"The Kitchen Front," | Reviewed by Susan Ferguson
"The Kitchen Front" is a World War II story that focuses on four women who are competing in a cooking contest. These four spirited, resourceful women are each determined to win the contest and improve their lives.
Britain is suffering, U boats have cut off food supplies, the Blitz has destroyed the cities and everyone is required to ration. In order to boost morale and distract people from the worries of the war, the BBC hosts a daily cooking show on the radio. The show provides listeners with creative, nutritious and tasty meals using wartime rations and locally grown produce.
The prize for winning the cooking contest is a job as the first female co-host on the radio program, "The Kitchen Front." All four of these women need to win the contest.
Audrey Landon is a young widow with three boys; she is trying to keep a roof over their heads and pay off her debts. Currently she bakes pies and cakes for income. In order to help provide her with needed ingredients and flavors, she raises bees and has a garden and orchard.
Nell is a kitchen maid who grew up in an orphanage. She currently works for Lord Strickland. Nell, with the support of the head cook, Mrs. Quince, enters the contest in hopes of escaping her servitude and gaining a new found freedom.
Lady Gwendoline Strickland needs to win the contest in order to satisfy her violent, controlling and wealthy husband. She also is the sister of Audrey Landon. Lady and Lord Strickland are not above cheating to win the contest.
Zelda Dupont is a professional chef. When the London restaurant where she worked was bombed Zelda is sent to work at the Finley Pie Factory 15 miles south of London. The pie factory is owned by Lord Strickland. Zelda is pregnant and not married. She hopes to win the contest so that she can return to London as lead chef.
When circumstances bring the four women together, they soon learn that they are better together than they are apart. They become friends. Readers will enjoy watching the four women grow and are sure to root for each of them. Although there can only be one winner, they all become winners in the end.
Although this is a World War II story, the book is more about cooking and the role women played in the war. Being someone who enjoys cooking, I loved "The Kitchen Front" and found the ending very satisfying. The characters are realistic and the numerous recipes provided throughout the book make this a bonus read.