Friday, 28 November 2014

The Little Christmas Kitchen by Jenny Oliver

"Christmas at the Davenports’ house was always about one thing: food!

But when sisters Ella and Maddy were split up, Ella to live in London with their Dad, and Maddy staying in Greece with their Mum, mince pies lost their magic.

Now, a cheating husband has thrown Ella a curved snowball…and for the first time in years, all she wants is her mum. So she heads back to Greece, where her family’s taverna holds all the promise of home. Meanwhile, waitress Maddy’s dreams of a white Christmas lead her back to London…and her Dad.

But a big fat festive life-swap isn’t as easy as it sounds! And as the sisters trade one kitchen for another, it suddenly seems that among the cinnamon, cranberries and icing sugar, their recipes for a perfect Christmas might be missing a crucial ingredient: each other."

The Little Christmas Kitchen reminded me a little of The Holiday as Ella and Maddy essentially swap homes for the Christmas season, and also of Mamma Mia with the Greek location and all the food.  Ella thinks just has discovered that her perfect husband is cheating on her and wants her mum, and Maddy is dreaming of "Making It" in London.  The book alternates between the two sisters in their different locations.

Ella and Maddy used to be close when they were little but something went wrong when their parents split up, and since then there has been this competing sibling rivalry where they each think the other has got something they haven't and that somehow they have been missing out.  I liked seeing this from a dual perspective of both sisters, and as the reader you get to see that actually if they just talked to each other then there really would not be anything to be jealous of.

To be honest, I found Ella coped with her marriage breakdown a little too well.  She didn't really seem to care, especially around the middle of the book when she is on the phone to him, and having got to know Ella, I think she would have cared more.  Even if she felt it was the right thing overall, in reality a person would be more upset about it and I don't think they would be able to joke with each other about him sleeping and living with another woman as they do at one point in the book.

This is not a book you should read when you are hungry as it is packed full of mouthwatering descriptions of all kinds of food.  It might not be the traditional Christmas food you enjoy, but the book certainly is festive (unlike some other books set over the Christmas period, but it could easily be enjoyed at other times of year). I particularly enjoyed Maddy's time in London as she finds herself in a new place, and helps others along the way.

The Little Christmas Kitchen is a story of families and friendship, neighbourliness, growing into yourself and learning to love yourself.  For me it was a slow burner, and it took me a while to get into it, but ultimately, it made me laugh out loud and it made my eyes well up with tears.  It would make a fabulous festive film with the backdrops of scenery from two incredible locations; Greece and London at Christmas time in the snow.  

I felt that the book ended too soon, in that it felt a bit rushed and I also wanted more.  I'd love to revisit this family again in the future and see how they are all getting on, and it was definitely the kind of story that could be revisited by the author in a future book or novella!

It is a shame this book is an e-book as the cover is beautiful!

** Thank you to NetGalley for the free e-copy of this title in return for my honest review **

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