In The Kitchen, Paperback
3.5 out of 5 (3 ratings)


At the once-splendid Imperial Hotel, chef Gabriel Lightfoot is trying to run a tight kitchen.

But his integrity and his sanity are under constant challenge from an exuberantly multinational staff, a gimlet-eyed hotel management, and business partners with whom he is planning a new venture.

Despite the pressure, his hard work looks set to pay off.

Until the discovery of a porter's dead body in the kitchen appears to tip the scales.

It is a small death, a lonely death - but it is enough to disturb the tenuous balance of Gabe's life. "In The Kitchen" is Monica Ali's stunning follow up to "Brick Lane".

It is both the portrait of a man pushed to the edge, and a wry and telling look into the melting pot which is our contemporary existence.

It confirms Monica Ali not only as a great modern storyteller but also an acute observer of the dramas of modern life.




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Showing 1 - 3 of 3 reviews.

Review by

A forty something executive chef dreams of opening his own place, marrying his singer girlfriend and raising a son. Then his Ukranian kitchen porter winds up dead in the basement of his kitchen. From this moment on Gabriel Lightfoots' life changes. Monica Ali uses the story to weave themes of gang lords, illegal trafficking, failed relationships with ourselves and others and mental health.Sometimes her writing is a little contrived and predictable especially the scenes up north where Gabe's father and grandmother lament the passing of 'britain and britishness' (whatever that was). this book was written pre credit crunch and has some interesting thoughts on the economy at the time - with hindsight this is even more interesting.a lot of the story is centred around a hotel and i thought this part was spot on - the long hours the politics the alcohol abuse. all in all a really good enjoyable read.

Review by

An interesting idea, though I felt that the execution was weak, and the novel was certainly at least a hundred pages longer than it should have been. I also found its plot to be very reminiscent of Amanda Craig's excellent "Hearts and Minds", though the latter book was far more engaging, and far more tightly plotted.Still, it was an enjoyable read.

Review by

Okay, time to be honest, I pretty much bought In the Kitchen because I remembered really liking Brick Lane. I was waiting for it to come out in paperback for so long I eventually gave in and brought it in hardback when Borders was closing down, but it’s still one of the books which has been on my To Be Read list for the longest amount of time. I did start it shortly after buying it but decided I wasn’t in the right mood for reading it, so it has sat on my TBR pile staring at me ever since. Everytime my TBR pile gets low it seems to be saying “Pick me! Pick me! You wanted me so much!” but I was never in the right mood.Well when I eventually did get around to starting it (almost a week ago now) I couldn’t understand why I didn’t feel right about it first time. There is something about the opening which showed so much promise. A bit of intrigue, a promise of something unknown to be revealed. Unfortunately things went downhill from there. Things were just so slow. That first chapter made insinuations that lots was going to happen. I didn’t really expect a fast paced, exciting, detective style novel. It’s still Monica Ali after all and if Brick Lane is anything to go by she’s not the writer of fast paced novels, preferring the gradual reveal. However while I remember Brick Lane having so fantastic descriptions and a great insight to life as an Asian migrant in Britain I didn’t find any such interest in In The Kitchen. While there was the element of a revealing of life as an Eastern European migrant it wasn’t as deep as the insight had been in Brick Lane and didn’t hold so much interest for me.Really it wasn’t a story about Eastern Europeans, or about a kitchen. It wasn’t a story about a death. It wasn’t a story about a woman. No it was really a story about Gabriel, and, to be perfectly honest I didn’t like Gabriel. I have no particular reason to not like Gabriel, I just didn’t, and really I didn’t care about what happened to him. I think if I had cared about Gabriel I would have liked the story, so it’s really a shame I didn’t. In the Kitchen was slow going but it was all about the gradual reveal, the journey to a climatic end. By then I was a little interested, and if I liked Gabriel I might have ended up liking the whole book, such a shame.Maybe this review is a bit biased. I can see how good Monica Ali’s writing is. I can see how clever she is with her little clues of what will happen to Gabriel, how she uses the journey to a climax with great success. I really wish I could have loved this book, but in the end the journey was just too long for me.

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