Sunday 22 February 2015

The Temporary Bride by Jennifer Klinec

In her thirties, Jennifer Klinec abandons a corporate job to launch a cooking school from her London flat. Raised in Canada to Hungarian-Croatian parents, she has already travelled to countries most people are fearful of, in search of ancient recipes. Her quest leads her to Iran where, hair discreetly covered and eyes modest, she is introduced to a local woman who will teach her the secrets of the Persian kitchen.
Vahid, her son, is suspicious of the strange foreigner who turns up in his mother's kitchen; he is unused to seeing an independent woman. But a compelling attraction pulls them together and then pits them against harsh Iranian laws and customs.
Getting under the skin of one of the most complex and fascinating nations on earth, The Temporary Bride is a soaring story of being loved, being fed, and the struggle to belong.

The Temporary Bride by Jennifer Klinec was published by Virago in September 2014.

Books and food are my main loves, and anything that combines the two has to be a winner for me. to combine these with adventures in an exotic, far-away setting adds more to the allure of a book, so, for me, The Temporary Bride was impossible to resist.

Jennifer Klinec has led an unusual life. She spent much of her childhood being ignored by her wealthy parents who led busy lives. Although Jennifer wanted to spend time with her mother in the kitchen, her earliest memories are of her being chased out of the room whilst her mother prepared the meals. Her parents were not intentionally cruel, and Jennifer used their attitude to their advantage. She travelled the world, organising her own schooling and her lodgings herself, she went where she wanted to go, and these experiences shaped her and strengthened her character.

Back in London, Jennifer had a successful career in the City. Having spent time collecting recipes and trying all sorts of different foods in many different parts of the world, Jennifer decided to open a small cookery school in her little flat in London. Whilst this was a success, and her customers enjoyed learning new skills, Jennifer still had the bug. She wanted to discover more cookery methods, from places that women didn't travel to.

Iran. A country so very different to anything that Jennifer had experienced. Where women cover their heads and spend their days cooking the traditional foods. Where women wear make up and style their hair and wear fashionable clothes .... but only within the safety of their own family, and never outdoors. Iran, where the authorities and the Police can stop and question anyone, where bribery and corruption is rife. Iran, the place that Jennifer yearned to visit.

Having managed to find a family that would allow her to cook with them, Jennifer was delighted to learn about Iranian food, and culture. The son of the house, Vahid, was initially suspicious of Jennifer, he was rude and arrogant, but it becomes clear that he is also intrigued by her. Here is a woman who is independent, who is well travelled and intelligent, and is also attractive.  As Jennifer and Vahid spend more time together they grow closer, and this is where her story becomes more of an adventure.

Jennifer Klinec writes wonderfully, her love for food, her descriptions of some ingredients that should really turn the stomach are made delicious with her use of words. The reader is transported to the back streets of Iranian towns and cities, to the small family-run cafes that serve wonderfully rich and spicy food to local people.

The complexity of life in Iran is clear and fascinating, the daily struggles, especially for women are described in full, with authority and with compassion, and sometimes with exasperation and a little anger. The emerging love story between Jennifer and Vahid grows slowly, yet only takes place over four weeks.

I enjoyed The Temporary Bride, I enjoyed the writing and I enjoyed seeing and experiencing life in Iran. The culture, the towns, the fear, the ignorance and most of all, the food. Jennifer Klinec is a fine writer who has written a heart-warming and vivid story of food and of love.

My thanks to the author who sent my copy for review.

Jennifer Klinec was born and grew up in Canada in the most East European of families. Always craving autonomy and adventure, she left Canada at 16 for Europe. By the time she moved to the UK at 23 she had already lived in 5 countries and spoke 3 languages.

She opened a cooking school out of her loft apartment which Time Out named ‘The hippest, most authentic cooking school in London’ and travels to countries most people are fearful of, in search of ancient recipes and delicious things to eat.

Klinec’s work explores what it is like to be pulled into a foreign country and have your entire life flipped upside down. Through the lens of food and romance, she explores the search for belonging, the necessity of trust, and the collisions and misunderstandings between Western and Islamic cultures. She takes us behind the closed doors of Iran, one of the most contradictory and misunderstood nations on earth.

The Temporary Bride is her first book. 

For more information about the author, visit her website
Follow her on Twitter @JenniferKlinec

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