Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Kitchen Daughter by Jael McHenry

After the unexpected death of her parents, painfully shy and sheltered 26-year-old Ginny Selvaggio seeks comfort in cooking from family recipes. But the rich, peppery scent of her Nonna’s soup draws an unexpected visitor into the kitchen: the ghost of Nonna herself, dead for twenty years, who appears with a cryptic warning (“do no let her…”) before vanishing like steam from a cooling dish. 

A haunted kitchen isn’t Ginny’s only challenge. Her domineering sister, Amanda, (aka “Demanda”) insists on selling their parents’ house, the only home Ginny has ever known. As she packs up her parents’ belongings, Ginny finds evidence of family secrets she isn’t sure how to unravel. She knows how to turn milk into cheese and cream into butter, but she doesn’t know why her mother hid a letter in the bedroom chimney, or the identity of the woman in her father’s photographs. The more she learns, the more she realizes the keys to these riddles lie with the dead, and there’s only one way to get answers: cook from dead people’s recipes, raise their ghosts, and ask them. ~~ synopsis from Goodreads

I might as well get it out of the way right now - I love this cover! I am such a sucker for a beautiful cover. Publishers must know that a lot of us are drawn first to a book by it's cover.

And then, I did also love this book. My heart broke for Ginny, who's parents had just died, both of them at once. She has lived a somewhat sheltered life, living with them and being taken care by them, and now that protected life is gone. Her caring sister wants and expects Ginny to change her way of life but that is not an easy thing for Ginny to think about. She does not want to move and make changes.

I love the fact that Ginny can make deceased people appear in her kitchen by cooking their recipes and that these people help her figure things out. Wouldn't that be awesome to be able to talk with people in our lives that have passed on so that we can have a better understanding of the past and then hopefully be able to understand the present better?

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and loved the characters. The story kept a fast enough pace to keep me interested and had enough twists and turns so that I really didn't know how things were going to turn out. And.... the book contains some very interesting recipes that I just may have to try out.

I am thinking this might be a book that I suggest to my book group to read. It is a beautiful book and there would be a lot of issues to discuss. Jael McHenry is an author that I will add to my list of 'must-read' authors and I will be anxiously waiting for her next novel.

Author's website - 

Ms. McHenry also writes a cooking blog - check it out.


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