Mrs. Quinn's Rise to Fame: A Novel

Image of Mrs. Quinn's Rise to Fame: A Novel
Release Date: 
January 30, 2024
Pamela Dorman Books
Reviewed by: 

Jenny Quinn and her husband Bernard have settled into retirement in the peaceful small English village of Kittlesham, where Jenny immerses herself in her love of baking and the comfort of old family recipes. Married for 59 years, Jenny and Bernard dote on each other and neither can imagine life without the other . . . but for Jenny, something is missing.

Mrs. Quinn’s Rise to Fame by Olivia Ford is the story of Jenny who is looking back on her life through a bittersweet lens, knowing that, at her age, she may not have much more time left. This realization hits her hard one night while she and her Bernard are watching her favorite television program, Britain Bakes. It is during that program on that particular evening that Jenny decides to do something new and daring before it’s too late.

Without telling her husband, Jenny applies to become a contestant on Britain Bakes. She doesn’t feel completely comfortable keeping it a secret from Bernard, but she rationalizes that there’s no point telling him unless she actually wins a spot on the program. But there’s something else bothering her . . . this isn’t the only secret she has kept from her husband. There’s a bigger one, something she has hidden from him their entire marriage—a secret she always feared would destroy their life together if he should ever find it out.

Although the narrative is somewhat predictable, both the secret revealed in the backstory and the secret in the present blend together in a skillful way that is easy to follow as the author ties the past and present together through recipes from Jenny’s childhood. In this way, despite a somewhat familiar theme and a sense of knowing what is coming, the author manages to hold the reader’s interest.

Mrs. Quinn’s Rise to Fame is an engaging novel, although, as well-written as they are, the baking scenes among the contestants are perhaps a bit more drawn out than they need to be. The main characters, Jenny and Bernard, are relatable and appear as people worth knowing. The book is also a fine reminder that older folks have the same emotions, talents, joys, losses, and need for love as do younger people. We are reminded that, no matter a person’s age, nobody should be overlooked because everyone has something to offer and their own unique way of touching the lives of others.

With mouthwatering chapter titles such as Cottage Loaf, Bread and Butter Pudding, Rhubarb and Custard Drizzle Cakes, and Gingerbread All Saints Church it’s easy to see how Mrs. Quinn’s Rise to Fame will interest readers of cozy fiction as well as others who are looking for a book that will bring sweet relief.