Skip to main content

Miss Eliza's English Kitchen: A Novel of Victorian Cookery and Friendship by Annabel Abbs (ALC review)

Miss Eliza's English Kitchen was a very intriguing read. I do like a good historical fiction from time to time, specially when it is based in real facts and real people (if you like historical fiction, see Tsarina- it even made on my top 10 of 2020) and this one did not disappoint. Perfection!


Blurb:

In a novel perfect for fans of Hazel Gaynor’s A Memory of Violets and upstairs-downstairs stories, Annabel Abbs, the award-winning author of The Joyce Girl, returns with the brilliant real-life story of Eliza Acton and her assistant as they revolutionized British cooking and cookbooks around the world.

Before Mrs. Beeton and well before Julia Child, there was Eliza Acton, who changed the course of cookery writing forever.

England 1837. Victorian London is awash with exciting new ingredients from spices to exotic fruits, but Eliza Acton has no desire to spend her days in the kitchen. Determined to be a poet and shamed by the suggestion she write a cookery book instead, she at first refuses to even consider the task. But then her father is forced to flee the country for bankruptcy, shaming the family while leaving them in genteel poverty. As a woman, Eliza has few options, so she methodically collects recipes while teaching herself the mysteries of the kitchen. And to her surprise, she discovers she is not only talented at cooking—she loves it.

To assist her, she hires seventeen-year-old Ann Kirby, the impoverished daughter of a war-injured father and a mother losing her grip on reality. Under Eliza’s tutelage, Ann learns about poetry, cookery, and love, while unravelling a mystery in her mistress’s past. Through the art of food, Eliza and Ann develop an unusual friendship and break the mold of traditional cookbooks by adding elegant descriptions and ingredient lists, that are still used today.

Told in alternate voices, this is an amazing novel of female friendship, the ensuring struggle for freedom, the quiet joy of cookery, and the place of food in creativity all while bringing Eliza Acton out of the archives and back into the public eye. 

The story is told alternately by Ann and Eliza. We get a good view in the way each of them thinks and how, although their lives are completely different, some of their fears and internal struggles are oh so similar. 

Eliza wants more than the world of her time allowed a woman of her age that was still single to have and do. She wants to write poems and ends up writing a cooking book instead. I dare you not to be hungry while reading this one. It is virtually impossible. Annabel Abbs did a great job at describing every little morsel of food in perfect detail, from the look, to the taste, and aroma. Eliza has a wonderful soul, but throughout the book she realizes her struggles are perhaps not as harsh as those less fortunate, such as Ann. And towards the end, we also find that her struggles are not as simple as being a spinster, there is more to it.

Ann also wants more than what the world of her time allowed of woman of her station. She is very poor, with a drunk as a father, and a mother with serious mental health issues. She ends up working as Miss Eliza's assistant and the two bond over food. Ann is very young and it is intriguing to see her grow as a woman. It is also at times disturbing, man at that time could get away with just about anything done to the help.

The book was mesmerizing from beginning to end. Kept you engaged and wanting to know how it would all unfold. And although it is a work of fiction, it is based on very real facts. Elizabeth Acton produced one of the very first British cooking books for housewives having a list of measurements and precise instructions, though I think in her book all the ingredients where at the end of the recipe rather than at the beginning, as we have today.

Highly recommend this one to anyone that loves a good historical fiction! 

Find the book at: Inklings Bookshop - GoodReads


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Quickies, April 2021

I read a good amount of older releases this past two months. I will not write long individual reviews for every single one of them but here are is a little bit about each one of them:  - Visions of Heat by Nalini Singh It's unlikely I will ever dislike something Nalini writes. She is a master of her craft. This is the second book in the Psy-Changeling series and it is just as good as the first. Shy and isolated Faith is plagued by visions of blood and murder. She has questions and needs help but can't ask those around her. She turns to the changelings and the only Psy she knows that has defied her race (first book in the series). Vaughn is more cat than human but has to control his instincts not to scare Faith away. This was a fabulous paranormal romance read but you really must read the first book first! 4 stars from me :)  - Desperate Measures by Katee Robert Desperate Measures is the story of Jafar and Jasmine. But if you read Katee before you know it is not that simple at

Fortune Favors the Duke (The Cambridge Brothers #1) by Kristin Vayden [arc review]

@glimpses_of_my_books Oh the beauty that is discovering new authors! Kristin Vayden is someone I had not heard of before Fortune Favors the Duke  was announced and Sourcebooks told me she is local to Washington State. I am planning a signing event with her and Lucy Gilmore this December at  Inkling Bookshop  and of-course I had to read the book ahead of time.  Fortune Favors the Duke  was utterly adorable! I managed to read this beauty in two sittings and I will be reading the other books in the series. Blurb: Quinton Errington is perfectly happy teaching at Cambridge, with his elder brother carrying the duties of being the Duke of Wesley. But when a trip to celebrate Wesley's last week of bachelorhood ends in tragedy, Quinton, who becomes the Duke of Wesley, would give anything to have his brother back. Now, under the most heartbreaking circumstances, Wesley's would-be bride, Catherine Greatheart, is left wanting. Her only protection left, her grandmother, has fallen ill, an

A Touch of Darkness (Hades & Persephone #1) by Scarlett St. Clair

I knew very little going into this book except that it had my current favorite bad boy in it: Hades! Seriously though, I have a "hades tbr" at the moment, it's a thing. And if you know any good Hades based romances do tell me. Always and forever looking for more. Hades, the God of the Dead was phenomenal. I have ZERO complaints about his character. There was more to the underworld than known by other gods and humans, and the same is true about the man that runs the place. He is to the point and although not always up front and straight forward he is always honest and true. He has built a gambling empire but his bets are not always monetary and they are known for being impossible.  Persephone was very much still learning who she really was. Up until meeting Hades and for some time after she has no power of her own. Plants die at her touch and that is that. She is also known as the goddess of spring, but that is not because of who she is but rather because of who her mother