Title: The Bake-Off
Author: Beth Kendrick
Release Date: May 3, 2011
Publisher: NAL Trade
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5
Linnie and Amy are sisters, but they go together like oil and water. A prodigy from a young age, Linnie always had the attention of the family, leaving Amy alone, clamoring for some sort of recognition. The entire family was shocked when Linnie dropped out of college after just one semester, a burn out at a tender young age. Years later, working as a dealer in a Las Vegas casino, Linnie finds herself in desperate need of money. She turns to her grandmother for help, who enrolls Linnie and Amy in a baking competition in order to try and bring the two estranged sisters together again.
I’ve enjoyed Beth Kendrick’s previous novels (reviews of Second Time Around, The Pre-Nup, and Nearlyweds), so when I heard she had a new book coming out, I was gleeful. I was especially excited when I heard the title, The Bake-Off, because I knew that meant it would be filled with mouthwatering descriptions of food.
At its core, The Bake-Off is about sisters, which I really loved. Amy and Linnie are as different as they can be, yet they have one thing in common: they both want what they didn’t have growing up. For Amy, it was the recognition that she was smart too, even if she didn’t have the genius-level IQ of her sister. What made it worse was that Linnie was (and is) drop dead gorgeous, while Amy is just attractive. Meanwhile, Linnie wanted the normal childhood that Amy had. She put unhealthy amounts on pressure on herself to succeed because she felt like if she didn’t have her off-the-charts intelligence, she’d no longer have anything. It was really interesting to see how these two women perceived each other, versus how they saw themselves, and look at the vast space between the two.
It takes a lot for Amy and Linnie to begin to put aside their differences and start working together, but it’s really heartwarming to watch the process. It helps that some of their opponents are so laughably despicable (though they become more layered as the story progresses) that they are both willing to do anything to beat them, even if it means trusting one another. The background of the baking competition is a fun, endearing setting for the personal story taking place in front of the reader.
The Bake-Off was a quick, easy read that I thoroughly enjoyed from beginning to end. I loved the overarching theme of sisters, as well as the crazy antics Amy and Linnie put themselves up to. It really is a heartwarming story, and I highly recommend it to fans of women’s fiction and stories about sisters - just make sure you have some sort of cake on hand while you’re reading