MaggiesKitchen Australian Book

Maggie’s Kitchen Australian & New Zealand Edition

ISBN 978-1-76029-304-8
allen & unwin Caroline Beecham

Maggie’s Kitchen

Maggie’s Kitchen is a heartwarming story of finding bravery in the most unlikely of places.

‘In Maggie’s Kitchen, Caroline Beecham presents the touching story of Maggie Johnson while highlighting in intricate detail the tumultuous and precarious times of WWII in London; from food rationing to life underground following raids, the enormous loss of life to the uncertainty of the future . . . Despite its setting against a backdrop of war, Maggie’s Kitchen is a tale of love, courage, and the restorative power of food.’

AusRom Today

When the Ministry of Food urgently calls for the opening of British Restaurants to feed tired and hungry Londoners during the Second World War, Maggie Johnson is close to realising a long-held dream.

 

But after struggling through government red-tape and triumphantly opening its doors, Maggie’s Kitchen soon encounters a most unexpected problem. Her restaurant has become so popular with London’s exhausted workers, that Maggie simply can’t get enough supplies to keep up with demand for food, without breaking some of the rules.

 

With the support of locals, and the help of twelve-year-old Robbie, a street urchin, and Janek, a Polish refugee dreaming of returning to his native land, the resourceful Maggie evades the first threats of closure from the Ministry. As she fights to keep her beloved Kitchen open, Maggie also tries desperately to reunite Robbie with his missing father as well as manage her own family’s expectations. Until she can no longer ignore the unacknowledged hopes of her own heart, and the discovery that some secrets have the power to change everything.

maggies kitchen uk cover

Maggie’s Kitchen UK Edition

ISBN 978-1-78-503534-0
Ebury Press maggies kitchen

Find out more

Details about the Ministry of Food’s British Restaurants and background to the novel here

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Source: Ministry of Food War Cookery Leaflet

Inspiration

REAL STORIES AND THE HOME FRONT

While there are numerous books, films and TV programs on men and machines from the Second World War, I came across so many interesting stories about women and life on the Home Front that hadn’t been told.

 

 

I was intrigued to learn about these British Restaurants and knew there was a story there, although my first thought was that it would be too difficult; how would you approach writing about people living on rations and make it sound appealing? It was the experience working in my parent’s restaurants growing up that gave me the answer; you become like a family, working as a team, building relationships with regulars, dealing with daily dramas—even when it’s not wartime!

 

You become part of a community and I realised that it was through this microcosm that Maggie’s story could be told.

WAR COOKERY FOOD LEAFLET

It was great to be able to include quotes and recipes from the Ministry of Food in the novel, although I did have to keep a check on the food descriptions; it didn’t seem appropriate to give mouth-watering accounts of the food. The research took a long time as I read other fiction and non-fiction books set in or about the era, trawled the National Archives in London and visited Islington where the novel is set.

 

Recreating the original recipes was also time-consuming as they all had to be cooked and I wanted to make sure that they had all been tasted and tested, so I’m very grateful for the help of friends and family, and of course some adjustments were made—there’s no powdered egg or dripping!

maggies kitchen menu

Source: Ministry of Food War Cookery Leaflet

war recipes maggies kitchen

Source: Pinterest

MAGGIE AND COMFORT FOOD

For many of us there’s a strong link between food and comfort, and Maggie’s character formed really quickly, motivated by the desire to provide this most basic need for her community during difficult times. The simple act of cooking is also nurturing for her; even when she is trapped underground in the air raid shelter she is:

‘rubbing the sodden dirt between her fingertips, feeling the same cold coarse texture as if she were simply making breadcrumbs for shortbread or the topping for a fresh fruit crumble.’ And again, later on: By the time she was at home in her kitchen and had taken the potatoes from her pockets and washed them, she was beginning to feel more settled, soothed by the restorative act of cooking.’