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The Kitchen Front by Jennifer Ryan Book Review

Reasons For Reading This Book

I read this book as I am apart of the podcast book club The ReadHeads. The Kitchen Front by Jennifer Ryan was the book of the month for November 2021. I knew very little about the book going into it other than it was set during the war. I am usually not a fan of books from this genre, but was open to the idea of liking it as it was centered around cooking and a contest compared to battles and violence. I went into this book with an open mind. 

Content of the Book

The Kitchen Front by Jennifer Ryan follows the lives of four contestants in a cooking competition. The purpose of the competition is to use food war rations to show how creative one can be with making delicious and nutritious food. It's two years into the war and there is no sight of it ending so there is still a need for how to be creative with food rations. The winner of the competition becomes the female voice and co-star for the BBC's food radio show called The Kitchen Front. The novel follows the lives of Audrey, a widowed mother of three boys trying to survive by making a living selling pies, her sister Lady Gwendoline, who regularly gives food demonstrations for the Ministry of Food, Zelda, the head chef at the Fenley Pie Factory, and Nell the chef at Lady Gwendoline's house, Fenley Hall. The contest consists of three rounds, starter, main course, and dessert. During the course of the contest the women face personal, financial, and professional challenges. What lengths are these women willing to go to win the position on The Kitchen Front.


Sister rivalry, career versus family, forbidden love, girl power, survival is sticking together, "United we stand, united we fall."

What I Liked About This Book

The organization of the chapters in this book was spot on. I agree with the author's choice to have each character narrate each of their chapters. I loved how the novel was divided into three sections, one for each phase of the competition. Having chapters dedicated to each character allowed for character development and understanding for how and why the made what they did for each stage of the competition. I absolutely loved the addition of the recipes at the end of the chapters in which it was made or discussed. This added an element to the novel that makes it unique and unforgettable. A complaint that I have had about novels in the past is that I find the characters to be unrelatable which causes me to loose interest in their story lines. Even though I did not completely relate to one of these characters I found something I could relate to in each of them. Having this connection made these characters personable and realistic. The novel progressed steadily from start to finish. I think this can be due to two things. The book took place over a short period of time, and two their were four characters that you were reading about so there was always something interesting to read about at any point in the novel. I loved the descriptions in this novel. Jennifer's descriptions were vivid to the point that I could see, taste, and smell all the delicious food prepared by these talented women. I also loved the themes of this novel. As stated at the beginning of this blog post their are many different themes in this novel. One that stood out to me was "United we stand, united we fall." To me this represents that who novel. It represents the women and the current situation with the war. 

What I Disliked About This Book

Because I understood the message and purpose of the novel, I felt like there was just enough action in this novel set during the war. I would say that if you are looking for a true World War ll novel with action, this is not the book you would want to read. A complaint that some looking for a non-fiction World War ll novel might have about this book is that it focuses little on the war on more on girl power and the relationship between the women. I can see how some people would say it does not fit the historical non-fiction genre. A complaint that some of the hosts from the podcast had is that the author chose to spend more time talking about certain what seemed to be less exciting plot points compared the time spent on more riveting plot points.

Would I Recommend This Book?

Without a doubt I would recommend this book. I rated it 4 stars. Because I understood the message and purpose of the novel, I felt like there was just enough action in this novel set during the war. I would say that if you are looking for a true World War ll novel with action, this is not the book you would want to read. The message of girl power and women fighting for what they want is so strong in this book that I think anyone looking for a novel with that theme should read it.

Check out my book reviews for 2021!!

Check out my book reviews for 2020!!

Check out my book reviews for 2019!!


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