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Tuesday, July 27, 2021

The Beach Club Book Club Reads Jennifer Ryan's The Kitchen Front

It was time for the annual Beach Club Book Club summer book discussion. We couldn't go to the beach this year, so we discussed Jennifer Ryan's WWII novel, The Kitchen Front at the home of one of our members.

Mary Beth went all out with the theme of life in the small town outside of London during WWII. Four women compete in a cooking contest with the prize of cohosting on the BBC radio show, The Kitchen Front.

As we entered the kitchen, the island was set with the book surrounded by authentic posters from the era, and a recipe that Mary Beth made from the book- Audrey's Eggless Apple and Honey Cake (which was tasty). We were all glad that nothing with whale meat was served.

Susie made a family recipe that was handed down, potato and flour cakes fried in flour, because butter was in short supply in England in WWII.

Kerry made Victory Garden Brownies that were decorated like Audrey's garden.

Kathy put her own spin on "ration boxes", filled with wonderful appetizers. including mini wheels of brie, which made an appearance in the book. These were so cute, everyone wanted to steal the idea for their own parties.

Our discussion was insightful. We talked about the growth of the characters, particularly Lady Gwendoline, who began as a self-centered woman, but grew to become a strong, caring woman. Nell came out of her shell and showed her true accomplishments as a cook to honor Mrs. Quince, her mentor and friend. Many of us most identifed with Audrey, the widow raising her two sons, perhaps because many of us in the room have children.

We wondered if people today would be as stalwart when it came to handling the deprevations of wartime life- rationing food, growing our vegetables, raising animals (the Pig Club was interesting). The comparisons to the COVID lockdowns were commented on, and someone brought up the saying that during WWII people were asked to go to war, and during COVID we were just asked to sit on our couch and watch television,and some people found that too difficult.

Favorite scenes in the book were discussed, with the final competition scene with all the women marching into the room together receiving many comments. We liked the happy ending to the book, and hoped that perhaps the end of this book could lead into a sequel. We want to know what happens to these women once the war is over.

The Kitchen Front was big hit with the Beach Club Book Club, and if you like novels about female empowerment and friendship and the WWII British setting, you'd enjoy it too.

After a delicious and filling lunch of sandwiches, salad, quiche, and so many desserts, Kerry handed out gift bags she made for everyone. She included a bee bookmark, recipe cards, and pins and tiny ration cards. Mary Beth won the grand prize of a can of Spam. (My dad would have loved that, fried up in a pan.)

Posing with our books and aprons

The Beach Club Book Club

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