This is the third book that I have read by Jennifer Ryan. I very much enjoyed her earlier novels, The Chilbury Ladies Choir and The Spies of Shilling Lane. Ms.Ryan has found her authorial voice writing fiction about women and WWII. The Kitchen Front, also set during WWII, is a book that I highly recommend.
As the novel begins, the men are mostly away or involved in war work, while women try their best to manage both on the home front and in the kitchen. Food is scarce and rationing pervasive. There is a campaign to make creative, practical recipes using what is at hand.
In this story, food concerns lead to a cooking contest in a small village. The winner will be given co-hosting duties on a food related BBC radio show. The novel tells the story of four of the women who, through their recipes, try to win first prize. They are Audrey, a young widow with three children; Audrey’s sister, the snobby Lady Gwendoline; kitchen maid Nell and pregnant, unmarried, French trained chef, Zelda. Each of these characters comes to life with a backstory and relationships. I very much enjoyed spending time with each of them and also enjoyed the village setting. An added plus of this book is that each cook’s recipes are included, giving insight into what cooking was like in the 1940s.
I highly recommend this enjoyable novel. For Ms. Ryan, third time (for her historical novels) is definitely the charm!
Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this title. All opinions are my own.