The Food of Love: Book One, Laura’s Story

Written by Prue Leith
Review by Cathy Kemp

England before the Second World War, and we follow Laura, the youngest of three siblings with two brothers each born a decade apart, and her relationship with her parents, through her formative years into adulthood. Laura’s father, Donald, dotes on his little girl, elevating her onto a pedestal and promising her (and himself) that she will enter society with all the trappings associated with a debutante. Donald holds the position of Chair of the War Agriculture Committee, which gives him the opportunity to acquire part of the poorly farmed land owned by his neighbour, Lord Frampton, thus encouraging his ambitions for moving up the social ladder. Unfortunately, hopes are dashed by the developments outside the family unit. Following her first unsatisfactory adult relationship with a Polish plumber from a German Prisoner of War camp, Laura falls in love with Giovanni, who works at a local hotel restaurant. Her father hasn’t approved of either of Laura’s choices of partner and now, with a baby out of wedlock on the way, she and Giovanni must leave the Cotswolds to set up a new life in London. Post-war London is not the welcoming destination the young couple envisaged, and life proves a challenge for them, resulting in further heart-wrenching moments.

Having not read any of Prue Leith’s previous writing, I had expected that this story would be less of a complete work and more of a history of recipes. I was therefore pleasantly surprised that the tale was well told, flowed with conviction and introduced believable characters to fulfill the expectations intimated in the title.