My roommate and I have been watching a lot of The Great British Bake Off recently, so when I read the synopsis for The Art of Baking Blind by Sarah Vaughan, I knew it would be my next read. I spent this past chilly weekend of sub-zero weather tucked away reading it.
The Art of Baking Blind follows five competitors as they bake for the chance to become the next Mrs. Eaden. Mrs. Eaden is a recently deceased cookbook author and figurehead for the popular Eaden grocery store chain. Woven in between the competitors’ alternating narratives is that of Kathleen Eaden herself, uncovering the personal story behind her great cookbook.
The structure of the plot, skipping from character to character, both created momentum that kept me reading and frustrated me. I’d have liked to spend more significant chunks of time with each character in their introductory sections, because it took me a while to tell the different women apart. However, leaving and popping back in to some of the stories raised the suspense, and the lengths seemed to even out as it went along.
The most compelling plot, for me, was that of Kathleen Eaden, who had a series of miscarriages in spite of her book’s emphasis on baking with–and for–children. Her sections were the ones I most enjoyed reading, drawn in by their contrast with the snippets from her book peppered at the start of chapters.
I tore through this book in eagerness to see what would happen to Kathleen and, to a lesser degree, some of the contestants of the baking competition. Ultimately, though, I didn’t feel entirely satisfied with the ending. The winner was never really in much question, and things just sort of seemed to trickle off for many of the plots. This is possibly because it took me so long to sort out the female contestants that I never really got properly invested in any of their stories.
All in all, this was a fun read for me, and certainly brought out a different perspective on shows like The Great British Bake Off. While I dislike star-rating systems generally, I think the middle-of-the-road 3-star rating I gave it on Goodreads is the best way I can describe my feelings about this book–fun, but it probably won’t stick with me.