My Life from Scratch: A Sweet Journey of Starting Over, One Cake at a Time by Gesine Bullock-Prado
I’ve mentioned before how much I adore memoirs, especially food memoirs. I grabbed this one not because of the fame of the author (or at least the author’s sister), but because of the topic: a woman in a career she dislikes who leaves it all to open a bakery. Sounds delicious.
And her baking sounds truly scrumptious. The hardest part about the book is reading it and not having immediate access to the delights she describes. I’ve had little experience with German pastries, so several of the items she details are unfamiliar to my tastebuds, and I lamented that fact.
I liked the attempted structure of the book; organized by time of day, and what she’s doing at her bakery at that time. Unfortunately some of her stories feel shoehorned into the format and it doesn’t completely work. It’s still kind of fun though, especially how it lets me appreciate NOT being a professional baker with the hours that requires. Those early morning hours are brutal.
She mentions her famous sister, Sandra Bullock, but always in natural ways that fit with the stories she’s sharing. I was slightly concerned that it would read like a continual “by the way, I’ve got a famous movie star for a sister” text, but it doesn’t. She’s close to her sister, but she talks about her because she’s her sister, not because she’s famous. And she’s realistic enough to acknowledge that yes, it helped her get her bakery established thanks to her sister’s mention. She had to be good enough to back it up through her skill though!
I never felt like her husband was that much of a presence in the story. Perhaps because he doesn’t have as big of a role in the bakery, and is often still in Hollywood at his job? Mostly I noticed because two of the last nonfiction books had the husbands/boyfriends with such significant roles in the story. With Bullock-Prado’s book, I kept forgetting what her husband’s name was!
Overall, I enjoyed the book, but unless you’re a die-hard food memoir fan, it’s not a must-read. If you’re curious about life as a bakery owner, I think it’s a fairly realistic look at the challenges that sort of schedule brings, as well as all the other challenges inherent in being a small-business owner. Except for the whole initial publicity boost most small-business owners can’t expect. It’s not that I had major problems with the book or think it’s terrible. It’s fine. I liked it. I just don’t feel like it’s compelling enough to encourage everyone I know to read it.
One thing to note, the book was originally published in hardcover under the title “Confections of a Closet Master Baker: One Woman’s Sweet Journey from Unhappy Hollywood Executive to Contented Country Baker,” but it was retitled for the paperback publication. So the story might sound familiar even if the title doesn’t.
A former Hollywood insider trades the Hollywood Hills for Green Acres—and lives to tell about it in this hilarious, poignant treat of a memoir.
As head of her celebrity sister’s production company, Gesine Bullock-Prado had a closet full of designer clothes and the ear of all the influential studio heads, but she was miserable. The only solace she found was in her secret hobby: baking. With every sugary, buttery confection to emerge from her oven, Gesine took one step away from her glittery, empty existence—and one step closer to her true destiny. Before long, she and her husband left the trappings of their Hollywood lifestyle behind, ending up in Vermont, where they started the gem known as Gesine Confectionary. And they never looked back. Confections of a Closet Master Baker follows Gesine’s journey from sugar-obsessed child to miserable, awkward Hollywood insider to reluctant master baker. Chock-full of eccentric characters, beautifully detailed descriptions of her baking process, ceaselessly funny renditions of Hollywood nonsense, and recipes, the ingredients of her story will appeal to anyone who has ever considered leaving the life they know and completely starting over.
Title: My Life from Scratch: A Sweet Journey of Starting Over, One Cake at a Time
Author: Gesine Bullock-Prado
Category: Nonfiction / Memoir
Length: 240 pages
My Rating: 3 Stars
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