Chocolate Cake for Imaginary Lives by Genevieve Jenner | #bookreview | @gfrancie @DeixisPress @HannahHargrave8

Thanks to Hannah Hargrave for sending me Genevieve Jenner’s short story collection Chocolate Cake for Imaginary Lives. This is a book which anyone who loves food should read! It will be published by Deixis Press on 21st March in paperback and for e-readers.

About the book

“We all have imaginary lives, and if we are lucky we have a dish to go with them…”

So begins the title story of Genevieve Jenner’s debut short story collection, a ground-breaking anthology of magical realist food writing.

A Russian countess finds herself making borscht for her socialist Parisian neighbours; unknown office colleagues secretly exchange lunchtime delicacies and recipes via the work fridge; steak is cooked at midnight on a Friday to get around Catholic proscriptions; and a thrilling sexual awakening descends into a metaphor of tired sandwiches and squashed fruit.

Chocolate Cake for Imaginary Lives is a book that the sexiest celebrity chef you can think of would take to read in bed, cackling in private recognition—but not just because it’s about the role of food at the centre of our lives. It’s also about the place of women in the world, the messiness of life, and the joy of snatched moments in the midst of chaos. With a wit and frankness that combines vulnerability and strength, all wrapped up in a package of stories that speak right to the soul, Genevieve Jenner writes about real and imaginary lives with poignance and authenticity.

My Thoughts

Warning – do not read this book if you are hungry! The chapters with recipes will have you drooling – macaroni and cheese, chocolate brownies, a beef casserole, a plum tart and, of course, chocolate cake to name but a few.

This is a book which will awaken the senses. Through her writing, the author shows food is most definitely something sensual, to be enjoyed. Not just necessary physical nourishment but food for the soul too. The common ingredient in all the stories is simply food, whether it’s a meal with a lover, a family celebration, a scant meal scraped together in time of conflict or a picnic in a field.

Genevieve Jenner has written a wonderfully engaging collection of stories with a huge range of characters and situations to make you think. I always think short stories are great to dip into if you are short on time. But in this case, these are stories to be savoured.

About the Author

When Genevieve Jenner was six years old, she liked to play dress up and write stories, and she wanted to be a mermaid. She has finally accepted that being a mermaid isn’t the most secure career option, but the other two things have remained constant. Genevieve lives near Bude in North Cornwall. Find out more: https://genevievejenner.medium.com/ Twitter and Instagram: @gfrancie


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