What Would Mary Berry Do?

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For fans of The Great British Bake Off, this is a story about family life, unfriendly rivalry and flat Victoria sponges

Marie Dunwoody doesn’t want for much in life. She has a lovely husband, three wonderful children, and a business of her own. Except, her cupcakes are crap. Her meringues are runny and her biscuits rock-hard. She cannot bake for toffee. Or, for that matter, make toffee.

Marie can’t ignore the disappointed looks any more, or continue to be shamed by neighbour and nemesis, Lucy Gray. Lucy whips up perfect profiteroles with one hand, while ironing her bed sheets with the other. Marie’s had enough: this is the year it all changes. She vows to follow – to the letter – recipes from the Queen of Baking and at all times ask ‘What would Mary Berry do?’

Husband Robert has noticed that his boss takes crumb structure as seriously as budget sheets and so puts on the pinny: serious redundancies are on the horizon. Twins Rose and Iris are happy to eat all the half-baked mistakes that come their way, but big brother Angus is more distant than usual, as if something is troubling him. And there is no one as nosey as a matching pair of nine-year-old girls . . .

Marie starts to realise that the wise words of Mary Berry can help her with more than just a Victoria Sponge. But can Robert save the wobbling soufflé that is his career? And is Lucy’s sweet demeanour hiding something secretly sour?

*** This is a work of fiction, in no way endorsed by Mary Berry, and where neither Mary Berry herself nor her recipes feature. ***

My opinion: When I received a copy of this book in the post I really liked the look of it, and was really intrigued whether it would just be another book about cake as there are so many around at the moment.

Marie is a working mum with three children and loving husband Robert, who feels that she doesn’t live up to her supermum neighbour Lucy. Particularly when twin daughters Rose and Iris forget to tell her that she is supposed to be baking the showstopper for the school fair. Lucy seems to be a Stepford Wife style woman, with a perfect life – always perfectly dressed, has a loving husband and step daughter, lady like and above all a fantastic baker. But things aren’t always what they seem and Marie finds out what life is really like on the other side whilst on her quest to conquer Mary Berry’s recipes and bake a showstopper that is memorable for the right reasons.

This is a whopper of a book, but I couldn’t put it down. I really felt that I connected with Marie straight away. She’s trying to juggle her career and business, being a mother and also being a wife and I for one think that she is doing a damn fine job of it. I really liked reading about the family and Lucy grew on me as I got to know more about her. I liked that there was a bit of baking rivalry between Marie and her husband Robert and some of his creations really made my mouth water!

I had never heard of Claire Sandy before, but will definitely be looking out for more of her writing. I think that this book would attract all ages of readers and isn’t just a straightforward romance novel or family saga – I think it really encompasses a lot of things that readers like in women’s fiction. I’d definitely recommend this book, and although it is quite large, it feels well paced and was really enjoyable. A good read to curl up and relax with.

My rating: A scrumptious four stars.

I received an advance review copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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