Wednesday 19 April 2023

Guest Review: One Enchanted Evening by Katie Fforde

Ever since she can remember, Meg has wanted to be a professional cook.

But it's 1966, and in restaurant kitchens all over England it is still a man's world.

Then she gets a call from her mother who is running a small hotel in Dorset.

There's an important banqueting event coming up. She needs help and she needs it now!

When Meg arrives, the hotel seems stuck in the past. But she loves a challenge, and sets to work.

Then Justin, the son of the hotel owner, appears, determined to take over the running of the kitchen.

Infuriated, Meg is determined to keep cooking - and soon sparks between them begin to fly.

Will their differences be a recipe for disaster? After all, the course of true love never did run smooth...

Review: As soon as I became aware that this new title from Katie Fforde was on its way, I preordered the audiobook and began listening on publication day. This story is linked to some of her previous books featuring a group of friends who met through a cookery course, but I feel that it can still be read as a standalone; although there are many returning characters, the relationships to each other and to the central characters in this book are well established. This story is set in Dorset in the 1960s when attitudes towards women working as chefs were different from those held today. 

The story concerns 22-year-old Meg, a trainee chef who has ambitions to become an accomplished pastry chef. When her mother asks her to come and help in the country house hotel she is running, Meg arrives to find a charming but rundown establishment in dire need of someone to cater an impending formal lunch for a large group of local people. Despite interference from Justin, son of the hotel’s absentee owner, Meg uses her initiative in producing a meal that is well received using the available resources. She then begins to come up with ideas for modernisation of the hotel’s practices and facilities without sacrificing its charm. Initially, she has to fight Justin at every turn, but he begins to appreciate her abilities. If the two can work together, could the ailing hotel be saved after all and could they become friends, and more?

I found this an entertaining read full of friendship and romance. Having read the other books featuring some of the main characters, it was nice to catch up with them while meeting some new faces. I loved the setting of the story. The rather tired hotel sounded so cosy and the staff so welcoming, at least once a rather temperamental chef had left. Meg was a gentle character until roused, when she was a formidable force. I really enjoyed the interactions between her and Justin; he found more than he bargained for from this female interloper. I would recommend this book to fans of this author and newcomers to her work alike. It’s not necessary to have read the previous titles featuring Meg and her friends, but you may want to go back and read them if you enjoy this story. 

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