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A Half Baked Idea Reviews

A Half Baked Idea by Olivia Potts

A Half Baked Idea

How grief, love and cake took me from the courtroom to Le Cordon Bleu

Olivia Potts

3.80 out of 5

3 reviews

Imprint: Fig Tree
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Publication date: 25 Jul 2019
ISBN: 9780241380451

At the moment her mother died, Olivia Potts was baking a cake, badly. She was trying to impress the man who would later become her husband. Afterwards, grief pushed Olivia into the kitchen. She came home from her job as a criminal barrister miserable and tired, and baked soda bread, pizza, and chocolate banana cake. Her cakes sank and her custard curdled. But she found comfort in jams and solace in pies, and what began as a distraction from grief became a way of building a life outside grief, a way of surviving, and making sense of her life without her mum. And so she concocted a plan: she would begin a newer, happier life, filled with fewer magistrates and more macaroons.

3 stars out of 5
Prue Leith
24 Aug 2019

"a gentle, lovely book"

This is a gentle, lovely book. It will, I’m sure, appeal to many an aspiring cook and baker, and should be read by anyone grieving for the loss of someone they loved... At first, I found it unengaging. The stages of grief — denial, anger, resentment of other people’s happiness, manic displacement activity, exhaustion, sudden outbursts of either wracking sobs or unsuitable laughter — are well-written and honest, but too familiar, too predictable. (Though what did I want? Originality in grief?) But gradually I was drawn in to Olivia Potts’ almost obsessive love for her mother, and her ways of coping — or not coping — with her death... The point is, this is not a cookbook, despite the chapter-end recipes. It’s a love story, with sadness, humour and tension. It’s uplifting, too. 


4 stars out of 5

"Potts writes powerfully about the nature of grief"

Potts writes powerfully about the nature of grief, yet she has the lightest of touches with her sensuous descriptions of food. Like a sponge cake sandwiched together with a runny icing, the two halves of A Half Baked Idea don't always gel, but it's a delightful read — and there are some terrific recipes in it, too.

4 stars out of 5
PD Smith
1 Aug 2019

"it manages to be moving, funny and mouth-watering in equal measure"

Olivia Potts was overwhelmed by grief when her mother died unexpectedly at the age of 54: “My mother was my best friend. After she died, I felt so fucking lonely.” A 25-year-old barrister, Potts had only just passed her bar exams and was working at a criminal law chambers in London, and hoping to be offered tenancy. Within days of her mother’s death, “Miss Potts of Counsel” was back in court, dressed in horse-hair wig and black gown. But by burying her pain it became the foundation of her identity, transforming her into “Grief Girl” and changing the course of her life... This is 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.