Sunday, December 07, 2014

Review: The Little Christmas Kitchen by Jenny Oliver

One of my favorite holiday books last year was Jenny Oliver's Parisian Christmas Bake-off, so I was very excited to read this book.  This did not disappoint.  Another to add to my holiday favorites.

While I didn't like it quite as much as Parisian Bake-off, I still liked it a lot.

Ella has just learned her husband is cheating on her, so without giving much thought to her actions, she packs a bag and takes off to Greece to stay with her mother and sister - even though she's not been especially close to them since her parents' divorce when she was a teenager.

Her sister, Maddy, in the meantime, has dreams of going to London and singing in a club.  Ella offers her the use of her flat, since she won't be there.  So we have the two story lines - Ella, working at her mother's cafe in Greece while Maddy is wandering around London on her own for the first time in her life.

What I enjoy most about this story is the complex characters.  While the characters may at times perceive some of the others to be all good or bad, it's clear to the reader that isn't the case.  While Ella and Maddy are both adults, they've spent years harboring some child like anger toward their parents.  They had their reasons, but being in a new location allows both of them begin to see things from a different perspective. 

This book is all about finally accepting the past and yourself and your flaws as well as the flaws of the people you love.  That sounds kind of hokey, but it's actually really well written and the result is a fun story that has a very powerful underlying meaning to it.  

My only issue with the book (possible spoiler, if you're worried I might be giving something away, skip to the next paragraph) was the idea that Ella would prefer life in Greece to life in London.  I thought her life in London seemed pretty great.  I also have to admit to kind of hoping she would get back together with her husband - despite what he did, he seemed to still love her and she him.  I guess I just wasn't all that impressed with the romance in the story.  I think what I would have preferred to happen would be Ella saying maybe she needed a break from relationships for a while since she just got out of a marriage, and maybe taking some time to figure out who she was and what she wanted without a guy influencing her decisions.  

Overall though, I really liked this book.  While I was reading it, I noticed it was free on amazon for a few days and I tried to get everyone I know to download it.  And really, whatever the current price is, usually just two or three dollars, is completely worth it.  Very good holiday read.  Nice, fun story with a good message about family and self perception.  

I received a review copy of this via NetGalley.

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