By Linda Francis Lee
St. Martin’s Press; 1st edition (June 17, 2014)
Reviewed by Stefanie Kamerman
Linda Francis Lee, author of Emily and Einstein, brings forth another story of a New York Minute and second chances. The Glass Kitchen is a story about a native Texan in the Big Apple, dreaming of a better future while escaping the past. I found myself laughing out-loud numerous times while reading despite the initial serious tone the book set. The Glass Kitchen is hilariously charming and romantic.
Portia Cuthart is licking her wounds from a very public divorce. Her charmed life as a politician’s wife crumbles instantly when she finds out her husband got his assistant, and her best friend, pregnant. Not to mention the fact Portia’s strange and unusual sense she calls “The Knowing” is stronger than ever. The Knowing brings Portia cravings for food and the spontaneous desire to cook whatever The Knowing is telling her too. There is a reason for her cooking as well, more like intuition for what other people need. It is a family gift, but really Portia believes it is a curse. No matter how hard she tries to suppress it, it comes back stronger.
Determined to begin a new life, Portia moves from Texas to a New York City apartment left to her by a deceased aunt. New York City offers Portia a city of refuge and the opportunity to be closer to her sisters. New York also brings Portia a chance to resurrect The Glass Kitchen, a very successful restaurant Portia’s grandma—who also had the Knowing— once owned in Texas. With encouragement from her sisters to surrender to The Knowing, Portia relents, and gives in with determination to make The Glass Kitchen once again successful despite the odds stacked against her.
After the first night of New York apartment living, Portia wakes up with a very strong desire to make chocolate cake and a roast. It is on that day she meets her darkly handsome neighbor, Gabriel. Gabriel, a newly widowed father of two teenage daughters, has his hands full with hormonal girls and now Portia is living in the downstairs apartment. From the moment they meet their attraction is instant. Lust and desire builds between them. After her failed employment, Portia is hired by Gabriel to be his family’s cook. Against her better judgment, Portia takes the job knowing sleeping with one’s boss is never a good idea. The divorce settlement has yet to be deposited in her account, desperate times call for desperate actions.
Despite family issues of her own, Portia becomes entangled within Gabriel’s personal life. His precocious twelve-but-almost-thirteen-year old and his eldest teenage daughter are grieving the loss of their mother and their former life in another part of New York. While Portia tries to distance herself from any form of attachment, she falls in love with the enigmatic Gabriel. She also grows fond of his daughters adding to her dilemma.
While searching for investment for The Glass Kitchen, Portia searches within herself to discover who she is and what The Knowing is all about. Just when things are looking up, things turn upside down when she discovers Gabriel’s betrayal along side of her ex-husband’s greed. When one of Gabriel’s daughters goes missing, Portia pushes aside her feelings, and with help of The Knowing, helps Gabriel locate his daughter.
With themes of love and lost, close family ties, and hope, The Glass Kitchen will help you examine a Knowing of your own and if you have the courage to give into it like Portia does.
STEFANIE KAMERMAN is a contributing editor to LitChat. Read her full bio here.