The Kitchen Daughter

The Kitchen Daughter

A Novel

Book - 2011
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After the unexpected death of her parents, painfully shy and sheltered 26-year-old Ginny Selvaggio seeks comfort in cooking from 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 ("do no let her...") before vanishing like steam from a cooling dish.

A haunted kitchen isn't Ginny's only challenge. Her domineering sister, Amanda, (aka "Demanda") insists on selling their parents' house, 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.
Publisher: New York : Gallery Books, c2011.
ISBN: 9781439191699
Characteristics: viii, 272 p. ; 24 cm.


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Sep 12, 2016

Ginny Selvaggio is a young woman whose world is very circumscribed. Cooking is her passion and source of comfort when the world intrudes. The unexpected death of her parents while on vacation suddenly forces Ginny and her sister Amanda to make decisions that neither is prepared to do. This novel explores Asberger's Syndrome, family secrets, and becoming an adult in a lyrical portrait of a family in crisis. This selection for the September 2016 meeting of the Willa Cather Book Club should be an interesting discussion.

Jan 27, 2014

This was overall a very depressing book. The most fascinating thing about it was the way she was able to describe everything my means of food. "paprika dust" is the one that jumps to mind but there was also "orange juice voice" or his "tomato juice voice" which was a really interesting way to describe everyday things or sounds. The author is gifted in the way she is able to describe things, sounds and smells. However, it was depressing. The main artery running through the book is death and grief. Which was not what I was expecting when reading it. I thought were was going to be some magic to it and some neat family history or bonding in such a despairing time. The book was a really neat idea, cook the recipes and your family members would come to you because of the bond and the scent of the dish, but there were holes in the "magic" of it all and I wish she would have gone a different route. Possibly mystery? The sister was also awful, and refused to understand anything but her own point of view. Another point running through the book was Asperger's Syndrome which I was not expecting at all. Kind of came out of no where and it took way to long to describe what the main character was dealing with. The ideas and the different avenues that the author was taking were kind of all over the place to point where I found myself skipping paragraphs and no missing a beat of the story. Overall, I was disappointed and I hate being disappointed in books.

jdaigle3 Jan 21, 2013

I truly enjoyed this book despite the hard to believe ghost element. The receipes are actually pretty good (I tried the shortbreads). Just a really great story from the point of view of someone with Aspergers' like tendencies. It didn't belittle or make light of the difficulties and actions. Ginny was a real and pretty well rounded character. I defy you not to cheer for Ginny come the end of the book or tear up when her relationships with David and Amanda begin to break down!

Aug 16, 2012

I liked this story just as much as Starting From Scratch. The outlines of these two books have much in common. Both main characters Olivia and Ginny are in their mid twenties and they are in the process of grieving the loss of a mother and for Ginny it's both parents. They both use their love of cooking to aid them through this time of sadness.
The stories are so different in detail and daily life of the main character. Olivia is a Doctoral graduate and Ginny, although very intelligent is trying to cope with life and her grief while also needing to accept she has Asperger's syndrome.

I loved that the story was told from the point of view of someone with Asperger's syndrome. Her fascination with cooking and food causes her to view most experiences through this lens. Most of the people close to her – family and friends are known for their quality of voice. Her father with his tomato juice voice, her sister with her orange juice voice, someone else has a coffee voice.

To calm her anxiety she often thinks about food or the process of cooking such as caramelizing onions.
So often, Ginny seems like she copes well much of the time but then something sets her off like the crowds at her parents funeral or the surprising touch of a stranger. When over stimulated she seeks the inside of a closet preferably one that contains the shoes of her parents and she will sit in the closet for an hour or more with her hands stuffed in the shoes recharging her batteries!

There is a little bit of a mystery to solve and a “ghost” story – not to weird but enough to be interesting.

This is another book with recipes included that will often make you very hungry while reading so be prepared to do a little cooking after you read a few chapters!

Jul 19, 2012

Well written, intriguing story of a young woman with Asperger's grieving the loss of her parents. She comforts herself by cooking and discovers she is able to bring back the ghosts o people whose recipes she is making.

Jun 11, 2012

I enjoyed reading this book. Ginny's behaviour is misunderstood and she is considered strange by some people. Fortunately some of the people she meets have open hearts and accept her behaviour as being normal for her.
Reading this book helped me broaden my perception of what normal behaviour is, and to understand everyone is normal in their own way.

Junglequeen Jul 13, 2011

Love this book. About a introverted young 26 years old woman with Asperger's who find solace in cooking. After her parents died suddenly in a car accident, her older sister's demands to sell the house had made young Ginny retreat to the kitchen to cook, her only comfort in a life suddenly turns awry. Except in her case, she gets unexpected visitors in the kitchen. Ghosts from her family!

An interesting read and heartwarming story.

Jun 03, 2011

Review in paper sounded good, first few pages interesting - return and read later maybe


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OliviaSh Sep 05, 2011

OliviaSh thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over


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