The Golden Spoon by Jessa Maxwell
Published by Atria Books
Publication date: March 7, 2023
Genres: Debut, Fiction, Mystery, Vacation Reading
It was only a matter of time before some clever writer jumped on the Great British Bake Off juggernaut and wrote a novel about it. In this case, the author is Jessa Maxwell and the novel is The Golden Spoon, a murder mystery on the set of the American version of GBBO. Known as Bake Week, the show is filming its tenth season when things in the tent begin to heat up and it’s not the bakes.
Bake Week is the brainchild of Betsey Martin, a celebrity baker and author saddled with a lovely, but expensive estate in Vermont. Filming the show at the manor helps defray the upkeep costs, but after a decade both Betsey and the show are getting a bit tired. For the first time, the producers have insisted she add a co-host, Archie Morris, the bad boy of baking, and she’s not happy. Into this mix (I’m sorry, the puns are simply too easy in this review) Maxwell throws the six amateur bakers assembled from around the U.S. Each loves the show, loves to bake, but also has something to prove to themselves.
At first there are minor slipups with the bakes and eliminations, but when someone turns up dead inside the tent it becomes clear that there are larger motives at play than winning a golden spoon. The question The Golden Spoon is: is it a power struggle behind the scenes or a fanatical baker willing to wield more than a spatula to take home the prize?
Maxwell begins with great ingredients in the novel. You have the shy young baker, the kindly grandmother, a woodworker, a bored millionaire, someone new to the baking world, and an OCD ?? mixed with two judges who eerily resemble the real GBBO judges. But, to batter the comparisons between novel and TV show even further, in the same way originality is needed to win Bake Off it’s needed here. Instead, there are few surprises in the story, making The Golden Spoon the white cake/vanilla buttercream frosting of murder mysteries. A traditional recipe, but without anything to make it stand out. Yummy for light vacation reading.
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*I received a free copy of this book from Atria in exchange for an honest review.*