A Novel of Victorian Cookery and Friendship
by Annabel Abbs
Miss Eliza’s English Kitchen is an historical novel based on the life of Eliza Acton. Eliza was a poet whose family fell on very hard times. When a publisher, who did not want to publish her poems, offered to pay her to write a cookbook, she at first refused. Luckily for cooks and readers, Eliza changed her mind. She goes on to find poetry in her cooking and cookery writing.
The second important character in the story is Ann. Ann’s incredibly difficult life is portrayed vividly and readers will feel for her bleak home life. It is transformative for Ann to begin to work for “Miss Eliza.”
Life for Eliza and her mother involves taking in short term boarders. Readers will meet one particularly lascivious and loathsome one. He is an early guest at the house. His presence also impacts Ann.
Throughout the story, Eliza and Ann work together to create recipes that are different from those that came before. For example, they used accurate measurements.
Eliza and Ann become very close. What will the nature of their relationship be as it evolves?
I found this book to be somewhat slow moving and yet it was interesting. It described a time, place, way of life and the people who lived it.
Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher. All opinions are my own.
Note that there is an article in the December U.S. issue of Good Housekeeping that references this title. The book was also chosen for a morning tv show’s book club.
“A fascinating, long overdue tribute to the unconventional Eliza Acton, the woman who revolutionized the English cookbook. Ann’s and Eliza’s drives for independence is inspiring, and their passion for cooking will awaken readers’ inner chef.” — Library Journal (starred review)