With the glass kitchen,
Linda Francis Lee has served up a novel that is about the courage it takes to follow your heart and be yourself.
A true recipe for life.
Portia Cuthcart never intended to leave Texas. Her dream was to run the Glass Kitchen restaurant her grandmother built decades ago. But after a string of betrayals and the loss of her legacy, Portia is determined to start a new life with her sisters in Manhattan . . . and never cook again. But when she moves into a dilapidated brownstone on the Upper West Side, she meets twelve-year-old Ariel and her widowed father Gabriel, a man with his hands full trying to raise two daughters on his own. Soon, a promise made to her sisters forces Portia back into a world of magical food and swirling emotions, where she must confront everything she has been running from. What seems so simple on the surface is anything but when long-held secrets are revealed, rivalries exposed, and the promise of new love stirs to life like chocolate mixing with cream.
The Glass Kitchen is a delicious novel, a tempestuous story of a woman washed up on the shores of Manhattan who discovers that a kitchenlike an islandcan be a refuge, if only she has the courage to give in to the pull of love, the power of forgiveness, and accept the complications of what it means to be family.
|Publisher:||St. Martin's Press|
|Edition description:||First Edition|
|Product dimensions:||6.30(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.30(d)|
About the Author
LINDA FRANCIS LEE is a native Texan now living on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. The author of twenty-one books that are published in twenty countries, when Linda isn't writing she loves to run in Central Park and spend time with her husband, family, and friends.
Read an Excerpt
The Glass Kitchen
By Linda Francis Lee
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2014 Linda Francis Lee
All rights reserved.
On the morning her sister went missing, Portia Cuthcart woke up to thoughts of blueberries and peaches.
The taste of fruit filled her mouth, so sweet, so real, as if she'd been eating in her dreams. With a groggy yawn, she scooted out of bed. She pulled on her favorite fluffy slippers and big-girl's robe, then shuffled into the tiny kitchen of the double-wide trailer on the outskirts of Willow Creek, Texas. Without thinking about what she was doing, she pulled blueberries from the icebox and peaches from the fruit bin.
She might have been only seven years old, but she was smart enough to know that her mother would have a fit if she pulled out knives, or did anything near the two-burner hot plate. Instead, Portia pulled the peaches apart, catching the sticky-sweet juice on her tongue as it ran down her fingers. She found a slice of angel food cake wrapped in plastic and plopped the fruit on top.
Just as she stood back, satisfied with what she had made, her parents tumbled into the trailer like apples poured out of a bushel basket, disorderly, frantic.
Portia's oldest sister, Cordelia, followed. "Olivia's missing," Cordelia stated with all the jaundiced arrogance of a thirteen-year-old convinced she had the answers to everyone's ills. "Disappeared," she clarified with a snap of her fingers, "just like that."
Portia knitted her brow, her hair a cloud of whipped-butter curls dancing around her face. Olivia was always in trouble, but she usually did bad stuff right in front of their eyes. "Nobody disappears just like that, Cordie. You're exaggerating."
Her mother didn't seem to hear. Mama stared at the fruit and cake.
"Don't be mad," Portia blurted. "I didn't use any knives."
Her mother dropped to her knees in front of Portia. "Peaches and blueberries. Olivia's favorites. Why did you make this?"
Portia blinked, pushing a curl out of her eye. "I don't know. I woke up thinking about them."
For a second, her mother looked stricken; then she pressed her lips together. "Earl," she said, turning to Daddy, "Olivia's down by the far horse pasture, near the peach tree and blueberry patch."
Her parents' eyes met before they glanced back at Portia. Then her mother stood and pushed Daddy out the door. Even though the emergency was over, Mama's face was still tense, her eyes dark.
Twenty minutes later, the missing eleven-year-old Olivia pranced up the three metal steps of the trailer in front of Daddy, her lips stained with blueberries, her dress splotched with peach juice, flowers tangled in her hair.
It was the first time food gave Portia an answer before a question had been asked.
Not an hour after Olivia was found, Portia and her mother were in the family's ancient pickup truck, bumping along the dirt roads of backwater Texas until they came to her grandmother's café, a place that had been handed down through generations of Gram's ancestors. The Glass Kitchen. Portia loved how its whitewashed clapboard walls and green tin roof, giant yawning windows, and lattice entwined with purple wisteria made her think of doll houses and thatch-roofed cottages.
Excited to see Gram, Portia jumped out of the old truck and followed her mother in through the front door. The melting-brown-sugar and buttery-cinnamon smells reminded her that The Glass Kitchen was not for play. It was real, a place where people came from miles around to eat and talk with Portia's grandmother.
Portia smiled at all the regulars, but her mother didn't seem to notice anyone, which was odd because Mama always used her best company manners wherever they went. But today she walked straight toward Gram, who sat at her usual table off to the side. Gram always sat in the same place, watching the goings-on, doling out advice, and making food recommendations for all those who asked. And everyone asked. Portia had a faint memory of a time when Gram actually did the cooking, but now she left it to others, to hired help who stayed hidden behind swinging doors.
"She has it," was all Mama said.
Gram sat back, the sun streaming through the windows, catching in the long gray hair she pulled back in a simple braid. "I suspected as much."
Portia didn't understand what was happening, then was surprised when Gram turned to her and beckoned her close. "You have a gift, Portia. A knowing, just like me, just like generations of your ancestors. Now it's my job to teach you how to use it."
Mama pressed her eyes closed, steepling her hands in front of her face.
Despite her mama's frown, Portia was excited about this knowing thing. It made her feel special, chosen, and as each day passed, she began to walk around with a new sense of purpose, pulling apart more peaches and making creations in a way that set her older sisters' teeth on edge. Cordelia and Olivia weren't nearly as happy about the special gift Portia supposedly had.
But four months later, the thick Texas air was sucked dry when the girls' daddy was shot dead in a hunting accident. Four months after that, their mama died, too. The official report cited cause of death as severe cardiac arrhythmia, but everyone in town said she'd died of a broken heart.
Stunned and silenced, Portia and her sisters moved in with Gram above the restaurant. Cordelia found comfort in books, Olivia in flowers. Portia found comfort when Gram started bringing her into the kitchen in earnest. But strangely, Gram didn't mention one thing about the knowing, much less teach her anything about it. Mostly Gram taught her the simple mechanics of cooking and baking.
Still, that worked. The Glass Kitchen was known to heal people with its slow-cooked meals and layered confections, and it healed Portia, too. Gradually, like sugar brought to a slow boil, Portia began to ease out of a brittle state and find a place for herself among the painted-wood tables and pitted silverware in a way Cordelia and Olivia never did.
And then it began to happen in earnest, like the dream of peaches and blueberries, but more real, more frequent.
Without a single one of those promised lessons from her grandmother, Portia began to see and taste food without having it in front of her, the images coming to her like instincts, automatic and without thought. She found that she knew things without having to be taught. Rich dark chocolate would calm a person who was hiding their anxiety. Hot red chili mixed with eggs first thing in the morning relieved symptoms of someone about to succumb to a terrible cold. Suddenly her world made sense, as if she had found a hidden switch, the meaning of what she was supposed to do blazing to life like a Christmas tree lighting up in a burst of color.
During that first school year, and the ones that followed, without her parents, Portia spent her days studying and her nights and weekends in the kitchen. During the summers, Portia and her sisters traveled to New York City to stay with Gram's sister. Great-aunt Evie had moved away forty years earlier, escaping a prescribed life that boxed her in. Once in New York, Evie became an actress on Broadway, famous enough to buy a town house on the Upper West Side.
"This place will be yours one day," Evie told the girls.
All three sisters loved the old town house that rose up from the city sidewalk like a five-layer wedding cake decorated with perfect fondant icing. Cordelia and Olivia promised each other that as soon as they could, they would move to New York City for good. Portia didn't believe for a second that either of them would do it.
But ten years after their parents' deaths, three years after Cordelia married, Portia woke up knowing she had to bake a five-layer cake with perfect fondant icing. Once the cake was finished, Portia stood back, her heart twisting, and knew Cordelia was leaving Texas. No one was surprised when Olivia followed her to New York six months later.
Portia missed her sisters, but her days were full. She became the main cook at The Glass Kitchen while Gram sat out front doling out advice and food choices. And still no lessons on the knowing.
One day Portia whipped up a mixed-up mess of sweet potatoes and asparagus, two items that never went together. But somehow, the way she made it, had people ordering more. Just as she served up the last portion, in walked the young lawyer and up-and-coming Texas state senator Robert Baleau, and her world shifted. Despite being born and raised in Willow Creek, he was as foreign to Portia as if he'd moved there from Greece. He was from the opposite side of town, from a world of debutante balls and heirloom pearls. With his sandy blond hair and laughing blue eyes, he charmed her, moved her with his devotion to serving the people, not to mention her.
Soon he began taking her with him as he traveled around the county to political functions. People all over the region loved Portia and said that she made a pretty boy more real. All she cared about was that she adored Robert.
The day he proposed, she threw her arms around him before she could think twice. "Yes, yes, yes!" she said as he laughed and twirled her around.
Surprisingly, Robert's wealthy parents approved. It was Gram who didn't.
"They'll hurt you," Gram said, scowling. "You're not part of their world, and you never will be."
But with every day that passed, more and more of Robert's world embraced Portia Cuthcart, the girl who grew up in a double-wide — even if the fancier people weren't particularly comfortable talking about The Glass Kitchen or the legendary Gram.
As the wedding grew near, another shift began, as slow as thyme breaking through the earth in spring. Robert began to notice that Portia knew things. At first, he laughed them off. But soon he began to tense every time she knew she needed to bake or cook something — like his mother's favorite lemon bars just before she invited Portia over for tea. Or tuna casserole in a tinfoil pan, the kind perfect for freezing and giving to someone in need — just before a neighbor's wife died.
One morning Portia woke knowing she had to make long, thick strands of pulled taffy that she wove into thin lengths of rope. Robert walked into the kitchen and came to a surprised stop when he saw the braided candy spread across the kitchen counter along with everything else she had known she needed. "This is unnatural," he said quietly.
Confused, Portia blinked. "What's unnatural about whipped cream, Saran Wrap, and ropes of taffy?"
She was almost certain Robert blushed and looked uncomfortable. "Portia, sweet, normal women don't know things that other people are thinking."
"My grandmother knows." Portia kept her hands moving, twisting the taffy before it could stiffen.
"I rest my case. If anyone isn't normal, it's your grandmother."
Her hands stilled. "Robert. There is nothing wrong with Gram. And there is nothing wrong with me."
He blinked, then blurted, "You're telling me that after I had sexual thoughts this afternoon, and you went out and put together the very things I fantasized about, that that's normal?"
As soon as the words were out of his mouth, his eyes widened. Portia was shocked, too, but then she laughed. "You were fantasizing about me? Me and ropes of taffy and whipped cream?"
She let her laughter turn into a sexy smile; then she wiped her hands and walked over to him. For half a second, the good Christian politician started to succumb, but then he took her hands and gave them a reassuring little squeeze, placing them against his heart. "I want to marry you, Portia. But I need you to be like other women. I need you to ... not bake pies before the church announces a bake sale. I need you to be normal. Can you do that for me?"
Portia was stunned into silence.
Robert kissed her on the brow and refused to discuss it any further. She knew to his mind it was a simple yes-or-no question.
Since it was Monday, The Glass Kitchen was closed. As soon as Robert left, Portia went in search of her grandmother, needing to talk. Something had been off with Gram recently. Great-aunt Evie had died only a month before, leaving the town house to the girls. They all missed her, but with Gram it was as if a piece of her had died along with her sister.
Portia walked into the kitchen and realized that Gram wasn't there in the same second that another bout of knowing buckled her over at the waist.
Heart pounding, she started to prepare the meal that hit her so hard. Her famous cherry tomatoes stuffed with chile, cheese, and bacon, along with pulled pork, endive slaw, and potato pancakes with homemade catsup. She cooked, knowing she could do nothing else, though she was surprised when she realized she needed to set the table for only one.
Gram must have gone out for the day without telling her. But ten minutes after Portia sat down to eat, Gram walked into the kitchen from the back parking lot. At the sight of the meal and single place setting, Gram had to steady herself on the counter's edge.
Portia leaped up and started gathering another plate and silverware.
"No need," Gram said, setting her handbag down, then headed out of the kitchen.
Portia raced after her, but at the doorway to her grandmother's bedroom, Gram turned and pressed her dry hand to Portia's cheek. "It's time. I should have known you'd learn the knowing whether I taught you or not."
"What are you talking about?"
Gram smiled then, a resigned smile. But she didn't answer. She shut the bedroom door.
Portia returned to the kitchen and paced, hating that she didn't know what the meal meant. An eerie sense of dread rushed through her. She decided that if Gram wanted to go somewhere, she wouldn't let her take the car. She wouldn't allow her near the stove or the knives. She would keep her safe from whatever might be coming, anything that could have been predicted by the single place setting.
It was summer and hot, the painfully blue afternoon sky parched by heat and humidity. Gram didn't return to the kitchen until nearly four o'clock.
Portia jumped and ran across the hard-tile floor. "What's wrong?"
"It's time for you to take over The Glass Kitchen for good."
Portia kept trying to solve whatever was wrong. But that ended when Gram stepped around her and headed for the back door of The Glass Kitchen.
"Where are you going?"
Gram didn't retrieve her handbag or keys. There was nothing Portia could take away to keep her from leaving.
"Gram, you can't leave!"
Gram didn't listen. She walked out the door, Portia following, pleading, "Gram, where are you going?"
But what Portia hadn't expected was that her grandmother would stop abruptly underneath the suddenly stormy Texas sky and raise her hands high. Lightning came down like the crack of God's hand, quick and reaching, striking Gram.
Shock, along with electricity, surged through Portia, knocking her off her feet like a rag doll thrown to the dirt by an angry child. Her blouse ripped at the shoulder, blood marking the white material like a brand.
The rest was a blur — people hurrying to them, the ambulance screaming into the yard. What stood out was that Portia knew she was responsible. If only she hadn't cooked the meal. If only she had set the table for two instead of one. If only she hadn't allowed her grandmother to walk out the door. If only she had never had even a glimpse of the knowing.
But if onlys didn't change anything. Gram was gone, all because of a meal Portia hadn't even begun to understand but had prepared.
Standing in the dirt lot, The Glass Kitchen behind her, Portia promised herself she wouldn't cook again.
A month later, she married Robert, then began shaping herself into the perfect Texas politician's wife, erasing everything she could of herself until she was a blank slate of polite smiles and innocuous conversation. She slammed the lid shut on the knowing.
And became normal.CHAPTER 2
The sound of traffic woke Portia.
Minutes ticked by before she realized where she was. New York City, on the Upper West Side, in the garden apartment of Great-aunt Evie's old town house, three years after her wedding, a month after her divorce from Robert Baleau.
Portia rolled over, covering her head with the pillow.
For the last three years, she had closed the door on visions of food until she had practically forgotten her unnerving ability was there. She'd worked hard to be like everyone else.
To be normal.
She groaned into the pillow. The only way she could be called normal was if normal meant stupid, not to mention naive. Why hadn't she realized that her husband didn't want her anymore? Why hadn't she figured out that the only real reason he wanted her at all was to make him seem more appealing to voters? More than that, why hadn't she known he would be so callous in getting rid of her after he'd come home and told her he wanted a divorce?
Not long after Robert had secured his place in politics, the supposedly good Christian politican developed a wandering eye, or maybe just gave in to it. Naturally, she had been the last to hear the whispers. But what she definitely hadn't heard until after the divorce papers were set in front of her was that the real reason he needed a divorce was because he had gotten one of aides pregnant.
Excerpted from The Glass Kitchen by Linda Francis Lee. Copyright © 2014 Linda Francis Lee. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
First Course, Appetizer: Chile Cheese and Bacon-Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes,
Second Course, Soup: Crab and Sweet Corn Chowder,
Third Course, Salad: Grapefruit and Avocado Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing,
Fourth Course, Palate Cleanser: Blood Orange Ice,
Fifth Course, The Entrée: Fried Chicken with Sweet Jalapeño Mustard,
Sixth Course, Dessert: Mountains of Wildly Sweet Watermelon with Fresh Violet Garnish,
Also by Linda Francis Lee,
About the Author,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Loved everything about THE GLASS KITCHEN – think sassy southern Texas, meets sophisticated demanding Upper West Side, filled with love of family and sisters, epicurean delights, life’s lessons of forgiveness, courage, and second chances. As a child, Portia had a dream to run her grandmother’s restaurant (The Glass Kitchen) in Texas; however, after settling for a different life (married to a senator which betrayed her with her best friend, and did not allow her to use her cooking talents); a life derailed, she finds herself divorced, and moving to Manhattan to join her two sisters, Olivia and Cordelia. Portia is sure she was responsible for her grandmother’s untimely death and gives up her passion of cooking, due to this misconception. She inherited the ancestral gift (a "knowing" about events thru food), and her Gram instructed her how to use her abilities, leaving some helpful cookbooks and tips (how to heal certain illnesses with specific foods, among other things). The last thing Portia wants is to get involved with a man and his daughters. She has problems of her own – like how to survive in NYC! However, the minute she meets this man – her food thoughts come back strong, and no matter how much she tries to escape, the more she is pulled into this world of food, cooking, and lust. With quirky neighbors (Stanley and Marcus), supportive sisters, hot sex, some strong women, yummy gourmet recipes, love of food and recipes for life, with a young girl’s determination to put her family back together, to one’s woman’s courage and journey to fulfillment and passion – a meal you will want to savor! Linda Francis Lee created an irresistible banter and chemistry between Gabriel and Portia, which will keep you smiling and rooting for this sizzling, yet odd couple. And oh, Aerial will melt your heart, with her intelligence and winning personality, as she finds her way. From the inviting front cover to the delectable and mouth-watering recipes – a captivating novel of love, forgiveness, family, courage, and the determination to follow your heart and dreams. A five star winner! Looking forward to reading more from this insightful and talented author. A special thank you, to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an unbiased and honest review.
Would Someone PLEASE clean up these review sections?? For those of us who seriously want to post/read reviews why can't someone at Barnes and Noble clean up the gibberish posted here--in addition to many more review pages? It makes a joke of those of us trying to post! As for this novel, I found it harmless but totally predictable. The title is rather misleading as well as 'a story of sisters' makes us think it's really about the main character and her sisters--but it quickly dissolves into a soap opera melodrama of the 'sisters' of Ariel and Miranda. We get far more of the children/bratty teen plot than we ever find out about Portia's sisters--who are a lot more interesting. The magical realism plot line ultimately sort of goes nowhere ('Like Water for Chocolate' or 'Babette's Feast' are much better options) and as for the love interest? Please--i was rolling my eyes by the time I had to endure the countless references to him being 'an animal, a beast, dark, brooding.' It got to the point where I lost all patience with not only those silly descriptions but by Portia's inability to stay away from a controlling man who utters such endearments as 'mine' when he dominates her. I could give the novel maybe 2 and a half or three stars for a harmless but otherwise pointless beach read. Lovely cover.
I received an ARC of this book through a First Reads giveaway on Goodreads. I have really mixed feelings about this book. Parts of it really dragged for me and I questioned if I would make it all the way through. I am glad that I stuck with it because I really liked the ending. There were things that I really liked about the book that saved it from utter failure and brought my rating up to 3 stars. I really liked the subtle magical realism in the story. I thought the idea of a sixth sense with food was unique and interesting. It was used very effectively in telling the story. Character development was another really strong aspect of the book. I really liked the relationship dynamic of the three sisters. I enjoyed watching the relationship between Gabriel and Portia as well as Ariel and Portia develop. There were also characters that added the right amount of tension throughout the book. Although I liked the basic story line and the characters, I did not really like the author’s writing style. Like I said, parts of this book really dragged for me. I really felt like there were huge gaps in the story, the transitions were abrupt, and sometimes there was really too much going on. Although, splitting the book into a “6 course menu” was a unique concept, I think it made the story all the more disorganized for me. I would probably not go out of my way to recommend the book but I would not discourage someone from reading it. In fact, I thought it was interesting to read other reviews and see the many viewpoints that are. I thank the publisher for giving me a copy of the book and the recipe cards that came with it. I will most likely try the recipes.
My first was this was going to be another book about some sisters opening a café or dinner, falling in love, and being successful. I wasn’t entirely wrong, but there was so much more to this story. The Glass Kitchen is a fun, sweet, and wonderful book about three sassy and unique sisters trying to make it in Manhattan. Portia Cuthcart is a great character. Her magical knowing powers kept me entertaining. As she figured out what to cook, not knowing why she had to cook that specific thing, I tried to guess before Linda Francis Lee let the reader in on the reason. Her relationship with Ariel and Miranda was just how a “friend” of their dad’s should be. She was the friend when they needed a friend and a mother when they needed a mother, never over stepping her boundaries. Now, her relationship with Gabriel was so complicated. The heat was obvious, the attraction a given, yet they managed to keep it separate from their everyday lives through most of the book. I loved this book. The characters were fun and lovable, the story was entertaining and mostly believable, and I could not put it down. This is a clever and well written book that is easy to read and enjoy.
Nicely written interactions, believable characters, and just enough offbeat to keep you reading when there are a dozen other things you ought to be doing. Having read this and Einstein, I'm hoping for more from this genuinely good author.
Emily and Einstein by Linda Francis Lee is one of my favorite books, I may have liked The Glass Kitchen even more. In fact, when I finished reading I wanted to start over at the beginning, just to make sure I didn't miss anything. The Glass Kitchen is the sweet and poignant story of two young girls recovering from the loss of their mother, but it's mostly the story of twelve year old Ariel coming to terms with the accident that she believes is her fault, she also believes she's disappearing. It's the story of Portia, whose husband left her for her best friend. Portia has the ability to know what food to make to heal the people around her, she inherited this ability from her grandmother. After her husband dumps her, she moves from Texas to New York to the garden apartment left to her by her great-aunt. Her two sisters sold their parts of the apartment to Gabriel (father of Ariel)and he wants the last section of the building. This is a book of family, failure, success, and love. It's also a book about the healing powers of food.
This is not normally a book I would read, it is a little sad in parts and I don't do sad but it turned out to be a fabulous story of family relationships and love. Gabriel is a hard no nonsense kind of man, Portia is full of fun and has a strange ability to know exactly what someone needs just as they need it. Gabriel has 2 daughters, both teenagers and they are full of their own kind of trouble. I highly recommend this book.
From the time she was a young girl, Portia Cuthcart loved cooking with her grandmother. Her grandmother had a special touch, knowing exactly what to cook to make someone feel good before they even know that they needed it. Portia inherited that unique talent. Portia was happy living in Texas with her husband, a politician, until the day she discovered her was sleeping with her best friend. Distraught, divorced and with no money, she headed to New York City to the garden apartment her aunt left her. Her sisters Cordelia and Olivia lived in New York as well, so Portia had a support system there. She discovered that the man who bought out Cordelia's and Olivia's apartments in her aunt's building also wanted to buy hers, but she did not want to sell. Gabriel is a Wall Street big money man, a widower with a two daughters. He is brooding and pushy and sexy, and he wants Portia to sell him her apartment, which Portia refuses to do. You can probably guess where this is heading. Running low on funds, Portia decides to open a restaurant with her sisters called The Glass Kitchen. Portia works her food magic, cooking dishes that come to her. She begins by selling them out of her garden apartment home, until the health department shuts her down. Gabriel hires Portia to cook for his family, and she becomes close to his younger daughter Ariel, who misses her mother terribly and was in the car when her mother had the fatal car accident. Ariel is looking for answers to questions about her mother. The descriptions of food in The Glass Kitchen will drive you into your own kitchen to recreate the recipes that Lee has helpfully put in the end of the book. You can create an entire six course meal with the recipes for Crab and Sweet Corn Chowder and Fried Chicken with Sweet Jalapeno Mustard, making this a good book for a book club meal. The Glass Kitchen has some very hot sex scenes, great descriptions of food, a terrific sister relationship and some memorable characters (the elderly neighbor couple were my favorite). It's a wonderful book to while away a Sunday afternoon and then create a delicious Sunday dinner. (And the cover art is absolutely irresistible.)
Loved every word. Such a unique story and one that threw in many surprises.
Couldn't put the down. Excellent read .
The characters and story were different and very enjoyable. Well worth reading.
Another good ready from Linda Francis Lee. I loved it and await her next novel....soon I hope.
Absolutely LOVED this book. Very funny and contemporary. The main character, Portia gives this feel of warmth, love and curiosity. I absolutely recommend this novel if you're looking for a little giggle.
To be cliche, I really did judge this book by its cover--very endearing picture with an equally endearing promise of being about sisters, of which I have 4. The story is just ok; it is very predictable and the repetition of descriptions like dark, brooding, beastly and rakish hair makes it frustrating. It would be a decent, quick, uncomplicated beach read but it is ruined with poor editing--many typos, spelling and grammatical errors and pertinent words just left out.
Life is difficult at the best of times. But being different is difficult all of the time. Trying to make it through the teen years is damn near impossible without some kind of drama or heart-dropping event. Having sisters can make life easier but sometimes very confining. Cordelia is married and on her own. Olivia is sort of a wild one who does her own thing and then comes Portia. Portia is a "knower", she knows things but it comes out in different ways. She will smell food and then have to cook if right away for whatever reason. Moving to New York City to be nearer her sisters, she moves into her apartment in her aunt's house. She meets the man and his girls who live upstairs in the ones her sisters sold. Things happen and then more happens. The girls are quite a handful and mischievousness abounds. Snooping friends, sisters who mean well and daughters who only want their daddy to be happy will push the limits to make it happen. Good beach read, fast read and I loved it, will read it again slower next time.
A delightful story about sisterly support and love. As easy read to enjoy while relaxing on the beach!
When I first started reading this and got to the knowing, I wondered where it was going. I stuck with it and glad I did. In this book life happens. So many areas touched upon. No family is the same but all walked through a mixed up family. One thing I liked bad things happened. Divorce, Death, blackmail, teenager messing up and more. The whole book covers what Portia's Grandma always said, "Some things are true, whether you believe them or not." Each one in story had issues to solve and loving others for who they were as they were.
A perfect recipe.
Linda Francis Lee has written many books in many different genres and I've read most of them. I've been eagerly waiting this book. I was so jealous of all the early reviews I'd seen. When I was approved to read an early copy, you should've seen my smile. I read this book in under 3.5 hours. I started after midnight thinking I'd read a chapter before going to sleep. I finished close to 4 am and was a mess the next day. There are so many elements that make this story great. I loved the role of family in this book. Portia and her sisters have an interesting relationship. They have sisterly love but they're so different from each other. Gabriel is having his own family issues with his two teenage daughters. I loved seeing them interact with each other. I also adore how each section of the book is broken up into courses and meals. I salivated over much of the food. I also loved the fantasy element of Portia being connected with food. It was another element that elevated the story. Another element that I loved was the range of emotions I felt as I read. I smiled and laughed at some of their antics and got that knot of despair at other times. There were tears too, and some cheering as well. It felt like everything in the book came together seamlessly. I loved being in both Portia and Ariel's heads. I felt so much for Ariel. She's in that tough time in her life and she's trying to make things better while trying to figure out where they all went wrong. If you're like me and you love to read books that take you on an emotional journey, then this book is definitely for you. Linda Francis Lee has once again written a beautiful story that will stay with you long after you've finished the last page. All you have to do is start reading the book and you'll see how amazing it is for yourself.
Really enjoyable with wonderful characters.
I really liked the light touch of magical realism, linked to Portia's relationship with food, in the new book by Linda Francis Lee. Portia has tried to supress her gift from Gram over the years, but a tumultuous divorce and subsequent move to Manhattan naturally lead to an outbreak of magical cooking. Her great-aunt's garden apartment becomes a logical place for reflecting on what she'll do next. The upstairs neighbor, Gabriel proves to be both a distraction and a job opportunity when he needs yet another housekeeper/cook to feed his two girls. Portia and her Shakespeare-y named sisters are purported to be part of this story, but I found that Olivia quickly faded to the background until necessary, while Cordelia's mountain of family problems kept her in the game. The other set of Shakespeare girls, Ariel and Miranda, are Gabriel's. Ariel is the one that pulls at your heart, worrying that she is disappearing. The lively woman downstairs becomes a source of hope for her. Plenty of romance, teen trials and rebuilding going on here, it's an easy, fun read for summer.