Book Talk: The Kitchen Front: A Novel by Jennifer Ryan

" A novel set in a time of war to a tune called pleasing." —The New York Times Book Review

The BookWalker

From the bestselling author of The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir comes an unforgettable novel of a BBC-sponsored wartime cooking competition and the four women who enter for a chance to better their lives.

About the Book

Two years into World War II, Britain is feeling her losses: The Nazis have won battles, the Blitz has destroyed cities, and U-boats have cut off the supply of food. In an effort to help housewives with food rationing, a BBC radio program called The Kitchen Front is holding a cooking contest—and the grand prize is a job as the program’s first-ever female co-host. For four very different women, winning the competition would present a crucial chance to change their lives.

For a young widow, it’s a chance to pay off her husband’s debts and keep a roof over her children’s heads. For a kitchen maid, it’s a chance to leave servitude and find freedom. For a lady of the manor, it’s a chance to escape her wealthy husband’s increasingly hostile behavior. And for a trained chef, it’s a chance to challenge the men at the top of her profession.

These four women are giving the competition their all—even if that sometimes means bending the rules. But with so much at stake, will the contest that aims to bring the community together only serve to break it apart?

Reviews & What Readers Say

A delightful debut."


“Sinks you deep inside the rich, intricate atmosphere of an English village in the middle of war . . Jennifer Ryan creates the kind of wartime novel that plays out over the intimate territory of the human heart—full of soul, full of hope.”

Beatriz Williams, New York Times bestselling author of The Golden Hours

Fans of Ryan’s debut novel, The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir . . . will be drawn in by this quick and delightful mystery set in London in March 1941. . . . Ryan’s subtlety shines in her acknowledgment of the importance of remembering the people who pass through our lives and in her descriptions of how war and conflict can teach empathy and change people for the better.

The New York Times Book Review

“Richly detailed . . . This tale swept me away.

First for Women

Nobody Ever Asked Me about the Girls: Women, Music and Fame

The Kitchen Front: A Novel by Jennifer Ryan

Ballantine Books

416 pages

ISBN 978-0593158807

Note: Now available. Click here

Jennifer Ryan is the author of The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir and The Spies of Shilling Lane and lives in the Washington, D.C., area with her husband and two children. Originally from Kent and then London, she was previously a nonfiction book editor.