Monday, June 16, 2014

Review: The Glass Kitchen by Linda Francis Lee

Title:  The Glass Kitchen
Author: Linda Francis Lee
Publisher:  Published June 17 2014 by St. Martin's Press
ASIN: 9780312382278
Pages: 384 pages
How I Read It: eARC
Genre: women's fiction, magical realism
Find it at Goodreads

With The Glass Kitchen, Linda Francis Lee has served up a novel that is about the courage it takes to follow your heart and be yourself. A true recipe for life.

Portia Cuthcart never intended to leave Texas. Her dream was to run the Glass Kitchen restaurant her grandmother built decades ago. But after a string of betrayals and the loss of her legacy, Portia is determined to start a new life with her sisters in Manhattan . . . and never cook again. But when she moves into a dilapidated brownstone on the Upper West Side, she meets twelve-year-old Ariel and her widowed father Gabriel, a man with his hands full trying to raise two daughters on his own. Soon, a promise made to her sisters forces Portia back into a world of magical food and swirling emotions, where she must confront everything she has been running from. What seems so simple on the surface is anything but when long-held secrets are revealed, rivalries exposed, and the promise of new love stirs to life like chocolate mixing with cream.

The Glass Kitchen is a delicious novel, a tempestuous story of a woman washed up on the shores of Manhattan who discovers that a kitchen—like an island—can be a refuge, if only she has the courage to give in to the pull of love, the power of forgiveness, and accept the complications of what it means to be family.

Our Thoughts:

Looking for a great summer beach read? Or perhaps a winter couch read for our Southern Hemisphere friends? Well then, have we got the book for you!

First off, just look at that book cover. Isn’t it gorgeous and inviting? Of course we know the old adage, but honestly, who could resist that beautiful image? Not us, obviously! Having never read a book by this author, we were thrilled when the book itself turned out to be every bit as lovely as the cover. Don’t you just love it when that happens?

The Glass Kitchen is a delectable morsel of a book about food, family, and second chances, with plenty of humor and a pinch of magic, all incorporated in the most delightful way. While seemingly a ‘light and fluffy’ chick lit type of read, this tale also subtly explores more substantial themes, such as family dynamics (siblings as well as fathers and mothers), loss of a parent, starting over, and learning to believe in and trust yourself and those you love.

“Some things are true whether you believe them or not.”

We were charmed by both Portia and Ariel, whose points of view alternate throughout the novel, as each endeavors to regain her footing following traumatic life events. Feisty Texas native Portia tries to deny her true self to please her husband, but after that fails miserably, she ends up divorced and flees to New York to start over. There, with the support of her sisters, she faces her fears, rediscovers herself, and begins a new life.

“Portia had loved New York when she was younger, but in a way that was so different from what she felt for Texas, with its giant blue sky and easygoing charm, like sweet tea over ice on a hot day. In New York, nothing was easy; everything was dense, nothing fluffy about it, like bagels slathered with thick cream cheese.”

As she works to re-establish her own life, Portia also befriends and helps young Ariel, who is struggling to cope with the loss of her mother and the changes to her family as a result of that loss. Ariel is smart and precocious, but ‘almost entirely certain she [is] disappearing’. She completely won our hearts with her spunky-yet-vulnerable demeanor. The author does a wonderful job of capturing this preteen girl’s ‘voice’ as well as illustrating the way children sometimes feel it their responsibility to shoulder much more than they should.

The remaining characters, while not fleshed out quite as fully as these two leads, are still engaging and individual, and provide a strong and varied supporting cast. The romance is tastefully done and kept us turning the pages, rooting for Portia and Gabriel to find their happily ever after, as they dealt with ups and downs and secrets revealed.

“Sometimes we have to be brave in order to dig deep and find answers. Even if we’re not sure we’re going to like the answers.”

Throughout the book, food takes center stage, not only with mouth-watering descriptions, but also demonstrations of the power of food to comfort, convey emotion, evoke memories, bring us together, heal our ills and soothe our souls. Consider yourself warned, if you aren’t hungry when you start reading this book, you will be before it’s over! As an added bonus, there are recipes for a few of the featured menu items included in the back of the book…Nice!

The Glass Kitchen was known to heal people with its slow-cooked meals and layered confections, and it healed Portia, too. Gradually, like sugar brought to a slow boil, Portia began to ease out of a brittle state and find a place for herself ....

This book is not a literary masterpiece that will change the world, but it might just change your attitude as it brightens your day, puts a smile on your face and warms your heart; and that, in our opinion, is a worthy achievement in its own right. Perfect for anyone who loves food, a bit of magic, and the power of family, be it the one you are born with or the 'big, messy mix' you create for yourself; pull up a table at The Glass Kitchen the next time you're craving a lighthearted yet rewarding read. We think you'll be glad you did.

Our Rating:

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the review! I actually got this one on audio book but haven't gotten to it yet. 😊