... a wonderful, charming tale about the healing power of friendship and how we best learn to stand on our own by first learning to lean on those who love us ... The author does an absolutely stellar job with her ensemble cast, giving us four unique heroines whose stories slowly weave together to create a charming tapestry of life in wartime rural England ... As with any good tale about friendship, the author takes pains to show us how the four are better together than they are as individuals ... Ryan does a fantastic job of inserting her rich historical research naturally into the text. The tension of airplane engines droning overhead, forcing people to wonder if they are enemy or ally and making folks figure out how to distinguish between the two and respond in moments is captured with terrific clarity...qually well handled is the issue of spousal abuse and how few resources were available to women at the time in dealing with it ... The only flaw in this stellar tale is that it is a bit heavy-handed in regards to the happy ending. Everything works out beautifully, with all four women finding their perfect niche in the world. It was exactly what I needed for where I am and I was completely thrilled with the finale, but those who prefer a touch more realism may be frustrated with the saccharine finish ... a completely delightful tale filled with resilient, resourceful heroines, resonant history and hope for hopeless times. For those looking for a way to warm their heart and soul on a cold winter’s day, you can’t do better than this book.
... positively delicious ... Ryan continues to excel at creating warmhearted, intriguing homefront drama ... Ryan uses alternating chapters to explore each woman’s personality, moving the drama steadily along with brisk dialogue and action. This is very much a book about women’s rights, strengths and abilities, and the class differences among characters add drama and a dash of complexity ... Recipes are included for each round, some adapted from wartime leaflets. They’re fun to read, and each is well integrated into the unfolding drama...Historical details sprinkled throughout are equally fascinating ... Ryan injects humor into their sorrow—as well as empowerment—as the group gradually learns to band together and pool their talents instead of facing off as kitchen opponents ... While The Kitchen Front goes down like a spoonful of sugar, Ryan manages to instill substance and plenty of food for thought in its creative and ultimately uplifting story.
When we first meet our contenders, it may seem obvious who we're supposed to root for. But as the story unfolds, Ryan peels back the layers of her main characters like an onion, revealing each to be multidimensional, flawed but compelling in her own way ... this is less a wartime version of Cutthroat Kitchen than what I think of as 'the sisterhood of the travelling pans:' a heartwarming story of four women determined to make their own way in the world, who find unexpected friendship — and strength — in each other ... Though the story can at times dip into the treacly, Ryan knows how to keep the pace moving, with subplots involving a handsome, caddish chef, an abusive husband and a romance with a prisoner of war. The end result is a charming tale that will satiate a lot of different tastes: historical fiction lovers, cooking competition fans, anyone who revels in girl-power lit. There are even ration-era recipes for food history geeks like yours truly (though I can't say I'm tempted to try whale meat pie anytime soon) ... Toss it all together and you've got a comfort-food read I gobbled right up. It seems fitting that I finished reading the final pages while chopping celery for mirepoix in my kitchen — this story had me so hooked, I literally couldn't put it down to cook.