Wednesday, July 9, 2014
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. -- St. Martin's Press
I just love, love, love the cover of THE GLASS KITCHEN by Linda Francis Lee! I don't want to say it's the main reason I read this novel, but I admit it did play a part. It's just so pretty. I am happy to tell you that I also enjoyed the actual book itself. It was a sweet read and one that's perfect for the summer!
THE GLASS KITCHEN tells the story of Portia Cuthcart, a lifelong Texas girl who married a politician. Unfortunately for Portia, her marriage didn't work out and she decides to start a new life in Manhattan of all place. Just a little different than Texas, no? Portia wants to push aside more than just her ex-husband, she also wants to forget about her her unique (and magical) gift with food and cooking.
Portia moves into her aunt's rundown brownstone on the Upper West Side and meets a single dad Gabriel and his two daughters. Her sisters have already sold their rights to the house to Gabriel, but Portia is holding out. She does, however, agree to cook meals for the family to make ends meet... until she can start her own cafe called The Glass Kitchen.
As Portia becomes more involved with Gabriel and his daughters, she discovers that her "gift" is more special than she ever realized. And Portia just might be able to use it to find true happiness.
I thought THE GLASS KITCHEN was delightful and fans of foodie fiction are going to really appreciate it. I even enjoyed the magical realism aspect of the story (often times, I do not), and Ms. Lee did a great job of making it "believable" for me. In addition, her descriptions of food were wonderful and she even included some yummy recipes in the back of the book.
One of my favorite parts of THE GLASS KITCHEN was the character of Portia. In novels like this one, it's important for me to really like the main character and have her emotions resonate with me. Initially, I felt bad for Portia (her husband was a real bugger) and then I got a little irked with her for trying to toss aside her gift. But eventually, she came around and became a little more grounded -- just about the same time she started working with food again! And then, there was the whole chemistry thingie with Gabriel. Let's just put it this way... it was hot!
Another thing I liked about this novel was how the story unfolded. There were a few secrets in the story that captured my interest and I really liked how they were revealed. I don't want to say that these were huge surprises or that I was totally shocked, but they were satisfying in how they came to light.
For book clubs looking for something lighter, THE GLASS KITCHEN might be a good selection. That's not to say that there aren't some real themes in this novel that are discussion-worthy though. There is a reading guide available with ten questions that touch upon some of these topics. Your group might want to discuss include how food prep relates to real life, parent child relationships, sibling relationships, love, loss, secrets, and truths.
At its heart, THE GLASS KITCHEN is a story about love and second chances. It's extremely sweet (just like some of the food that Portia prepares) and is guaranteed to warm your heart (and maybe some other regions!)
Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.