The Kitchen Front – Jennifer Ryan

I have read many books which are based around the Second World War and it is always nice to get a different perspective, a different aspect to telling a well versed period of history.

Jennifer Ryan certainly does it with this book and uses the war at home, the food shortages, rationing and cooking to create this wonderful story.

The BBC programme The Kitchen Front needs to relate more to its female audience and so decides to hold a competition for a new presenter. Enter four ladies from Fenley Village.

First is Lady Gwendoline, she knows her status within the village, as being married to the prominent factory owner puts her above everyone else. In here eyes anyway. If she could win, then she would go up in everyone’s expectations, especially her husbands.

Audrey, widow with three young boys is Gwendoline’s sister. And looked upon as the poorer of the two. Devastated by her husband’s death and struggling to keep a roof above her families head, she will do anything to make the extra pennies to survive.

Nell is the kitchen maid for Gwendoline and along with the cook Mrs Quince, well known already in the area for what she can create. Nell is wanting to break free and leave the life of service behind and be her own women. Whilst she has the encouragement from Mrs Quince, can she do something as scary as cook for a competition and potentially win? Confidence is all she needs and it can come from the most unexpected places.

Zelda has bucket loads of confidence, as a chef very much in a mans world and determined to be recognised in her own right. Zelda sees this as a way to further her career. Except war work has taken her to the factory owned by Gwendoline’s husband and her condition means she is about to stand out from the crowd for all the wrong reasons.

All these women are thrown together in the competition and outside of that as well. There ingenuity to create something out of nothing or something out of foul ingredients shows the pluck and determination that the home front employed during rationing. The strength of friendship and adversity means that by the end of the book, all of their lives have changed.

Cooking and a common goal and purpose may have brought these four unlikely women together, but it was love, respect and their strength of belief and friendship which will keep them together long after you have finished reading the book.

An excellent book, covering the home front and full of recipes for dried egg powder, whale meat and tins of spam! Not sure I would want to recreate some of them, but they are all brought to life within the pages of the book.

Thank you to the publisher for the opportunity via netgalley to read this book. Unfortunately I was too late to download my copy but I was interested, so I purchased my own copy and devoured it. Jennifer Ryan’s writing is wonderful and I look forward to reading more.

The Kitchen Front is out now.


Expectation – Anna Hope

In what I feel is a enormous change of direction from this author, my expectation was that this book was not going to work. Her previous two novels very much set in the historical fiction genre – this one, modern fiction. Was it going to work?

My fear was it was not –  they were unfounded and I found this a very interesting and engaging novel and at times quite uncomfortable reading.

Hannah, Cate and Lissa are friends, we see the story weave between present day and their lives now and the past where you begin to understand the past behind the present.

Brought together through different means but living a world where you have little or no responsibility, to be able to fight a cause with passion and to live the world you want to live.

Then life changes, the friendships between them change as they all deal with what is in front of them.

Hannah – married, desperate for a baby and despondent by the fact that nothing has worked. The strain is starting to show in her marriage, especially when her friend Cate has a baby.

Cate is struggling with being a mother, stuck in Kent away from her friends and dealing with a child that she thinks she can never protect enough.

Lissa, a failed actress still trying to make it in a world where she still seeks approval from her mother who clearly made the wrong sort of impact on Lissa as a child. Still single, she envies those in stable relationships.

None of these women’s expectations for being an adult resemble everything they talked and dreamed about.

Can their friendship survive such changes both small and large and can your expectations ever really be met.

I was captivated by this book as I could not see where it was going and what it was trying to do or achieve but I felt this was the intent of the author. No one can see where we are all going or where we might end up as expectations change as the world and people change around us.

A novel to read that brings great discussion about the friendships and dynamics of such in your own lives. When you have finished the book, give yourself time to digest and reflect you may well start to look at things differently and expect something else.

Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this book. 

Expectation is published on 11 July 2019.

If you are intrigued by Anna Hope’s previous novels then do check them out.


Wake is a word that conjures up different meanings and images.

The wake held after the funeral of a loved one.

Wake when you emerge from sleep

In the wake of what has happened.

In fact in Anna Hope’s debut novel, all three of these meanings have been woven into a moving  story which will stay with you long after you have finished it. In fact the tomb of the unknown soldier and the cenotaph are there as permanent reminders.

The Ballroom

John comes from Ireland. He had a past which he has lost and he has ended up far from home.

Ella had thrown something through a window. Her actions mean she has ended up away from home.

Charles wanted to prove himself, wants to make an improvement in people’s lives through music.

All three are captured in the heat wave of 1911.

They are in an asylum on the edge of the Yorkshire Moors.

Their paths cross in different ways.

John is a threat to Charles.

Charles thinks that Ella can eventually leave

John and Ella normally segregated are brought together in the Ballroom.