Linda Francis Lee
Publisher: St Martin's Press
Date: June 17th 2014
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
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.
This was the first book I have ever read by Linda Francis Lee and I enjoyed it very much. Of course I think the cover is delightful as well. The book has a great cast of characters, a plot that throws up some surprises along the way and also has a little touch of the magical world of 'knowing'.
Portia is a cook who knows just what to cook before its needed. It is a gift that has come down through her family, and at times it seems to be a blessing and other times - not so much. She pushes this gift down and in doing so loses her true self. This is the story of her journey from a disaster of a marriage to learning how her gift of 'knowing' is a bridge to happiness and rightness.
Moving into an apartment left to her by her great aunt, she meets up with Gabriel and his two daughters. Ariel the younger one, was with her mother when she crashed and died in a car accident. Part of the story is told from Ariel's point of view and that was something I loved. Gradually much is revealed about her. Suffice it to say here because of all that has happened she senses that she is invisible. Her sister Miranda a few years older, acts out and gets involved with the wrong kind of group, seeking in her own way to fill the hole inside her. Life for this family is in a state of disintegration. Portia comes to care for these girls and finds herself falling for Gabriel their Dad.
Portia has two sisters Cordelia and Olivia living in New York as well. They encourage Portia to use her gift and to open a Glass Kitchen in New York. However they are all rather hard up for money and so to achieve this they need to use both fair and foul means to try to accomplish it.
The men in this story are a mixture of scoundrels, good guys and the guy! Gabriel is a good dad, but somewhat confused, harried and lacking belief in Portia. Marcus and Stanley, a couple of elderly gentlemen next door come into their own mid way into the book and I really liked them. I loved their coaching of Portia so that she spoke up for her rights and needs. I wondered whether she ever would.
Eventually all shocks are revealed, a family comes together, a gift is accepted, sisters appreciate each other even more and its time for a new start in all their lives. The final scene was just so satisfying. Raising my glass to Ariel - my favorite.