Week four in our “Book of Summer” series brings us to Linda Francis Lee and her novel THE GLASS KITCHEN. It’s the perfect summer read. Food. Love. Sisters. Manhattan. What more could you want? As we’ve done each week in this series, we have all five books up for grabs. (See the entry form below) You can also read about the other novels we’ve featured so far and enter the giveaways here, here, and here.
As a Texan living in New York City, I am always struck by the fact that I grew up in wide open spaces but have come to love such a contained place like Manhattan – an island, a place that can only be reached by bridges or tunnels. Living in New York City, I am worlds away from both my hometown and my family. When I started plotting THE GLASS KITCHEN, I was thinking a lot about the sorts of friendships I was making here – deep, rich bonds with friends who had become like family. We had elegant dinner parties and impromptu dinners thrown together with whatever we had in the refrigerator. Despite being so far away from home, I was reminded of growing up with my own mother’s dinner parties, and the magic good food has when combined with friends and family. What, I wondered, would happen if I had a sister from Texas who moves to Manhattan. I couldn’t wait to start plotting!
The Glass Kitchen is primarily the story of Portia Cuthcart, a youngest sister, as she makes her way in a city world that is so different from the one she came from. But it is also the story of Ariel, the man upstairs’ daughter, sister to Miranda, who at twelve is also trying to find her way, to solve the mystery to why her own little family suddenly finds themselves in Manhattan as well. It is the bond that Portia and Ariel form that helps each of them find their way to unravel secrets of their pasts and forge a path to possibilities for the future. But sometimes the love of family can get in the way. Just because one person wants the past unraveled, doesn’t mean everyone else wants that too. I loved exploring the idea that sometimes you have to decide how to move forward when your freedom from secrets means someone else might get hurt? If you love someone, how much are you willing to risk in order to live fully? The Glass Kitchen is a novel of full of friends and laughter, sisters and cooking, falling in love and risking everything in order to find what it means to be family.
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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 kitchen—like an island—can 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.