Title: The Kitchen Front
Author: Jennifer Ryan
Publication: February 23, 2021
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Genre: Historical Fiction
SYNOPSIS: (From Goodreads)
In a new World War II-set story from the bestselling author of The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir, four women compete for a spot hosting a wartime cookery program called The Kitchen Front – based on the actual BBC program of the same name – as well as a chance to better their lives.
Two years into WW2, Britain is feeling her losses; the Nazis have won battles, the Blitz has destroyed cities, and U-boats have cut off the supply of food. In an effort to help housewives with food rationing, a BBC radio program called The Kitchen Front is putting on a cooking contest–and the grand prize is a job as the program’s first-ever female co-host. For four very different women, winning the contest presents a crucial chance to change their lives.
For a young widow, it’s a chance to pay off her husband’s debts and keep a roof over her children’s heads. For a kitchen maid, it’s a chance to leave servitude and find freedom. For the lady of the manor, it’s a chance to escape her wealthy husband’s increasingly hostile behavior. And for a trained chef, it’s a chance to challenge the men at the top of her profession.
These four women are giving the competition their all–evebn if that sometimes means bending the rules. But with so much at stake, will the contest that aims to bring the community together serve only to break it apart?
**A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**
When I received an email from a publisher asking me if was willing to review a new book by an author since I read her debut novel The Chillbury Ladies Choir. I was so excited because I had really really liked her first book. I was intrigued by this book since it had to do with cooking and World War 2. I was interested to see how these two topics were going to join together.
We join Audrey, Zelda, Nell, and Lady Gwendoline. Four women who are trying to navigate the war in their own way. Audrey, who is a home cook and is trying to find a new normal with her three boys after her husband is shot down over Dusseldorf. Zelda, whose unplanned pregnancy is forcing her to move out of London and work in a pie factory. Lady Gwendoline, who thinks she is all-knowing when it comes to cooking because she works for the Ministry of Food and is a Home Economist. Finally, we have shy Nell who works for Lady Gwendoline as a kitchen maid. These women as thrust together when they all compete for BBC and the chance to be on the cooking show The Kitchen Front as a female voice of the program. This book was absolutely enthralling. I loved it from start to finish. I had to read just one more chapter about each character. I found myself losing track of time as I read it. I loved watching the friendships unfold and rekindle as the books went.
I was amazed to learn that The Kitchen Front was actually a program that the BBC had during wartime. While the women in the story didn’t actually exist Ambrose’s character is loosely based off the male presenter. I loved each of these characters, I think out of all of them, Audrey is my spirit animal. Her personality out of all of them just spoke to me. I was happy to see that Lady Gwendoline, who by the end goes by just Gwen and Audrey finally clear the air between them and become best friends again. Just to forewarn you, and maybe you aren’t as sensitive as me, I spent the last few chapters sobbing over some of the characters. I loved the way the author wrote this book. It weaved recipes that these women cooked with the chapters. I found some of them interesting and others rather vile, especially the whale steak recipe. I found my stomach turning with that one. I learned a lot about food rationing that they did during the war.
I see that the author has another book she wrote between this one and her first one. I have added it to my Amazon Wish List and price stalk it like I normally do with books. Can’t wait to read that one as well.
STAR RATING: 5/5
Pick up your copy of The Kitchen Front by Jennifer Ryan on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and check your local bookstore. Also make sure to add it to your To Reads list on Goodreads and leave feedback for the author when you are finished. You can check out more from author Jennifer Ryan on her website HERE.