2E10DD66-2384-43CE-AAFA-CD60FF3F3DB7Today I have a review of Cora’s Kitchen by Kimberly Garrett Brown. A big thank you to Caitlin Hamilton Summie Marketing for sending it to me and to Angela on Goodreads for bringing it to my attention.

My Thoughts:

My friend, Angela M., on Goodreads, brought this beautiful book to my attention. Cora’s Kitchen is the story of Cora James, a Black librarian living in 1920s Harlem.

Cora sends a letter to Langston Hughes after relating to one of his poems. She wants to be writer. Langston Hughes responds, encouraging Cora not only to write but to enter a writing contest.

In helping her cousin, Agnes, Cora becomes a cook in a white family’s home, the Fitzgeralds. In that role, she finds she has more time to write. Ultimately, she forges a friendship with Mrs. Fitzgerald who gives her The Awakening to read (The Awakening is one of my very favorite books, so I loved this connection). These happenings lead to Cora penning a story she shares with Langston Hughes. The missives continue to pass back and forth, and Cora keeps writing; the process of which may cost her everything.

Cora’s story shares her perspective on being a woman, a Black woman, during this time in history. She aspires for something more, to be w writer, and as she encounters hurdles and attempts to navigate them, she keeps going. I really enjoyed the letters she shared with Hughes. Cora’s honesty and authentic voice are what grabbed me from the start of her story.

Cora’s Kitchen is a quick, but richly told read; full of emotion and heart, and one in which every woman can relate, especially if she aspires for something more for herself.

I received a gifted copy of the book.

About the Book:

It is 1928 and Cora James, a 35-year-old Black librarian who works at the 135th Street library in Harlem, writes Langston Hughes a letter after identifying with one of his poems. She even reveals her secret desire to write. Langston responds, encouraging Cora to enter a writing contest sponsored by the National Urban League, and ignites her dream of being a writer. Cora is frustrated with the writing process, and her willingness to help her cousin Agnes keep her job after she is brutally beaten by her husband lands Cora in a white woman’s kitchen working as a cook.

In the Fitzgerald home, Cora discovers she has time to write and brings her notebook to work. When she comforts Mrs. Fitzgerald after an argument with Mr. Fitzgerald, a friendship forms. Mrs. Fitzgerald insists Cora call her Eleanor and gives her The Awakening by Kate Chopin to read. Cora is inspired by the conversation to write a story and sends it to Langston. Eventually she begins to question her life and marriage and starts to write another story about a woman’s sense of self. Through a series of letters, and startling developments in her dealings with the white family, Cora’s journey to becoming a writer takes her to the brink of losing everything, including her life.

Have you read Cora’s Kitchen, or is it on your TBR? Happy Reading! ~ Jennifer THR