The Kitchen Front

The Kitchen Front

A Novel

Book - 2021
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"From the bestselling author of The Chilbury Ladies' Choir comes a new World War II-set story of four women on the home front competing for a spot hosting a BBC wartime cookery program and a chance to better their lives. Two years into World War II, 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 aroof 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--even 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?"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York, New York : Ballantine Books, ©2021.
ISBN: 9780593158807
Characteristics: 406 pages ;,25 cm.


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Apr 05, 2021

Ryan seems to have found her niche with World War II historical fiction. In this outing, the author explores the trials and tribulations of food rationing in Britain. The four main characters, Audrey, Gwendoline, Nell, and Zelda represent some aspect of the full-time work of feeding families during a time of food shortages. When circumstances force all four women together, the reader learns that appearances can be very deceiving. The ending restores one's faith in human kindness. The recipes, recreated with modern ingredients, don't sound very appealing to my American palate.

KHaney Mar 30, 2021

If like me, you have been calming your pandemic nerves by watching season after season of The Great British Baking show, then this is the book for you! Just loved this look at Britain and food rationing in the middle of World War II, with four very different women vying to win a cooking contest.

Mar 11, 2021

I truly enjoyed this novel, and didn't want it to end. The Kitchen Front is a heartwarming story of friends and sisters during World War II in a small British town near London. It focuses on the encouragement these women receive from each other as they each deal with the challenges of their lives. I appreciated how author Jennifer Ryan wove the plot strands of each of the four women into a connected story, centering on a cooking competition that they all enter. First as competitors, then as comrades, although each woman came from a different strata of society, the women are able to solve their problems and create a future as a team.

The novel was well-researched and realistic, describing the restrictions of food rationing, blackout requirements and bombing fears, as well as the limitations of women's options during the 1940s. Ryan included many authentic recipes of the period, which were all devised using rationed ingredients. But what makes this novel so special is the way the reader becomes invested in the individual women and their hopes, fears, and drives to survive their dire situations. I highly recommend this book!

Feb 23, 2021

The BBC radio program The Kitchen Front was a staple during WWII. Of course, it was hosted by a man who had never cooked anything in his life. In Fenley Village, readers get to look at the local women cope with shortages and feed their families. When its finally decided that a female host as well as the male host, a local contest is created to find that voice. Readers enter the lives of the four contestants. First there is Mrs. Audrey Landon, a recent widow, who makes ends meet by selling her baked goods. The most regal of the contestants is Lady Gwendoline Stricklnand and is used to having kitchen staff. But adding to the competition is Lady Gwendoline’s cook and Mrs. Quince’s assistant, Nell Brown. And then there’s contestant number four who brings a background of training at Cordon-Bleu and has been a chef at a famous London hotel. Recipes are included for cooking in 1942.

Feb 12, 2021

The cooking contest and the authentic recipes tipped the scales in favor of five stars for me on this one. Although there are other home front issues, the need to feed your family good food in adequate amounts is the main focus. I loved reading about Audrey's garden and the way she talked to her bees. Also, her three boys were a delight and reminded me of my three. Gwendoline is an acquired taste, but does improve throughout. Zelda and Nell also have strong story lines of their own and their memories of past neglect clearly impact them as grown women. That gives a book group much to think about. It would be fun to try some of the recipes, although the whale meat pie would not be at the top of my list. Sounds a little stinky -- the sardine pastries as well.

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