Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Georgia's Kitchen a Feast For Foodies, Not So Much For Me

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Georgia Grey's perfect life includes three things: a sexy husband, a gurgling baby and her own restaurant. Not necessarily in that order. She's worked hard to reach her life goals, but somehow, she's achieved exactly none of them. True, she's the head chef at a swanky New York restaurant. She's also got a rock the size of the Big Apple weighing down her finger. By the time she hits 34 in a few short months, she should be well on her way to the bright, happy future she's always envisioned for herself. For now, she can deal with both her jerky boss and her distracted fiancee. As soon as the stress of the wedding is behind her, Georgia knows she'll be blissfully happy.

Then, a nasty review from a vindictive food critic hits the newsstands. Not only is Georgia fired from her job, but no restaurant in New York is willing to take a chance on her. Neither, apparently, is her fiancee. He's the one with the shocking secret - she's the one selling her Monique Lhuillier wedding dress on eBay. She's also the one looking for a new start, and finding it in Tuscany, where she plans to help her mentor open a new trattoria. As the only American among a very Italian staff, Georgia's more than a little intimidated. It literally takes blood, sweat and tears to make it in her new home, but when she's offered a lucrative position at an up-and-coming hotel restaurant, Georgia knows she's impressed her harshest critics. As if that isn't incentive enough to keep her in Italy forever, taking the new job means working in very close proximity to the irresistible Gianni.

Georgia should be jumping at the chance to stay in Italy doing the things she loves - namely, cooking and enjoying Gianni's attention - but making a commitment means putting off her dream of owning her own restaurant. Very little remains for her in New York while everything awaits her in Italy. Does she have the courage to take a chance on Italy? Or will the comfort of familiarity lure her back home? As Georgia licks her wounds, she'll be forced to make the decision of a lifetime: should she stay or should she go?

Georgia's Kitchen, a debut novel by Jenny Nelson, tells a woman-going-abroad-to-find-herself story that will be familiar to frequent readers of women's fiction. Anyone who's worked in the restaurant industry will appreciate the insider's view Nelson offers us - it's a quick-paced, exciting world that the author definitely brings to vivid life. With its tantalizing descriptions of succulent Italian dishes, the book's a feast for foodies. Unfortunately, my familiarity with Italian cuisine begins and ends with the menu at Olive Garden, so I found all the detail a bit tedious. Likewise with the incessant discussion of fashion, since unlike the cooking info, it had little to do with the story. As for the tale itself, it moved at a pretty good clip through the beginning, sagged in the middle, and became annoyingly predictable in the end. While I enjoy a good underdog-makes-good story as much as the next girl, this one just didn't resound much with me. I found it, as the Italians would say (at least that's what Google tells me they would say), only così e così (so-so).

(Readalikes: With all the talk of food and fashion, it reminded me a little of Adriana Trigiani's books.)

Grade: C

If this were a movie, it would be rated: R for language and sexual content

To the FTC, with love: I received a finished copy of Georgia's Kitchen from BookSparks PR in exchange for writing an honest review of the book.

1 comment:

  1. Hmm, sounds like an all-too-familiar storyline among fiction and non. With the Eat, Pray, Love movie coming out, I think I'll pass on this one for the moment.

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