Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Glass Kitchen by Linda Francis Lee

Food not only nourishes the body, but sometimes the soul. We all have our "comfort food" food that we eat when we're down. I eat have "study food", food that I eat when I study (in order to concentrate). So what if, someone had the 'knowing' of which foods to give people?

That is the premise of The Glass Kitchen. Portia Cuthcart has had the knowing ever since she was a little girl. Like her grandmother, she gets urges to make foods, foods that people need even before she meets them. But when she gets married, she suppresses the knowing in an attempt to live a normal life. Unfortunately, her marriage breaks down and she moves to New York. And then the novel starts.

When Portia moves into her grandaunt's old home, she meets her neighbour Gabriel and his daughter Ariel (he also has another daughter called Miranda, but she's not that important in the story). Sparks fly between the two, but will they ever get together?

I adored this book. It's very well-written and I couldn't put it down. I loved how Portia's relationship with her sisters were written. It can be summed up in this quote:

Long ago their mother had made her daughters promise that no matter where they were or how angry they were at each other at the time, if one of them needed the other, they would be there. No questions asked.

That means Portia and her sisters are estranged and they aren't overly close and permanently happy. This bit of realism in terms of relationships makes the magical realism of the knowing even more magical for me.

Alongside Portia's point of view, the other character to get a narrative voice would be Ariel. At first, I didn't really see the point of Ariel's narration because I was so fixated on Portia's sections (and, I thought she was a bit annoying). But as the story progressed and the secondary plot involving Ariel's family began to unravel, I began to appreciate her narrative voice more, and by the end of the story, I liked Ariel as a character.

There are two multiple plot lines in this story. The first focuses on Portia as she tries to get back on her feet after her divorce. The second would be Portia and Gabriel. The third would be Ariel and her family. And then there are the minor, barely mentioned plots, involving Portia's sisters. I would have liked for everything to be fully developed, but then we'd have a behemoth of a novel. Concentrating on the first three plot lines (that slowly merged) made for a complex story.

While I wouldn't recommend this book to young teenagers and under because of mature themes (the relationship between Gabriel and Portia veers on the explicit at times), I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a well-written magical realism book.

Disclaimer: I got a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review.

If you want to read another review of this book before making up your mind, check out the review by Turning The Pages! It was actually her review that got me to request this book :D 

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