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Thursday, February 17, 2022

A War Novel That's Heartwarming and Uplifting? Yes, Please!

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

As World War II rages on, life in the English countryside has been irrevocably changed. Threatening planes streak through the sky, devastating telegrams keep arriving on doorsteps, and home cooks scrabble to put together decent meals from the meager pickings they can forage from the forest and village. While residents strive to keep their chins up, it's getting more and more difficult by the day. 

Things perk up for four women when they learn a popular BBC radio program will be hosting a cooking contest in their area. The winner will be rewarded with a coveted spot as The Kitchen Front's first female co-host. Snagging first place will be life-changing. For Audrey Landon, a grieving war widow with three young sons, it would mean keeping a roof over her children's heads (however leaky it may be). Lady Gwendoline Strickland doesn't need the prize money, but she would love to laud a victory over her sister, who was always their mother's favorite. A young kitchen maid, Nell Brown dreams of being free from working for a family she despises. Zelda Dupont, a trained restaurant chef, craves the validation winning would give her in a competitive profession that's filled with condescending men. With each member of the quartet fiercely determined to come out on top, the contest quickly becomes a tense affair that some of them would do anything (even cheat) to win. Audrey, Gwendoline, Nell, and Zelda all have struggles and secrets the others don't know about. As their defenses are slowly chipped away and a fragile friendship forms between them, the contest starts to become something wholly different. Which one of them will emerge victorious? And how will the experience change all of their lives?

War books cannot usually be described as uplifting or heartwarming and, yet, that is exactly how I would characterize The Kitchen Front by Jennifer Ryan. The story also features heartache, sorrow, and struggle, but overall, it's about unity, friendship, and the power of a loving support network in helping one learn to stand on her own two feet. Audrey, Gwendoline, Nell, and Zelda are all likable characters, whose challenges make them sympathetic and relatable. Although their story has a predictable end, I didn't care a smidge. I enjoyed every word of this charming, empowering novel. Because it highlights recipes for delicacies like The Ministry of Food's Sheep's Head Roll and Zelda's Raised Spam and Game Pie, The Kitchen Front—unlike most novels I read that are centered around food—did not make me salivate. It did, however, give me new appreciation for WWII cooks who had to use their own resourcefulness and ingenuity just to turn their meager rations into something at all edible! 

(Readalikes: Reminds me of other books by Jennifer Ryan)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for brief, mild language (no F-bombs), violence, and mild sexual content

To the FTC, with love: I bought a copy of The Kitchen Front from Changing Hands Bookstore with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger. Ha ha.


  1. Sounds like a delightful read. Thanks for the review.

  2. I really liked this one. And I didn't care that it had a completely predictable ending either. It just made me smile. What a good read. :)

  3. This looks good. I love an uplifting book about a tragic time, it just makes me happy.

  4. Sounds like a fun read. I love cooking shows and contests, so this might be fun to experience one in a different format.

  5. I've seen this in several places and definitely want to read it. My kind of thing I think.

  6. This sounds delightful!

    And congratulations on making millions as a book blogger! lol

  7. This sounds absolutely wonderful. I like the idea of a different part of the war and that it is uplifting.

  8. The Chilbury Ladies Choir was one of my favorite books the year I read it. This sounds wonderful. I don't mind a predictable ending if I enjoy the book enough and that definitely sounds like case for this book.


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