Publisher and Publication Date: William Morrow Paperbacks. October 26, 2021.
Genre: Historical fiction.
Source: I received a complimentary e-book from NetGalley. I am not required to write a positive review.
Audience: Readers of historical fiction.
Rating: Good to very good.
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Victorian time period. 1837. England.
A heavy responsibility and burden falls on Eliza Acton. Her father has left the family and country to escape his debt. Her mother takes control and plans a marriage prospect for Eliza. Eliza wants to write poetry. And, she enjoys a new endeavor in learning to cook.
Ann Kirby is a young woman who is employed in the Acton home. Ann and Eliza create interesting dishes in the kitchen. They work together to create a cookery book.
Both women take turns being the narrator. I read the word “I” often. “I must”, “I stand”, “I loathe”, I want to be”, “I rise, and dress myself.” This is my least favorite form of writing in a story. I don’t like this point of view. Further, I don’t want to be told the minutiae details of the characters. Those two reasons are the only tidbits I dislike.
What I like about Miss Eliza’s English Kitchen:
1. I love cooking and baking. I love recipes and cookbooks.
2. I love the story taking on a different type of love: friendship. If you read other reviews I write, you will remember I enjoy reading about other types of relationships and not just romantic type love.
3. Eliza’s mother is selfish and annoying. She causes strong internal and external conflicts in the story. Eliza does not have a loving bond with her mother. Her mother is not a person she can depend on to have the best intentions for Eliza. Her mother is about her own life and their financial situation. Her mother is a person who waits for others “to do something for her.”
4. I love the plot. And I love the form or structure of the story that advances towards the plot’s conclusion.
5. Eliza and Ann are of different ages. They are from different socio-economic backgrounds. They are two people who shouldn’t be friends. Yet, a love of a common interest creates and bonds their precious friendship.
6. The story is mainly chronological. At the start of the story, there is a future date where the character remembers the past and how the events brought about the gift of today.
7. I love Eliza’s bold personality. She draws a line in the sand so to speak. She will tolerate only so much and then that’s it! She speaks plain. I love this in a personality.
8. I love Ann’s kind personality. She has a sad background with what has happened to her mother. In this era people who had a mental illness were not taken care of well. They were often abused. They were often cast aside and forgotten. Ann has not forgotten her mother. She does not understand all the details with her mother’s illness, but she loves her. Ann is kind. I wish there had been more about this in the storyline. I understand there is only so much room in a book for the whole of a story, but I think about the importance of this subject.
Themes in the story:
Friendship, cooking, perseverance, honesty, acceptance, kindness, sacrifice, hospitality, judgment, injustice, dreams, grief, charity, and tolerance.