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!
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!