When my mother died, I was cooking. I was not a cook. I did not cook. I ate high-street-chain sandwiches, supermarket filled pasta, and more takeaway kebabs than I was comfortable admitting. My rare, haphazard forays into the kitchen led to fallen cakes, burnt biscuits, and stringy stews. But I had also recently started dating a man - a man who was very keen on cooking, and whom I was keen to impress. One weekend, he suggested we cook together for friends. And I thought, Oh god, that sounds like a terrible idea. But I said, "Sounds great." And so I found myself standing in a kitchen that was not my own, baking a cake alongside a man I didn't know.
Meanwhile, 275 miles away, my mother was dying.
At the moment her mother died, Olivia Potts was baking a cake. She was trying to impress a man, a cooking enthusiast who would later become her husband. Grief-stricken by the news, Olivia took to the kitchen. She came home from her job as a criminal barrister miserable and tired, and baked soda bread, pizza, and chocolate banana cake (mostly unsuccessfully). It brought her comfort, and so she concocted a plan- she would begin a newer, happier life, filled with fewer magistrates and more macaroons. She left the bar for Le Cordon Bleu, plunging headfirst into the eccentric world of patisserie. Interspersed with recipes ranging from passionfruit pavlova to her mother's shepherd's pie, this is a heart-breaking, hilarious, life-affirming memoir about dealing with grief, falling in love, and learning how to bake a really, really good cake.
Do not read this book without a clean handkerchief and a full larder. I laughed, I cried, I baked gingerbread biscuits . . . Potts is a writer who clasps you to her floury bosom and wraps you in your apron strings. There is wit and warmth on every page. This is a book of courage, consolation and more custard than you can shake a whisk at * Laura Freeman, Times *
I cannot express how much I adored this book. It made me laugh, cry, salivate and, on no less than four occasions, resolve to learn patisserie and leave the criminal Bar. Olivia Potts has delivered a tender and beautifully written tour-de-force on the four tenets of the human experience; love, grief, hope and cake. If this is not the book of the summer, I will eat my wig. An absolute triumph * The Secret Barrister *
A heart-wrenching yet humorous portrayal of grief, a delicious collection of recipes, an inspirational tale of changing careers, and a feel good love story * Vogue *
An honest, brave and funny account of what it is to love, to lose love and how to make macarons * Red *
I loved it so much. It's funny, sharp, sad and full of clear observations about food. I laughed so much (and I cried) * Ella Risbridger, author of Midnight Chicken *
A brilliant, brave and beautiful book: funny and charming; utterly inspiring and life-affirming. I loved it * Olivia Sudjic *
Tender . . . filled with the comfort we all seek when dealing with grief * Stylist *
Potts writes powerfully about the nature of grief, yet she has the lightest of touches with her sensuous descriptions of food. A delightful read - and there are some terrific recipes in it, too * Daily Mail *
A heart-warming book about death and new beginnings that will delight cake lovers; it manages to be moving, funny and mouth-watering in equal measure - a difficult literary confection to master * Guardian *
Uplifting . . . tender * i *
An utterly beautiful, moving, bittersweet book on love and loss. I loved it * Dolly Alderton *
Heartbreaking and heartwarming in turns, it's a candid account of dealing with bereavement * Waitrose Weekend *
An open-hearted, uproariously funny, moving love story. It will make you laugh and cry in equal measure, and fall in love with baking, with eating, and with love itself. A remarkable book by an enormously talented writer * Kate Young, author of The Little Library Cookbook *
Honest, humorous and peppered with great recipes * Delicious *
Her writing inspires resilience * Woman & Home *
She writes with the precision required of a pastry chef. . . finely observed descriptions of texture, taste and smell. A love story, with sadness, humour and tension. Uplifting * Prue Leith, Spectator *