The Art of Blind Baking by Sarah Vaughan (St. Martin’s Press, May 5, 2015)
Kathleen Eaden became an iconic cookbook author, life-stylist and supermarket owner in the mid-sixties; she died last year and her empire is looking for someone to put a new face on Mrs. Eaden. Five very different contestants gather at Kathleen’s home to vie for the title by baking their way through dcakes pies, tarts, biscuits (cookies) and a formal tea tray. Jenny has been struggling with her weight for years and is now struggling with her marriage as her husband becomes obsessed with his weight and exercise; Vicki has given up her life to be a stay-at-home mom and is still very much under the disapproving eye of her mother. Karen, from all outward appearances has the perfect life: the perfect husband, son and house, but it takes the slightest thing to crack her veneer. Mike is a recent widower raising his two children on his own and finally Claire, who has given up her hopes and dreams to provide a life for her daughter. Together, these five contestants form unusual bonds and confess things to strangers that they will barely admit to themselves. Little by little, as their recipes come together and final products are produced, each person gets better perspective into their own life and gains a little bit of courage to soldier on a little better off than before. Full of heart, this debut novel is as warm and inviting as the baked goods created by the next Kathleen Eaden.