My novel, ‘Maggie’s Kitchen’, is inspired by real events from the Second World War and the British Restaurants that the Ministry of Food established to help overcome the food shortages.
Working in family restaurants growing up showed me how strong a restaurant community can be and the close relationships that can develop between customers, staff and locals; I imagined how this must have been even more pronounced during wartime.
In the novel, Maggie’s restaurant becomes an antidote to the turmoil of the times and she plays an important role in nurturing the community while she struggles with her own grief. Initially I thought it would be problematic writing a novel about a restaurant during wartime given the difficulties with food supply but then I realized that was an important part of the story. Also, what could be more important than providing people with their basic need and how even more pronounced this would be when life was so precious and resources scarce? We know the restorative power of food in nurturing our senses, giving comfort, and being the focus of our celebrations as well as providing the right nutrition; for Maggie, offering food was her way of making a difference and helping Robbie and Janek as well as the wider community.