Review: Saved By Cake - over 80 ways to bake yourself happy, by Marian Keyes

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Hello Dear Readers!

It's the end of another week and so I settle down to write to you once more.   Although I blog just once a week, I try to keep my content varied and interesting, so today I want to bring you a review of a book I really enjoyed using.

As you know, although predominantly into fibre craft, all crafts appeal to me, and I've tried lots and lots.  One particular craft that I return to again and again is baking. 

It might surprise you to hear me refer to baking as a craft, but to me it is.  You are creating something new from component parts, the process is therapeutic, the result is at least pleasing to some senses if not a thing of beauty  - I think here of course at my poor attempts at piping icing.  It is artistic and requires patience and, depending on how you want the finish to be, skill. 

Baking also brings joy to others and baked goods make the perfect accompaniment to craft sessions.  Who doesn't enjoy knit and natter with a cup of tea and a piece of cake? 

For me, cakes and baking means so much more than a slice of indulgence in the afternoon.  It means fundraising, companionship, friendship, celebration, commiseration.  Cake can help to mop up the tears, to gee a weary work team up before yet another long week.  It can mark milestones both happy and sad. 

So what has prompted me to write about this particular book now?

Well, readers, simply put it's because I thought of someone else.  I have a friend who, like me, is going through a difficult time.  However one of the things she's found herself doing a lot of is baking.  It helps.  Hearing this, I immediately thought of this book, and I shall tell you why. 

A few years ago, goodness it must be 6 or 7 by now, I was feeling very stressed at work (that old chestnut) and my boss came in with this book for me.  She knew I liked baking, was a baking enthusiast herself, and it was a "saw-it-and-thought-of-you" moment.  I took it home, made a cuppa, and settled down to read.

What struck me was the tone, and the honesty with which Marian Keyes wrote her introduction to this book.  I'd heard of her before, of course, she's a writer - quite a popular one: her website tells us that "for over 20 years, Marian has been writing funny, internationally best-selling fiction about modern women in the modern world."  I'd read some of her books, found them hilarious, and so to read that Keyes had been suffering from depression and really struggling shocked me. 

It was the first time I'd heard someone talk openly and frankly about depression, which in itself shows how much has changed in such a short space of time over the past few years, and it surprised me that someone so successful, with such sparkling charm and wit, could be suffering like this.  Depression, you see, is not discriminatory.  It doesn't just pick people you might expect, people down on their luck, suffering personal tragedy.  Think of the late Robin Williams - comedic actor and national treasure.  Think of George Michael, who has only this week been revealed as a victim of suicide.  So in its way this book was groundbreaking just in its honesty.

 I didn't think I was depressed at that stage, still don't, but I was frustrated and unhappy.  Reading the way Keyes wrote about baking and what it brought her, still with some of that characteristic wit (images of neighbours pretending they were out so as to avoid having yet more cake came to mind), made me think about what baking brings to you as an individual.  I dove in.

The photography is delightful, the cakes delicious, the introductions and anecdotes will make you laugh aloud, or at least crack a smile.  The recipes are easy to follow and it does feel like a friend is in your kitchen, nattering away with you as you crack eggs together into a bowl.  All in all a warm, friendly, companionable book.

After a few years, I honestly still haven't worked my way through all the recipes, and now I won't as I've since gifted the book to my friend for whom baking is bringing solace.  But I can heartily recommend the honey cake, assure you that the millionaire's shortbread does work (the story of indignation on Keyes' part when her husband blithely and casually gave her the recipe is bound to make you chuckle), and pass on one of the most important pieces of wisdom from the book:  you can never have too many cookie cutters! 

Don't take my word for it, go and add this book to your collection.  Maybe just add in one or two extra trips to the gym! hehe! 

What's your favourite recipe book and why?  Please tell me in the comments! xxx


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