I had read Monica Ali’s Brick Lane, some years ago and had loved it. When I chanced upon this book, I grabbed it.
In the Kitchen starts off in a smart London restaurant, which is run by Gabriel(Gabe) Lightfoot, managing his kitchen workers from all over the world. Gabriel is hoping to open his own restaurant and has a steady girlfriend, Charlie, settled life, more-or-less.
His life is turned upside down with the discovery of a death of a porter in the basement of the restaurant and with the appearance of Lena, a mysterious immigrant from Europe. Gabe also learns that his father is suffering from cancer and his grandmother, from dementia. The book is mainly about Gabriel and his reaction to the deal that life dealt him.
The book touches upon multiculturalism in Britain, the various underlying emotions, related to immigration that seem to plague most of the characters using the restaurant kitchen as an interesting setting. After Brick lane, I think my expectations were rather high, and sadly the book, kind of, fell flat -for me. The characters did not appeal, their motives felt rather flimsy, and make believe, although I did enjoy the part where Gabe went up north to his childhood home.. His Nana was one of the few vibrant characters in the book.
It was a book that I struggled to read. There was something definitely missing about the book. It was a book with too many things, and they just did not work well together. All in all, a disappointing read. Especially after Brick lane.