Oh Goodreads how I love you. They have been very good to me this year. Elza's Kitchen by Marc Fitten is another Goodreads win. Hooray!
Elza is a chef with a successful restaurant in Delibab, Hungary. But she's not happy. In fact, she's having a bit of a mid-life crisis.
Elza has been carrying on a long-term affair with her sous chef that is going nowhere. She doesn't love him, she just likes his company. He however, views things more seriously. So much so that he has proposed numerous times over their three year relationship.
She also feels that maybe her menu has gone stale...the dishes are too boring and predictable. She wants something more.
And so Elza ends the relationship with the sous chef and starts to think about new dishes. She contacts her old culinary professors to see about getting a cuisine writer to come and visit her restaurant. She wants a chance to be featured and to be in the running for the Silver Ladle.
It took me a little while to really get interested in this book. The plot took some time to really get started. Overall, I think the book had great promise. But it took a couple of turns that made it less intriguing to me. Elza's restaurant is plagued by a band of gypsy children who pound on the windows and beg for food. An entire side plot develops with them and, in my opinion, detracts from the story. Had it been completely left out, I would've been a happier reader. There were also a few opportunities that were not taken to expand the plot. I can't say what they are with out ruining the book, but I think it's probably fairly obvious for the average reader.
I liked the book, but it wasn't my favorite. I think it had some great moments, but they weren't seized. Instead the plot got pushed along, ignoring things that could've made the book more endearing or more enthralling. There were times where I felt I was just being pulled along like I was browsing in a store that was closing. Hurry, hurry...look at this and then let's move on. With a little more time and care this could've been a wonderful book.
In the end, I wound up rating Elza's Kitchen with 3 out of 5 stars.