Book report – The Kitchen Daughter

When I moved several years ago, I gave away more than five cartons of books.  I wish I had weighed them, just to be able to say “I gave away 500 pounds of books,” or some such superlative quote.  Those books were heavy. 

After that, I started borrowing books from the library. 

I’ll leave it for another time to analyze my conflicted feelings about believing that writers should be paid generously by eager readers (particularly since my own book Farmers Markets of the Heartland will be published next spring).  But the burden on my wallet and bookshelves led me to take a little respite.

I promised myself that I could always buy a book that I might want to read again.  Since then, I’ve been moved to buy two novels:  The Life of Pi by Yann Martel and Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman.  I loved these books so much that I wanted to give the author my money.

Now I have a third.

I first picked up The Kitchen Daughter by Jael McHenry when I heard about its evocative descriptions of cooking. The main character Ginny has a difficult time connecting with people, and cooking is how she grounds herself. I could relate.

And when Ginny conjured up dead people by cooking from their handwritten recipes, I wanted to dash to the old red plaid 1952 Better Homes & Gardens New Cookbook and flip through for the recipes my Grandma O’Brien had written on the back of envelopes.  Imagine the delight of being able to bring back people who have created happy kitchen memories.  This delight is not always the case for Ginny, but I don’t want to spoil it for you. 

In the same way I didn’t spoil it for the woman next to me on a flight to South Carolina, reading the Kindle edition.  I was glad I had an old-fashioned book because I didn’t want to stop reading during the take off and landing when everyone has to power down their electronics, including e-readers.  Seriously, if there’s ever a time I want to be lost in a book, it’s during take off and landing.

I read that McHenry hails from my beloved Midwest, and that she’ll visit my home state of Michigan in August, Ann Arbor on the 18th and Petosky on the 19th.  My fervent wish for her is to take a few days to visit the Leelanau Peninsula while she’s up north.

And if she comes anywhere near Fennville, or Chicago for that matter, I will definitely invite her over to cook.  If that happens, you’ll be sure to hear about it. 

What books have you fallen in love with?


  1. Thank you for this. I will be downloading it for my trip to the west coast tomorrow. And, that bookstore in Petoskey is one of our very favorites. We make sure to visit it every summer and buy some paper books, even though we both have kindles.

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