The Kitchen Front

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Modern Age

The Kitchen Front
Author: Ryan, Jennifer
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Time Period: Modern Age
Time Frame: 1942
Geographic Area: Europe
Country: Great Britain
Topics: WWII
Genre: Fiction
Reading Age: Adult
Format: Novel
Published: 2022

World History > Modern Age > WWII

From the bestselling author of The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir comes an unforgettable novel of a BBC-sponsored wartime cooking competition and the four women who enter for a chance to better their lives.

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY GOOD HOUSEKEEPING • “This story had me so hooked, I literally couldn’t put it down.”—NPR

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 holding 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 competition would present a crucial chance to change their lives.

For a young widow, it’s a chance to pay off her husband’s debts and keep a roof over her children’s heads. For a kitchen maid, it’s a chance to leave servitude and find freedom. For a 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 only serve to break it apart?

Emily's Review

Sometimes, you just need a feel-good, heartwarming story to read. The Kitchen Front hit all the right notes for me - sisters, female friendships, cooking, I mean, what's not to love?

The setup of this novel is that four women are competing in a cooking contest in England two years into World War II. The prize is a job as co-host of a popular radio show - The Kitchen Front. At first, each woman is in it for themselves - they all have something to prove. Audrey is desperately trying to make ends meet after her husband is killed in the war. She runs a baking business that is just barely keeping her family afloat. Her sister Gwendoline is a lady of the manor who wants to prove both to herself and to her increasingly hostile husband that she's more than just the lady of the manor. Zelda is a trained chef trying to prove herself in a man's field. Nell is a shy kitchen maid who longs for freedom from a life of servitude. For these four women, winning this contest could change their life.

This book was delightful. I love stories that are set during a war but focus on the lives of ordinary people just trying to survive. I loved that the author included recipes for all the meals discussed in the book. It makes me want to try to recreate some of them! The author clearly put a lot of research into the ins and outs of rationing and cooking in this time period.

But where this book truly shines is the relationships between the four women and how they grow to be friends. In a time of great hardship, these four women come together and support each other in such beautiful ways. The writing was captivating - I had a hard time putting this book down.

If you are looking for a story with a lot of heart and some delicious recipes to try, this is the book for you!

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