Sunday, 14 December 2014

The Little Christmas Kitchen - Jenny Oliver

About the book...
The mince pies are cooling, the lights are twinkling, and just when you think you’re a roasted chestnut away from the perfect Christmas….along comes the new gift-wrapped treat of a book from Jenny Oliver. Enjoy!

Christmas at the Davenports’ house was always about one thing: food. But when sisters Ella and Maddy were split up, Ella to live in London with their Dad, and Maddy staying in Greece with their Mum, mince pies lost their magic.

Now, a cheating husband has thrown Ella a curved snowball…and for the first time in years, all she wants is her mum. So she heads back to Greece, where her family’s taverna holds all the promise of home. Meanwhile, waitress Maddy’s dreams of a white Christmas lead her back to London… and her Dad.

But a big fat festive life-swap isn’t as easy as it sounds! And as the sisters trade one kitchen for another, it suddenly seems that among the cinnamon, cranberries and icing sugar, their recipes for a perfect Christmas might be missing a crucial ingredient: each other. 

About the author...
Jenny Oliver wrote her first book on holiday when she was ten years old. Illustrated with cut-out supermodels from her sister’s Vogue, it was an epic, sweeping love story not so loosely based on Dynasty. 

Since then Jenny has gone on to get an English degree, a Masters, and a job in publishing that’s taught her what it takes to write a novel (without the help of the supermodels). She wrote The Parisian Christmas Bake Off on the beach in a sea-soaked, sand-covered notebook. This time the inspiration was her addiction to macaroons, the belief she can cook them and an all-consuming love of Christmas. When the decorations go up in October, that’s fine with her! Follow her on Twitter @JenOliverBooks

Blueprint for Christmas... Jenny Oliver

Every year, from about 1st November, my favourite question to ask and be asked is ‘How do you spend your Christmas?’ It’s the section in magazines that I always read first. The way traditions vary fascinates me - the fact that some people wear their pyjamas all day while others dress up in their black tie finery. Some people’s presents are all in their stockings, opened before the crack of dawn, while others hand presents to the relevant person as they sit down around the tree with a glass of sherry. (FYI, in my family we dive in with gay abandon and wear our best smart/ casual) One year my granny passed the presents out one by one and I think my sister cried. That wasn’t the way we did it! 
My french friend has oysters and champagne on Christmas Eve - buying the oysters in a box packed with ice and tied with string. They have a selection of specialist cheeses from a tiny shop that wraps them all beautifully and staples vine leaves around the box. My Russian friend doesn’t really celebrate Christmas but instead they have a huge feast at New Year that seems to go on all day and night. She thinks our NY celebrations very lame. 
In my family, as we’ve grown up, the places we’ve celebrated Christmas have changed but the traditions, as far as we’ve been able, have stayed the same. When new family members suggest otherwise there is a collective gasp of horror! It’s because, firstly none of us particularly like change and secondly, we have in our minds a perfect blueprint for Christmas. One that has barely altered since we were little and is perhaps, like I’m sure it is to many, a reminder of our family. A togetherness that existed before we all went off got jobs, flats, husbands etc. That togetherness still exists, but that blueprint is like a shortcut to get us there quicker! The downside is that if someone messes it up: turns up with a cold on the big day or suggests an alternative to the carefully mapped out plan, there’s a collective sigh. The festivities have been tainted! (There are still winces when anyone mentions the Christmas my mum made us go for a midday drink at the pub.) 
It’s a very careful balance, our Christmas. So much expectation heaped upon it, so much build up, so much thought and work, but always worth it. Always by a million miles, the very best day of the year. (Except maybe for Boxing Day - all the pressies, all the food, but you can stay in your PJs all day if you want! Actually, if you don’t stay in your PJ’s you ruin the whole day… Oh damn it, that has a blueprint too!)

Do you have a blueprint Christmas? Tweet me @JenOliverBooks and tell me all about your Christmas day. 

Come back next week for my review of this wonderful book by Jenny Oliver :)

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