this novel I had already fallen in love with the striking turquoise colour of its packaging and the simple yet very effective drawing adorning the cover. 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. Kathleen was famous not only for being the photogenic wife of grocery magnate George Eaden, but also for writing a true cookery classic in the form of The Art of Baking. Even though the book was published in the 1960s, it is still extensively being referred to today and can be found in the kitchens of many British households, so even much younger generations are familiar with Kathleen's delectable recipes. A few months after she passes away, grocery chain Eaden and Son's is conducting the Search for the New Mrs Eaden. After nationwide auditions, the five people chosen to compete in the contest are young single mum Claire; polished Karen, who doesn't taste her own creations; Mike, a widower and father of two; Jenny, who is growing apart from her husband; and Vicky, who has stopped working so she can take care of her little boy, but isn't sure if she's happy as a stay-at-home mum. I always enjoy reading novels that bring together people from different walks of life. I find that having such a diverse cast of main characters means there's always at least one with which the reader is able to identify, making it easier to be pulled into the story completely rather than just watching the action unfold from the sideline. In this case, I felt myself particularly drawn to Claire and Jenny, though I did feel sympathetic towards the struggles of all of them – Kathleen included. Having such a large cast of characters did mean that there wasn't space to develop each one of them fully and as such I found some of the stories somewhat lacking. This was particularly apparent in the case of Mike, who was really only viewed through the eyes of his fellow contestants. I thought this was a shame as I would've liked to have known more about his life as a now single father. Similarly, the conclusions of Jenny and Karen's individual stories also felt a bit rushed. Nonetheless, this was a delicious read, which I devoured like a freshly baked, homemade bread. The novel was steeped in a love for baking and quintessentially British delights, from the snippets of Kathleen's famous book scattered throughout, to the detailed descriptions of the contestants' practice runs and their entries into each of the stages of the competition. The lush descriptions of the food made them so vivid that I could almost taste them on the tip of my tongue while reading. So, even if you weren't hungry before picking up this novel, you definitely will be once you've dug into it! The Search for the New Mrs Eaden, despite not taking place on television, is reminiscent of The Great British Bake Off and will be a particular treat for those who love the British baking show. However, even if you are not a fan of the reality contest, you will find plenty within the pages to enjoy. The characters do not only struggle with dough and flavours, but also with their marriages, parenting and the heartbreak of losing a child prematurely. For all the sweetness of the sugary decadences they whip up, there is also plenty of drama and intrigue to balance it all out. And the baked goods mentioned within are so mouth-watering and inspiring that after finishing this novel even the most inexperienced of bakers will immediately want to grab their whisks and mixing bowls and try their hand at the recipes. From richly filled game pie with a perfect golden-brown pastry top to a delicate millefeuille layered with homemade crème pâtissière.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Shelleyrae at Book'd Out

    The Art of Baking Blind is pleasant debut novel for British journalist Sarah Vaughan. 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. A year after her death, a competition is being held to find the 'New Mrs Eaden', where the winner will receive a £50,000 contract to advise the supermarket on its selection of baked products, take the lead in an adve The Art of Baking Blind is pleasant debut novel for British journalist Sarah Vaughan. 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. A year after her death, a competition is being held to find the 'New Mrs Eaden', where the winner will receive a £50,000 contract to advise the supermarket on its selection of baked products, take the lead in an advertising campaign, and write a monthly magazine column. Four women and one man have been chosen to compete, striving for the perfection in the kitchen, that has eluded them in their real lives. The novel unfolds through the viewpoints of Vaughan's four main female characters intertwined with Kathleen Eaden's story, and excerpts from 'The Art of Baking'. Vicki, mother to three year old Alfie, is finding being a stay at home mother difficult and is excited by the challenge of the competition. Jenny has given all of herself to her family, but with her daughters having flown the nest and her husband disinterested, baking is all she has left. Karen strives for perfection in all things and views the competition as a way to prove herself. Claire is a hard working single mother who hopes that winning the contest will give her and her daughter a chance to better their lives. While the contestants strive to turn out perfect pastries and pies every weekend, Vaughan slowly reveals the challenges each woman is facing at home. Jenny, for example, is almost certain her husband is having an affair, while Claire's daughter's father makes an unexpected return. There is depth here, though I think perhaps Vaughan spreads herself a little too thin and some of the characters, and their stories, are truncated. Karen's story finishes quite abruptly, and Mike, the fifth contestant, is little more than a token. The competition to become the next Mrs Eaden bears similarities to the television show, The Great British Bake Off, though this contest is not televised and there is no weekly elimination. Sadly there are no recipes included in the book, but the descriptions of the contestants offerings, ranging from Chelsea Buns to a Springtime Quiche, are ambrosial and I couldn't resist baking a simple after school treat for my children when I'd finished the last page. A story about family, relationships, and the art of baking, I enjoyed this engaging novel.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    Eaden and Sons are running a baking competition to find the new face for their baking campaigns. Mrs Eadon wrote The Art of Baking in the 1960's and the book is still very popular. The new campaign will use many of her recipes. Five contestants are chosen and they travel down to the family home every weekend to take part in a baking competition where the winners release a clip on YouTube. Jenny is an older lady and her children are leading their own lives and her husband has just started training Eaden and Sons are running a baking competition to find the new face for their baking campaigns. Mrs Eadon wrote The Art of Baking in the 1960's and the book is still very popular. The new campaign will use many of her recipes. Five contestants are chosen and they travel down to the family home every weekend to take part in a baking competition where the winners release a clip on YouTube. Jenny is an older lady and her children are leading their own lives and her husband has just started training for a marathon and is making disparaging remarks about her love of baking and her weight. You really feel for her. Claire has a little girl and has put her dreams on hold to look after her. Vikki has given up her job to be with her young son- but does she crave more from life? Karen presents a very polished exterior and has a very rich husband- but what secrets is she hiding to the outside world? Mike is looking after his children after losing his wife. Although this is a competition there is no elimination process and the contestants get to know each other and feel protective about each other. They are all juggling problems at home and wondering whether they should continue with the competition but all have reasons for wanting to win! I loved the relationships- both at home and between the contestants. You felt a part of the whole competition and readers will probably have their own favourite for the winner. Highly recommend this one and send many thanks to the publisher and Net Galley for the chance to read this one.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Claire

    The Art of Baking Blind is a lovely ode to The Great British Bake Off, one of my favourite TV programmes. The story alternates between the competition to find the new Mrs Eaden and the competition's inspiration, Kathleen Eaden, the wife of a grocer turned supermarket magnate as she writes her best seller "The art of baking". As the book progresses we get an insight into the personal lives of both the contestants and Kathleen. Slowly the story becomes one of relationships. It shows how a relation The Art of Baking Blind is a lovely ode to The Great British Bake Off, one of my favourite TV programmes. The story alternates between the competition to find the new Mrs Eaden and the competition's inspiration, Kathleen Eaden, the wife of a grocer turned supermarket magnate as she writes her best seller "The art of baking". As the book progresses we get an insight into the personal lives of both the contestants and Kathleen. Slowly the story becomes one of relationships. It shows how a relationship that looks perfect from the outside, once the dynamic changes, changes can start to appear. The baking competition affects each contestant in different ways and makes them reassess their close relationships. I'd say the book falls into the genre of women's fiction rather than chick lit. It is a grown up story without the frivolity of dating and socialising. When I started this book, I was a little concerned that there would be recipes interspersed within the narrative. However my concerns were unfounded and I'm surprised once the scene was set in both time periods, how much I enjoyed it. I wanted to know more about the individual bakers and I wanted to know who the winner was and what happened to Kathleen; the sign of a good book. In essence it's a lovely book, a pleasant change from my usual read of thrillers and crime. Thanks to Netgalley and St Martin's Press for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Anne

    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 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. http://randomthingsthroughmyletterbox...

  12. 4 out of 5

    Nicki

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This book appears to be about baking, but actually it's more to do with motherhood. There are 5 main characters. Kathleen, who has recently died. Her story is told in flashback from her life in the 60's as a young woman. She is an attractive and talented baker who writes a successful baking column and is looked up to and idealised as the perfect woman. Secretly, though, she is desperate to be a mother and has miscarried several pregnancies. Jenny, a mother of grown daughters who is frumpy and fa This book appears to be about baking, but actually it's more to do with motherhood. There are 5 main characters. Kathleen, who has recently died. Her story is told in flashback from her life in the 60's as a young woman. She is an attractive and talented baker who writes a successful baking column and is looked up to and idealised as the perfect woman. Secretly, though, she is desperate to be a mother and has miscarried several pregnancies. Jenny, a mother of grown daughters who is frumpy and fat and fears her husband is having an affair. Cooking is her escape in life, much to her slim husbands disgust. Claire, a single mum who works as a cashier and struggles to get by. Vicki, a married mum to a young son who is feeling frustrated at home and misses teaching. Karen, an attractive 40 something who tries to hang onto her youth and has alienated her teenage children with her behaviour. With Kathleen's death, the four win the chance to compete in a cookery contest to find the "next" Kathleen. There's another contestant, widowed single dad Mike, but honestly, he's just there for padding. This story is about the four current day women and Kathleen. Jenny was my favourite. Her husband was cold and cruel, and I really pitied her. Vicki, I struggled with. On one hand, she's frustrated at home, on the other, banging on about more babies. It was irritating! I did get what the author was trying to do with the storyline with Vicki's own mother, though. I was a bit worried she was being painted like a witch for having her own life and not wanting to live through her grandchild, but I liked the "did the best I could" message. I wish there was a little more of that in this book, but, hey, I read the whole thing, so it couldn't have been that awful. Karen was also a bit annoying. Seriously, because a woman wants to look good past 40, does she have to be an anorexic slut bag? Really? And dropping out for her children and all forgiven at the end, oh please... Her son honestly needed a kick up the ass. I am not saying Karen showed good judgement or appropriate behaviour, but he wasn't a child, despite the way he acted. Claire was fairly innocuous. Didn't have strong thoughts either way on her character. Overall easy reading with some delicious descriptions of food. Too many characters to care about all of them, or even follow who is who completely. Very linked to family, babies, struggles with those things - it would have been nice to have a bit of variety in the characters there. I am glad I read it, but definitely not one to keep and re read.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Martine Bailey

    I devoured this in a few days; it's an addictive chocolate-layer cake of a book with a frothy topping of rivalry, layers of emotional yearning and a sprinkling of the bitter truths of life. Debut novelist Sarah Vaughan takes a fascinating cultural phenomenon - the baking competition - and produces a tale just as more-ish as the Victoria sponges and mini-tartlets it describes. Kathleen Eaden is a baking icon: slim, elegant and effortlessly perfect. Excerpts from her Art of Baking head each chapter I devoured this in a few days; it's an addictive chocolate-layer cake of a book with a frothy topping of rivalry, layers of emotional yearning and a sprinkling of the bitter truths of life. Debut novelist Sarah Vaughan takes a fascinating cultural phenomenon - the baking competition - and produces a tale just as more-ish as the Victoria sponges and mini-tartlets it describes. Kathleen Eaden is a baking icon: slim, elegant and effortlessly perfect. Excerpts from her Art of Baking head each chapter, but as the wife of a supermarket millionaire the reader soon suspects all may not be as it seems for this doyen of 1960s femininity. Enter today's aspiring Mrs Eadens: plump, homely Jenny married to a contemptuous fitness fanatic, posh ex-teacher Vicki, struggling as a stay-at-home mum, predatory Karen who brims with guilty secrets, single mum Claire, living on the breadline, and widower Mike, who bakes to nurture his children. Vaughan has fun exploring the shortfalls of all these characters against goddess-like Mrs Eaden and the contest itself provides page-turning energy. The food is English fare deliciously described. The roots of baking in family life are fondly described, for example here are two children playing with Battenburg cake: 'they would dissect the tesselated squares into quarters and put them on their toy tea set to make fairy sandwiches for their Tiny Tears.' If I do have a tiny niggle, it is that all the contestants are from the middle-class heartlands of southern England, even working-class Claire. As a former baking contestant myself I would say that contests are generally a lot more fun and a lot less of a trial of relationship and parenting skills! But that is not the point at all, for this is a lovely novel about baking and its wellspring in our nurturing psyches, and how we try but don't always succeed in becoming the perfect bakers. This review is from an advance uncorrected proof supplied by the publisher.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Samantha March

    I received a review copy This was a book that had me invested from the very beginning. I absolutely love books that flip between past and present. While we only got little clips from Kathleen Eaden on her past, they were full of knowledge and really tied the story together. Each competitor has their own unique story going on, and because this book was pretty thick (I received a hard cover) I knew from the beginning that we get pretty in depth with them, which was the case. Though I can’t cook or I received a review copy This was a book that had me invested from the very beginning. I absolutely love books that flip between past and present. While we only got little clips from Kathleen Eaden on her past, they were full of knowledge and really tied the story together. Each competitor has their own unique story going on, and because this book was pretty thick (I received a hard cover) I knew from the beginning that we get pretty in depth with them, which was the case. Though I can’t cook or bake myself I love reading foodie books, and delighted in the recipes given and the thorough baking guide throughout the way. Sometimes I did tend to mix up the characters since we were following so many, but I truly enjoyed this book as a whole. Perfect for a rainy spring day! 4.5 stars

  15. 5 out of 5

    Maggie

    I loved this book and devoured it in 3 days!! No pun intended! I didn't want it to end! I love baking and it was the title which first attracted me. I immediately warmed to the characters, especially Jenny and Karen and found them all very believable. The ongoing thread of the original Mrs Eaden really added to the story, and in some ways was the lynch pin of the book, although at first it felt intrusive. Reading the book made we want to go to the kitchen and start cooking! I want more of this b I loved this book and devoured it in 3 days!! No pun intended! I didn't want it to end! I love baking and it was the title which first attracted me. I immediately warmed to the characters, especially Jenny and Karen and found them all very believable. The ongoing thread of the original Mrs Eaden really added to the story, and in some ways was the lynch pin of the book, although at first it felt intrusive. Reading the book made we want to go to the kitchen and start cooking! I want more of this book, another helping please!!!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    A most excellent read, and a surprisingly engaging debut novel. Women's fiction, to be sure, this story has a ring of truth that will resonate with all women, regardless of their specific path. Very, very British in style; witty, funny, sad, and triumphant.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    If you like The Great British Baking Show, you will like this book. The characters are great and they draw you into the story.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Piepie

    The author's take on the show The Great British Bake Off, a show I've never seen, but I love anything to do with the Food Network, so it probably sounds like something I would watch. I loved the British narrator, and the story o would have to give 3 1/2 stars. The four female contestants - Vicki, Claire, Jenny, Karen - all seem a little bit similar at first but over time you start to distinguish their characters. The single male contestant, Mike, had so much potential, and I don't think he was g The author's take on the show The Great British Bake Off, a show I've never seen, but I love anything to do with the Food Network, so it probably sounds like something I would watch. I loved the British narrator, and the story o would have to give 3 1/2 stars. The four female contestants - Vicki, Claire, Jenny, Karen - all seem a little bit similar at first but over time you start to distinguish their characters. The single male contestant, Mike, had so much potential, and I don't think he was given as much story space as he could have, and definitely not as much as the women. It's hard to pick a favorite character, but I know I didn't really like Vicki. She indulged her whiny little son far too much. Jenny put up with her husband for far too long, and so maybe Claire was my favorite - she deserved all the good things she could get. I did like the flashbacks to Kathleen Eaden's life in the '60s, as an aspiring cookbook author and as she suffers miscarriage after miscarriage. All in all, not a bad story. As a major foodie, I loved all the bits about food - what the dishes the characters made looked like and what they tasted like.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Samantha

    I won a copy of this book through the Goodreads first reads program. I wanted to really like this book because I found the premise very interesting, but, in the end, it was just okay for me. The main thing is that there are too many characters and some never get fleshed out or used to their full potential. I would have rather had fewer characters and a more in depth story on all of them.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Alison Clark

    A brilliant read for anyone who loves to escape when baking - and a great book for showing you never really know whats happening behind closed doors.

  21. 4 out of 5

    PopcornReads

    Review & Giveaway: When I was about four years old, a neighbor taught me to bake Toll House cookies and I’ve been hooked on baking (and Toll House cookies) ever since. Being a confirmed lifelong chocoholic, I think I ate more of the chocolate chips than went into the cookies but she was very gracious about it. So it was a no brainer that I would choose to read and review The Art of Baking Blind by Sarah Vaughan. I thought it would make a nice departure from all of the intense thrillers I rea Review & Giveaway: When I was about four years old, a neighbor taught me to bake Toll House cookies and I’ve been hooked on baking (and Toll House cookies) ever since. Being a confirmed lifelong chocoholic, I think I ate more of the chocolate chips than went into the cookies but she was very gracious about it. So it was a no brainer that I would choose to read and review The Art of Baking Blind by Sarah Vaughan. I thought it would make a nice departure from all of the intense thrillers I read. You never know what’s going on in someone else’s life behind what they present to the outside world, and this story is a prime example of that. Each of these contestants isn’t just someone who wants to win a baking contest. As I read The Art of Baking Blind, I thought about the Food Network show, Chopped, and the reasons chefs give for wanting to win Chopped. Some of those reasons amaze me. Let’s just say there’s a lot more drama to baking in this novel than I’ve ever experienced while making my favorite cookies, and I was quite intrigued by it. And someone will win a pay-it-forward copy in our Week #2 Pop-Up Giveaway! Enter to win it at http://popcornreads.com/?p=8343.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Becky

    THE ART OF BAKING BLIND by Sarah Vaughan Vaughan has created five very likeable characters in the contestants for the “Next Mrs. Eaden, ‘ although Mike seems like the required male, an afterthought serving only as a foil for Claire’s Jay. Kathleen Eadon, who appears in back flashes, is the glue that serves to highlight each of the other character’s flaws and perfections. The book is lengthy (over 400 pages) but is a “quick” read. You will want to know the conclusion of the contest, and the soluti THE ART OF BAKING BLIND by Sarah Vaughan Vaughan has created five very likeable characters in the contestants for the “Next Mrs. Eaden, ‘ although Mike seems like the required male, an afterthought serving only as a foil for Claire’s Jay. Kathleen Eadon, who appears in back flashes, is the glue that serves to highlight each of the other character’s flaws and perfections. The book is lengthy (over 400 pages) but is a “quick” read. You will want to know the conclusion of the contest, and the solutions to each of the contestant’s (and Kathleen’s) dilemmas. The pronunciation of Kathleen’s last name might lead one to believe that housewifely skills always produce an “Eden” in one’s life -- and one would be wrong. I hope in the finished book there is a glossary of the British cookery terms – and pictures of the wonderful treats the bakers create. The descriptions of the baking projects are scrumptious and will send you to the kitchen -- or hustling off to the grocery. Book groups will find a “baker’s dozen” of topics for discussion – marriage, motherhood, cookery skills, self-worth, bulimia, miscarriage, contests , love vs sex, perfection and many more. 5 of 5 stars

  23. 5 out of 5

    Leigh

    The Art of Baking Blind is a contemplative look at the lives of contestants as they compete in a cooking contest. Each have their reasons for wanting to win—one wants the financial security that winning would give her, other wants to prove that her talent has value, another needs the re-assurance that life can managed if you follow a recipe. What I liked about the book: I liked the characters. They are fully fleshed out with faults, weaknesses, and attributes. It’s easy to become immersed in their The Art of Baking Blind is a contemplative look at the lives of contestants as they compete in a cooking contest. Each have their reasons for wanting to win—one wants the financial security that winning would give her, other wants to prove that her talent has value, another needs the re-assurance that life can managed if you follow a recipe. What I liked about the book: I liked the characters. They are fully fleshed out with faults, weaknesses, and attributes. It’s easy to become immersed in their lives. Their motivation for winning is as individualize as they are. And for each of the characters there is rewarding character growth as they re-evaluate their situations. I liked the historical aspect of the book. Kathleen Eaden’s life on the outside looked perfect, but Vaughan successfully illustrates that her fans only saw the surface as is true of any public figure. Since I have worked in the medical field I found the information about medical procedures both fascinating and a bit barbaric. The U.K. setting is engaging with similarities to our lives here in the U.S. but also with things –like village life that seems vastly different. The Art of Baking Blind is a rewarding read.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Helen

    In 1966 cookery writer Mrs Kathleen Eaden publishes The Art of Baking. It's a hit. A cookery book like Delia's, like Mary Berry's. Every household has a copy. Fast forward to the present and Eaden & Son's - a chain of upmarket supermarkets - is running a competition to find the next Mrs Eaden. There are five competitors who are to compete in a Bake Off style competition. All can bake. All have things going on in their lives behind the baking. Jenny, struggling now her family has grown up. Cl In 1966 cookery writer Mrs Kathleen Eaden publishes The Art of Baking. It's a hit. A cookery book like Delia's, like Mary Berry's. Every household has a copy. Fast forward to the present and Eaden & Son's - a chain of upmarket supermarkets - is running a competition to find the next Mrs Eaden. There are five competitors who are to compete in a Bake Off style competition. All can bake. All have things going on in their lives behind the baking. Jenny, struggling now her family has grown up. Claire, a young single mum. Vicki, a stay at home mum. Karen, a mum who strives for perfection. And Mike, a father to two young children and a widower. The Art of Baking Blind is a stunning novel. 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 hugs you tightly. I understand this is Sarah's debut. Can't wait to read her next.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I am not a keen baker myself, but that didn't matter. This is a well plotted book that will appeal to women in general and middle class mums in particular. I was reminded of Sebastian Faulks "A Week in December" as there are several story lines all woven together building to a dramatic conclusion. The writing style is easy to read with lots of contemporary references, contrasting with the prim tones of the 60's cookbook which head each chapter. I romped through it I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I am not a keen baker myself, but that didn't matter. This is a well plotted book that will appeal to women in general and middle class mums in particular. I was reminded of Sebastian Faulks "A Week in December" as there are several story lines all woven together building to a dramatic conclusion. The writing style is easy to read with lots of contemporary references, contrasting with the prim tones of the 60's cookbook which head each chapter. I romped through it and was left wanting more. A really enjoyable read..........and there was added bonus in that I have picked up lots of top tips on how to improve the rare cakes that I do bake! Highly recommended!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jenna

    Won this on Goodreads! A wonderful story about five individuals with a common passion for baking. They each come from different walks of life, with different backgrounds and insecurities. I loved getting to know Vicki, Jenny, Karen, Claire and Mike, who each have their own personality and are very well developed. I also loved the sixth character of this book: Kitty. The woman who brought these five people together and had a story all her own. Overall, I enjoyed the plot and the characters and I lo Won this on Goodreads! A wonderful story about five individuals with a common passion for baking. They each come from different walks of life, with different backgrounds and insecurities. I loved getting to know Vicki, Jenny, Karen, Claire and Mike, who each have their own personality and are very well developed. I also loved the sixth character of this book: Kitty. The woman who brought these five people together and had a story all her own. Overall, I enjoyed the plot and the characters and I loved the writing. This is a very strong debut novel; Sarah Vaughan is definitely an author to look out for.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    I won this book as part of a Goodreads giveaway. I would give this book more than 5 stars! Absolutely loved it. I smiled, laughed and cried my way through it. The writing style is clever and easy to read. The characters are strong, with real personality to them. 5 contestants in a baking competition, from all walks of life and yet each had something I could relate to. 1 star baker's story that was both heartbreaking and addictive. A truly brilliant and worthwhile read. You won't be sorry. Worthy I won this book as part of a Goodreads giveaway. I would give this book more than 5 stars! Absolutely loved it. I smiled, laughed and cried my way through it. The writing style is clever and easy to read. The characters are strong, with real personality to them. 5 contestants in a baking competition, from all walks of life and yet each had something I could relate to. 1 star baker's story that was both heartbreaking and addictive. A truly brilliant and worthwhile read. You won't be sorry. Worthy of 10 stars IMO. Thank you xx

  28. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    I really enjoyed this book. For fans of the Great British Baking Show, which I love, follows 5 contestants as they enter a competition for the next Mrs Eaden, the queen of baking in Britain. Wonderful book it delves into the characters & their connection to baking their lives and what the competition means for them.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Marjoleine Kok

    I really enjoyed reading this book. It explores 5 peoples lives and how they came to be in the competition. Each competitor is leads completely different lives to each other, each with their own issues,yet they compliment each other beautifully. I couldn't put this book down...just be warned some of the receipes in there will make you hungry !!!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Agi

    I was desperate to read "The Art of Baking Blind" for a long time already, and I thought that there couldn't be a better time for it now, when it's going to be published in paperback. I really can't have enough books about baking, or food in general, and this one was exceptional - the descriptions of the baking were full of heart and feeling, and it just taught me how to appreciate food anew. I am also a great fan of baking, and I do this really gladly, and even though I may not follow all the r I was desperate to read "The Art of Baking Blind" for a long time already, and I thought that there couldn't be a better time for it now, when it's going to be published in paperback. I really can't have enough books about baking, or food in general, and this one was exceptional - the descriptions of the baking were full of heart and feeling, and it just taught me how to appreciate food anew. I am also a great fan of baking, and I do this really gladly, and even though I may not follow all the rules set by Kathleen Eades, I consider myself not bad :) But maybe not good enough to take part in such competition as our characters. I like to bake. I truly like to bake. And I can bake. But those pieces of arts that our characters made have just put me full of shame in the corner with a tail between my legs. I really liked the way the story was told, as the descriptions of the baking competition or food intertwine with the descriptions of the characters' private lives. I didn't have a problem to connect with the characters, maybe because their lives were not so perfect, and I didn't feel confused at who is who. Some of the stories are more developed, some a little less, and there are many twists and turns, especially at the end, and if we are at the end already, I'd say that it felt a little too rushed for my liking, especially when we consider Jenny and Karen's stories. I missed some kind of sum - up, some kind of closure, and would love to see what happened after the competition. I also found there were moments in the book that were too flat and dragging on, and also I am still confused about the only male contestant in the competition - you see, I even forgot his name, I have it on the tip of my tongue, yes, Mike! - I am not sure about his role in the story to be honest, yes, of course, we may assume there was some kind of continuation with one of the other characters, but it was not so significant for my liking. I can say that his appearing in the scenes was as if he was coming and going as he wished and I didn't see anything important to his character. He could have been there, but the book wouldn't lost anything without him. I can't say that I had a favourite character. All the female participants had their own stories to tell, and all of them struggled with their lives, no matter what their demons were. They were all really great written, they had personalities and you could truly feel their struggles and problems. Jenny, a mother of three daughters that are flying the nest and a wife to a very unpleasant husband, is comfort eating and baking. Vicki, a teacher, right now at home with a 3 - year - old Alfie, working husband and a very cold and demanding mother - she wants everything to be perfect and she's close to the meltdown when the things don't run as smoothly as she wanted them to. Claire - a single mother to a lovely 10 - year - old Chloe, who's struggling to make the ends meet, and whose mother enters her to the competition, because Claire herself wouldn't dare to. Karen - the one that seems to have the perfect life, even though all members of her family live their own lives, Karen who never tastes her own creations - why? And Mike, the widower with two children - but in fact we don't know more about him, only that he re - trained to be a teacher after his wife's death. I liked all of them, some maybe more and some maybe less. I, of course, fell immediately for the poor Jenny, obese and comfort eating, with cold and cruel husband obsessed with healthy eating and running marathons, and I couldn't wait for her to come to her senses and leave him. I struggled a little with Vicky, who seemed not to know what she truly wants from life: on one hand, she wanted to have more children, on the other hand she struggled with her only one Alfie and wanted to get back to work. But also the backstage characters were truly greatly described! They didn't enter the scenes too often but when they did, I thought, wow! What personalities they are, they feel just like real people - and I can't not mention Jenny's husband, Nigel, here who was one of the most unpleasant characters I've come across in my books. They were all fully fleshed, they were not flawless, they had their faults and this is why they felt so genuine. Also Kathleen Eades was a significant person to the story. We may get only little clips about her, but they were enough to learn about her, her character, her dreams and her struggle. She was not only the face of her husband's grocery - chain shops, but she has also written the ultimate baking - book "The Art of Baking", and was also devoted mother and put her family absolutely on top of other things. All the time when I was reading this story, I was thinking what I can bake now. Really, I think it is impossible to not to think this, as the food described is incredible, and I felt my mouth watering only at the thought of trying all those goodies. And it is not only the food, but the meticulous descriptions of the way it was prepared, of the ingredients, and the way it was served - it was all so vivid and colourful. It was truly a beautiful novel, and Sarah's writing is brilliant. It not only is going to send you in the kitchen direction, but it also makes you think. The author has this incredible talent to pull you into the story and you don't want to leave this book. It's warm and down - to - earth, and it just feels genuine and honest. And this book is not only about baking. As I have already mentioned, all the characters had their own demons, and the author - with a lot of feelings, understanding and gentleness - deals with them. And Ms Vaughan decided to write about really many important issues, but even though they are mostly a little depressing and sad, it doesn't make the book feeling like this. She writes about the desire to have your own family, about not being able to have it, about miscarriages, but also about eating disorders, betrayal, loosing the beloved ones, coping with reality being a single parent. I think that the variety of the characters, their different backgrounds has made this book so exceptional and unique. The author so skilfully created a book that we think is going to be about a baking competition, but in fact is a wonderful recollection of people's lives - highly recommended. Copy received from publisher in exchange for a review.

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