By: Sarah Vaughan
Publisher: The Poisoned Pencil
Publication Date: May 2015
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: June 24, 2015
Sarah Vaughan conjures up a yummy read in her debut novel, The Art of Baking Blind.
Eaden’s Grocery Chain is in search of the ‘New Mrs. Eaden.’ What better way to discover the best of the best than to hold a baking competition? The place is Chelsea, England and Kathleen Eaden, baker extraordinaire and wife of millionaire/owner George Eaden is the inspiration. Her portrait is the anchor image on display in every Eaden’s grocery marketplace. Fifty years after its doors opened, the grocer is in search of the New Mrs. Eaden; a coveted role to carry the chain’s reputation forward and breathe new life into its existence.
The choices are made and the competitors are in place. There is Karen: the epitome of physical envy with her lean and lithe physique. How is it possible that someone with enviable baking skills is able to maintain what appears to be a less than zero body fat count? Mike, the only male in the competition, may be the dark horse. Of course homemaker Jennifer (‘Jenny’) is one to watch. Her outward appearance is a threat in and of itself with her grandmotherly curves and sweet disposition—obvious credentials for the quintessential baker. Chloe has her own reasons for seeking the coveted titled—barely out of her teens she is a single mom and would do anything to secure the purse and the promise of finding a way to support her young daughter. Vicki is a perfectionist. She loves her adoring son and husband, but now is her time to prove to her mother she can succeed. Perhaps with this win, her mother will finally acknowledge her accomplishment. It’s time for the group to don their stations and fill their mixing bowls...let the competition begin and may the one who is worthy be the one who is victorious...
Sarah Vaughan establishes a velvety and smooth cadence from the onset of The Art of Baking Blind. In many respects, I found myself wondering if she too is a baker given the gradual and consistent procession of folding plot into the mix as the story progressed—i.e., a pinch of drama, followed by a balance of prose. The overarching theme of the story is the cooking competition and Ms. Vaughan cleverly breaks down the sections into select categories of baked goods: i.e., beginning with Cakes, once the concept is mastered and the contestants have presented their respective masterpieces, it is time to move onto the next section: Bread. Throughout the read, there is the back story of the famed “Kathleen Eaden” that delves into her life story and struggles not only to attain motherhood, but the demands of being the ‘perfet’ Mrs. Eaden. Ms. Vaughan stays true to her subject matter and demonstrates a solid knowledge of the ‘art of baking’ that creates strong credibility for the characters she has created. With summer upon us, this is a great read to take along on vacation. Well done Ms. Vaughan. I look forward to your next book.
Quill says: The Art of Baking Blind is a scrumptious read that will pair well with a shoreline, toes in the sand and just enough breeze to turn the pages!