PBS Books Readers Club – Olivia Ford

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About the Book:

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Nothing could be more out of character, but after fifty-nine years of marriage, as her husband Bernard’s health declines, and her friends’ lives become focused on their grandchildren—which Jenny never had—Jenny decides she wants a little something for herself. So she secretly applies to be a contestant on the prime-time TV show Britain Bakes.

Whisked into an unfamiliar world of cameras and timed challenges, Jenny delights in a new-found independence. But that independence, and the stress of the competition, starts to unearth memories buried decades ago. Chocolate teacakes remind her of a furtive errand involving a wedding ring; sugared doughnuts call up a stranger’s kind act; a simple cottage loaf brings back the moment her life changed forever.

With her baking star rising, Jenny struggles to keep a lid on that first secret—a long-concealed deceit that threatens to shatter the very foundations of her marriage. It’s the only time in six decades that she’s kept something from Bernard. By putting herself in the limelight, has Jenny created a recipe for disaster?

Guest Biography:

Olivia Ford

Olivia Ford - Headshot

Olivia Ford has spent a decade in entertainment TV, including Made in Chelsea and Love Island. Olivia is a graduate of the Faber Academy, where she wrote the beginnings of Mrs. Quinn’s Rise to Fame, which was long-listed for the 2021 Women’s Prize Trust’s Discoveries Prize. Raised in Lincolnshire, Olivia now lives in London.

Readers Club Hosts:

Heather Marie Montilla - Headshot

Heather-Marie Montilla, a dynamic integrative leader, is an educator and nonprofit manager. She has worked in the nonprofit sector and libraries for over two decades, making a positive impact in arts, cultural, educational, and community-building arenas.

Having joined the PBS Books team as their Library Bureau Chief in Fall 2018, Montilla is now the National Director of PBS Books and has interviewed more than 150 writers. In addition, she is a faculty member at Michigan State University and Eastern Michigan University for their Arts and Cultural/Entertainment Management Programs. Having been an Executive Director for 8 years, Heather has a wide range of experience in management, finance, strategic planning, marketing, and fundraising. Heather holds a MPA From Columbia University, a MLIS from Wayne State University, and a bachelor’s from Duke University. She lives in Chicagoland, and is married with four children, a dog, and a bird.

Princess Weekes is an award winning writer and video essayist who works at breaking down the intersections between race, gender, and pop culture. Formally an Assistant Editor at The Mary Sue, co-host of Netflix’s The Geeked Podcast, and co-host and co-writer on the PBS Digital Series It’s Lit. On weekends she works as a bookseller at a local bookstore. When not reading or writing she can be found playing TTRPGs of cuddling with her cat, Lola.

Lauren Smith - Headshot

Executive Producer and host of national PBS programming at Detroit Public TV, Lauren develops content for PBS and other distributors of public media for broadcast, streaming, and other digital channels and has executive-produced and/or produced over 60 national broadcast and programs. Her passion is to develop inspiring, entertaining, and educational content alongside the best national and international talent, and to engage important content with communities across the country. Lauren loves to read and has worked to develop and produce PBS Books content for nearly ten years!

Fred Nahhat is an Emmy Award-winning producer, host, and presenter for Detroit’s PBS station, where he serves as Sr. VP of Production. A 30-year broadcast veteran, Fred has hosted and produced numerous programs for Public TV – including music specials from Il Volo, Celtic Gold and the New Divas – as well as other series and specials “New Year’s Eve with the DSO”, “The Detroit Dream Cruise,” “The PBS Books Readers Club” and “Get Up, Get Out,” among others.

He is a graduate of Wayne State University and a member of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Michigan Chapter, USA Hockey, and Leadership Detroit.

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