Thursday, April 14, 2011 Posted by Dina N
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.
The Kitchen Daughter is a delightful debut novel about a young woman who refuses to be labeled as "not normal" after the death of her parents. Ginny has lead a sheltered life until a tragic accident leaves her alone in her parents' large house - a home that her sister is set on selling. Ginny has a passion for cooking, and by preparing an old recipe of her grandmother's, she discovers that she can summon dead people's ghosts to her kitchen. She stumbles upon a few skeletons in her family's closet and finds a way to be at peace - but not until she's cooked a few more old recipes.
The Kitchen Daughter is a refreshing look at what we consider normal, at love and loss, at family ties and at the bonds of sisterhood and friendship. Jael McHenry cooks up such a wonderfully delectable and bittersweet first novel that I cannot wait for seconds.
The Kitchen Daughter was released this week by Gallery Books, a division of Simon & Schuster.
Disclaimer / Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of the book with no obligation for a positive review. No compensation - monetary or in kind - has been obtained for this post. Cover art and book description courtesy of the author, publisher or PR firm.