What’s it about?
From the moment she came into the world – two weeks early, throwing her parents’ lives into disarray – Mary has gracefully but firmly done things her own way.
Born in 1935, in the city of Bath, Mary’s childhood was a curious mix of idyllic picnics and ramblings, and alarming air raids; of a spirited and outdoorsy home life and a dreaded school existence. All nearly cut horribly short by an almost fatal bout of polio when she was thirteen, which isolated Mary in hospital, away from beloved family and friends for months.
Recovery saw her turn to her one true passion – cookery. And so began a love affair that has – so far – spanned six remarkable decades; from demonstrating ovens in the early 1950s to producing glossy food magazines in the 60s and 70s, gradually becoming the country’s most prolific and – many would say – best loved cookery writer. Until her emergence in the 21st century as a TV sensation and style icon on the Great British Bake Off.
As a working mother, at the heart of a busy household, Mary became an expert at the art of juggling, even bringing her working life into her home with her Aga school. And there have been challenges, one terrible tragedy and many joys along the way.
As a fan of the Great British Bake Off and the charms of Mary Berry I’d had her autobiography on my book shelf since a couple of Christmasses ago but with the show starting this month I decided now was a good time to read it. I noticed from the first few pages that Mary’s voice just comes out of the pages so definitely feels that she properly wrote the book 😉
If you’ve ever wondered how Mary grew to fame and why she’s considered the baking authority she is then this will give you all that and much more. Marking or grading how interesting someone’s life is seems quite harsh but for me this was a 5*. I suppose you read an autobiography because you like that person and already have an interest in them and I know I’m bias because I am a Mary fan, and yes this book is quite twee, very middle class and fortunate and some of it comes across as very jolly hockey sticks but it’s also her life laid bare; wonderfully inspirational with some very sad and touching memories which endears her all the more to me.
And I just like her a little bit more for this quote on walking….
I was young, walking for walking’s own sake was to be avoided if at all possible.
Interspersed with Mary’s memories are lots of photos and some of her recipes, my favourite was right at the end of the book – Wonderful Apple Cake, I’ll have a go at baking that soon as it would be the perfect Autumnal bake.
Visit Mary’s website
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