The Kitchen Daughter – Jael McHenry

April 11, 2011 § 1 Comment

This amazing debut novel is on sale starting tomorrow!


Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster  April 12, 2011

Julie & Julia meets Jodi Picoult in this poignant and delectable novel with recipes, chronicling one woman’s journey of self-discovery at the stove.

After the unexpected death of her parents, shy and sheltered twenty-six-year-old Ginny Selvaggio, isolated by Asperger’s Syndrome, seeks comfort in family recipes. But the rich, peppery scent of her Nonna’s soup draws an unexpected visitor into the kitchen: the ghost of Nonna herself, dead for twenty years, who appears with a cryptic warning—before vanishing like steam from a cooling dish.

A haunted kitchen isn’t Ginny’s only challenge. Her domineering sister Amanda insists on selling their parents’ house in Philadelphia, the only home Ginny has ever known. As she packs up her parents’ belongings, Ginny finds evidence of family secrets she isn’t sure how to unravel. She knows how to turn milk into cheese and cream into butter, but she doesn’t know why her mother hid a letter in the bedroom chimney, or the identity of the woman in her father’s photographs. The more she learns, the more she realizes the keys to these riddles lie with the dead, and there’s only one way to get answers: cook from dead people’s recipes, raise their ghosts, and ask them.

Offering a fascinating glimpse into the unique mind of a woman struggling with Asperger’s and featuring evocative and mouth-watering descriptions of food, this lyrical novel is as delicious and joyful as a warm brownie.


“…an intelligent and moving account of an intriguing heroine’s belated battle to find herself.”

Publishers Weekly on THE KITCHEN DAUGHTER

“Jael McHenry writes passionately about food and foodies…her fresh, sharp story has as many layers as a good pate a choux.”


“Skillfully rendered from Ginny’s point of view, McHenry’s debut novel is a touching tale about loss and grief, love and acceptance.”

–Kirkus Review, February 1, 2011 on THE KITCHEN DAUGHTER

“In THE KITCHEN DAUGHTER, Jael McHenry combines a unique voice, richly drawn characters, and a dash of magic–all the right ingredients for an engaging and enjoyable read.”

–Lisa Genova, New York Times bestselling author of STILL ALICE and LEFT NEGLECTED

“Magical, strong, and compelling, The Kitchen Daughter asks what is normal, how well do you know your family, and where does grief go? Jael McHenry blends seemingly unmixable ingredients into sustaining answers. I read this book in one satisfying gulp and smiled in comfort when I’d finished this distinctive, nourishing, and wise novel.”

–Randy Susan Meyers, author of the international bestseller, THE MURDERER’S DAUGHTERS

“Add a pinch of magic, a dash of heartache, and a generous portion of lyrical beauty and you have The Kitchen Daughter, an enchanting tale of familial loss and quiet redemption––I loved it.”

– Jamie Ford, New York Times bestselling author of HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET

“A delectable family drama, The Kitchen Daughter whips up a sumptuous blend of suspense, magic and cooking. A nourishing debut.”

-Allison Winn Scotch,  New York Times bestselling author of THE ONE THAT I WANT and TIME OF MY LIFE

“Equal parts sweet and savory, THE KITCHEN DAUGHTER by Jael McHenry is a fresh story with all the comforts of home.  Ginny’s ability to conjure ghosts while dabbling in family recipes is so touching readers will want to pull up a stool.  A heartwarming debut.”

— Lynne Griffin, author of SEA ESCAPE and LIFE WITHOUT SUMMER

“Jael McHenry’s debut is a blast of fresh air, featuring an utterly original heroine who filters her view of an unpredictable world through her love of food. A fresh premise, terrific writing, and memorable characters blended beautifully – and made me devour The Kitchen Daughter.”

— Sarah Pekkanen, author of SKIPPING A BEAT and THE OPPO

“For Ginny Selvaggio, the protagonist of Jael McHenry’s captivating debut novel, food is a kind of glossary and cooking provides its own magic, whether it’s summoning the dead or softening the sharp edges of a world she finds neither comfortable nor familiar. THE KITCHEN DAUGHTER is sweet and bitter-sharp, a lush feast of a novel about the links between flavor and memory, family and identity.”

–Carolyn Parkhurst, New York Times bestselling author

“This debut novel from Jael McHenry is everything you want in discovering a new writer. The Kitchen Daughter is subtle and effortless and emotional and lovely. The food and recipes aren’t gimmicky add-ons, but integral to the momentum of the story — and they make you want to run to the kitchen, except then you’d have to stop reading. It’s a layered and satisfying tale.”

–        Stacey Ballis, author of GOOD ENOUGH TO EAT and THE SPINSTER SISTERS

“Gorgeously written and uniquely delicious, The Kitchen Daughter follows an endearingly awkward character after tragedy upsets the fragile order of her world. Jael McHenry is a true wordsmith who shines in evoking Ginny’s perspective of family and food, her compelling sense of self, and her eventual understanding that you don’t have to be like everyone else in order to belong. A feast of words that makes you glad to be a reader.”

– Therese Walsh, author of THE LAST WILL OF MOIRA LEAHY

“The Kitchen Daughter is tender, charming and not at all what you expect—which is what makes it a true gem.  A beautifully written, boldly thought out tale of a young woman with Asperger’s syndrome suddenly alone in her childhood home after the death of her parents.  An unlikely heroine—long overdue—Ginny Selvaggio teaches us what it means to accept the magic in our lives, to never give up what we know to be true, and to honor who we are.  The end is exquisitely rendered, unexpected and hugely moving.”

—MONICA HOLLOWAY, author of Cowboy & Wills and Driving with Dead People

“When Ginny’s parents die unexpectedly, she is left on her own for the first time in her 26 year old life. Unable to cope, Ginny turns her focus to cooking various recipes from the family collection. When the ghosts of the recipe’s creators start to appear, seemingly called forth by the rich aromas of Ginny’s cooking, does it mean she is going crazy, or is it just her private way of seeking advice and comfort? Ginny’s been considered painfully shy and awkward since childhood, but it turns out she’s gone undiagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome. Her well-meaning parents protected and did everything they could for her, but now that they are gone, her sister wants her finally to get the help she needs. The question is, does she really need it? VERDICT: McHenry’s debut novel is a sensitive and realistic portrait of someone living with Asperger’s. Readers looking for good family-themed women’s fiction will enjoy this novel, and the magical element of the cooking ghosts will appeal to fans of Sarah Addison Allen.”

Library Journal Review on THE KITCHEN DAUGHTER

Ginny Selvaggio’s parents have just died in a tragic accident, leaving the young woman with Asperger’s syndrome to care for herself, living in the attic of her family’s enormous and historic home. Her sister, Amanda, a type-A young mother, is determined to sell the house, despite Ginny’s protests. During the wake, Ginny, an epicure obsessed with cooking, whips up a batch of ribollita (bread soup) from her Italian grandmother’s recipe and is shocked when Nonna’s ghost appears in the kitchen and cryptically warns, “Do no let her.” The ghost fades away as Ginny stands amazed, and she quickly discovers an ability to conjure other ghosts via handwritten recipes. She also finds an old family secret hidden in the house and must unravel it before it becomes too late to heed Nonna’s words. With recipes and long, delicious descriptions of ingredients, cooking, and delicacies, McHenry’s first novel is of definite appeal to foodies, yet the compelling characters and twisting mystery constitute a story many readers will devour.



§ One Response to The Kitchen Daughter – Jael McHenry

  • […] The Kitchen Daughter – Jael McHenry « cozybogie “Skillfully rendered from Ginny's point of view, McHenry's debut novel is a touching tale about loss and grief, love and acceptance.” –Kirkus Review, February 1, 2011 on THE KITCHEN DAUGHTER. “In THE KITCHEN DAUGHTER, Jael McHenry . […]

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