My Fine Fellow by Jennieke Cohen
“He’d always thought that food was a great equalizer, for whatever someone’s creed or race or religion, every person had to eat to survive.”- Jennieke Cohen, My Fine Fellow
It is 1830s England, and culinarians of utmost respect, consult with society’s elite to create gorgeous food and confections. They are the crème de la crème of high society.
Helena is top of her class at the Royal Academy and has a sharp demeanor and an even sharper palate. Penelope wants to show the value of non-European cuisine to all of England. Her peers may scorn her Filipina heritage, but with her flawless social graces and culinary talents, Penelope is set to prove them wrong. Elijah has nothing to his name but an excellent instinct for flavors. London merchants will not allow a Jewish boy to own a shop, but he knows with enough training, he can break into the highest of society.
When Penelope and Helena meet Elijah, a golden opportunity arises: to pull off a project never seen before and turn Elijah from a street vendor to a gentleman chef. But Elijah’s transformation will have a greater impact on this trio than they originally realize—and mayhem, unseemly faux pas, and a little romance will all be a part of the delicious recipe.
Food is a big part of the story, so do not read this book on an empty stomach. You will get hungry! I loved that Penelope was half Filipino, Elijah was Jewish, and that their backgrounds were a central and integral part of the story. The book explored the prejudices that both of them faced. The three main characters were all well-developed. I particularly liked seeing Helena’s character arc unfold and how her actions affected her friendships with Penelope and Elijah.
Since this is a gender-swapped retelling of the movie My Fair Lady, the story is a little predictable and straightforward. There are no big surprises. If you like reading about 1830s England, books about food or enjoyed the movie it is based on, I recommend checking this book out.