Wednesday, February 3, 2021

The Kitchen Front by Jennifer Ryan


I've been reading a lot of historical fiction this month. Maybe I'm trying to make up for the lack of it in my 2020 reading list? I have been ping-ponging between quite a few books, and not making a big dent in any of them. So, what I do when that happens is start another book. Ha! This was a quick read, and I enjoyed it very much. It was just what I needed to read.

The Kitchen Front is based on an actual World War 2 contest that was sponsored by the BBC. In this novel, four women in the small town of Finley Village enter the contest hoping to be the winner. For each of them, it means a chance to change their lives for the better. Audrey is a widow with three children, barely hanging onto her home by baking pies and scones for the locals. Lady Gwendoline is Audrey's estranged sister. She is all about appearance and making her stuffy, nasty husband proud. Nell is a servant for Lady Gwendoline, and a very talented young cook. She dreams of leaving her position for something better. And Zelda Dupont is a talented chef from London, forced to relocate to Finley Village to work at a factory. She's determined to win the contest so she may return to London and become head chef at a posh restaurant. 

Part of the charm of this novel is the progression from four women who are against each other to firm friends who help each other through difficult issues. Realizing friendship is most important. The ingenuity and talent each woman shows in creating recipes for each of the three courses shows just how gifted they all are--you'll find yourself cheering them all on--but of course, there can be only one winner. 

If you want a feel good historical novel, this is it. I find myself a little burned out of World War 2 fiction, and tend to avoid reading a lot of it. Years of bookselling and talking about World War 2 fiction--usually trends come and go in genres, yet this trend is still going strong. I made an exception for this novel, and I am glad I did. I loved the combination of history, women's struggles and friendships, and the cooking. It was a quick read and thoroughly enjoyable. 

The Kitchen Front will be released in the U.S. on February 23rd, 2021. A big thank you to Edelweiss for providing me with an advanced e-arc. 

Rating: 4/6 for a World War 2 novel that explores female friendship during difficult times. A fascinating look at how women coped with restrictive food rations, air raids, and keeping family and friendships together. 

Available in hardcover, large print, ebook, and audio. 

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