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The Glass Kitchen

Review

The Glass Kitchen

Seven-year-old Portia Cuthbert wakes up in her double-wide Texas trailer home. All she can think about is blueberries and peaches, so she concocts a dish with both. Before she can dive into it, her parents and oldest sister, Cordelia, announce that the middle sister, Olivia, is missing. However, her mother is distracted as soon as she lays eyes on Portia's blueberry peach cake dish. She asks Portia why she used Olivia's favorite foods. When Portia responds that she doesn't know, that she just woke up thinking of them, her mother sends her father to find Olivia near the peach tree and blueberry bushes. Sure enough, that's where Olivia is.

Within an hour, Portia and her mother are on their way to see Gram, Portia's grandmother, who owns the café called The Glass Kitchen. "She has it," Portia's mother tells Gram, whereupon Gram turns to Portia and tells her she has a precious gift, a certain "knowing" that has been passed down through their ancestors and that she will teach Portia to use it.

"Author Linda Francis Lee also includes a handful of Portia's recipes, a sweet bonus for her culinarily-inclined readers.... [W]omen’s fiction fans are sure to devour THE GLASS KITCHEN with mouth-watering gusto."

Not too long afterward, Portia and her sisters are orphans, living with Gram. But, while Portia learns to cook and bake, Gram teaches her nothing about this unique gift Portia has inherited. As the years roll by, the sisters spend summers in New York City with Gram's sister, Great Aunt Evie, in the five-story town house she promises to leave to them.

A decade after the girls are orphaned, Portia meets a handsome young politician named Robert Baleau. She says yes when Robert proposes, even after he informs her that her "gift" is a liability that she will have to learn to quell. He needs Portia to act "normal" from now on. The day Portia and her fiancé have this discussion is a day that she will remember forever because of what happens after Robert leaves. Due to that event, everything that matters in Portia's life changes immediately, including the way she herself views her uncanny food ESP.

Portia's story then hops forward a few years, finding her living in an apartment in Great Aunt Evie's New York City townhouse, where she finds herself once again with food images whirling through her mind, try as she might to blank them out. This "knowing" tells her that she must make a chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream frosting, plus a roast. Portia is on her way to the market to get the ingredients for this meal she so urgently knows she must make when she meets an intriguing man who triggers an imagined menu of fried chicken, sweet jalapeno mustard, mashed potatoes, biscuits, and a big strawberry pie with whipped cream. Even as she tells herself that her food "knowing" about him means nothing, she and the stranger banter. She then discovers he lives upstairs from her. The man is Gabriel Kane, who now owns the rest of the townhouse, having bought out Portia's sisters. Portia is soon called upon to save her sisters, but in order to do so, she must face her deepest fear.

The story of Ariel, Gabriel Kane's younger daughter, also threads through this tale, adding a refreshing bit of mystery along with the unraveling of Kane family secrets. Author Linda Francis Lee also includes a handful of Portia's recipes, a sweet bonus for her culinarily-inclined readers. Although some may wish there was more emphasis on Portia's intriguing gift, women’s fiction fans are sure to devour THE GLASS KITCHEN with mouth-watering gusto.

Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon on June 20, 2014

The Glass Kitchen
by Linda Francis Lee

  • Publication Date: June 17, 2014
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • ISBN-10: 0312382278
  • ISBN-13: 9780312382278