Apr 9, 2014

Women's Fiction Wednesday - The Kitchen Daughter

This week's featured novel is The Kitchen Daughter by Jael McHenry. 

I can't remember if I heard the premise of the book first or saw the cover, but I remember knowing I would do anything to get my hands on this book. And, in a moment of rarity in my life, the library had it. I dove in with some decent expectations and found, within just pages, they had been met and exceeded. 

Synopsis from Goodreads: 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.

Ginny has Aspergers, something I didn't know going into the book, but I felt like it was shown in a way that is both cautious and honest. The situation with the home increases with tension knowing this fact, and then weaving in the ghosts that appear, the courage that Ginny manifests to call them, made her as a character even more endearing. The language is lush, descriptions of food left my mouth watering on more than one occasion, and the resolution brought me incredible satisfaction. It has been out for a few years, but if you haven't spent time with Ginny, I recommend you do so soon. 


JeffO said...

Sounds like a really interesting story!

David P. King said...

A haunted kitchen? I'm in! :)