Thursday, August 5, 2010

review: georgia's kitchen by jenny nelson

After a terrible review (as the result of her idiot boss seducing the reviewer’s barely legal daughter), head chef Georgia is out of a job and quickly finds herself without a fiancé as well. Seems the coke-addicted entertainment lawyer she intended to marry (even though she had a few doubts) feels their commitment drove him to drugs. Smartly, Georgia doesn’t buy it and encourages the split; it’s time to focus on her career and starting a restaurant of her own. It was incredibly refreshing to read a book with a female protagonist who didn’t fall apart and who didn’t do the happily ever after (yes, she does briefly flee to Italy for work, but her job options were minimal in New York); Georgia indulges romantically, but the restaurant becomes her focus as soon as the fiancé is out of the picture. One of my favorite moments is a conversation between Georgia and her soon-to-be business partner, Bernard. Here’s a portion of it:
She slid into the booth next to him. “So here’s the thing. In Tuscany, I learned, well, I learned a lot. But the most important thing I learned, other than it’s okay to be alone, I mean, alone as in no fiancé, no boyfriend, no lover—"

“I get it. Alone. Go on.”

“Is that it’s okay to ask for help. You know? I learned to rely on my coworkers, my colleagues, my boss, for help. Teamwork, Bernard. That’s what it’s all about, at least what it should be about. Are you with me?”
And as that passage illustrates, debut novelist Jenny Nelson does an excellent job creating dialogue that sounds just like I’d expect a 33 year old to talk to a former coworker she considers a friend. I also enjoyed the dynamic between Grammy (Dorothy’s deceased mom) and Dorothy (Georgia’s mom) and Georgia. Those relationships were very telling, authentic, and pertinent to the development of the characters.
Review copy provided by the publisher, Gallery Books.

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