Reviews of My Fine Fellow by Jennieke Cohen

My Fine Fellow

by Jennieke Cohen

My Fine Fellow by Jennieke Cohen X
My Fine Fellow by Jennieke Cohen
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Published:
    Jan 2022, 352 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Norah Piehl
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Book Summary

Culinary delights abound, romance lingers in the air, and plans go terribly, wonderfully astray in this gender-bent take on My Fair Lady from Jennieke Cohen, author of Dangerous Alliance - perfect for fans of Bridgerton or A Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue.

It's 1830s England, and Culinarians—doyens who consult with society's elite to create gorgeous food and confections—are the crème de la crème of high society.

Helena Higgins, top of her class at the Royal Academy, has a sharp demeanor and an even sharper palate—and knows stardom awaits her if she can produce greatness in her final year.

Penelope Pickering is going to prove the value of non-European cuisine to all of England. Her contemporaries may scorn her Filipina heritage and her dishes, but with her flawless social graces and culinary talents, Penelope is set to prove them wrong.

Elijah Little has nothing to his name but a truly excellent instinct for flavors. London merchants won't allow a Jewish boy to own a shop, so he hawks his pasties for a shilling a piece to passersby—but he knows with training he can break into the highest echelon 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.

One
Why Can't the English Learn?

In the year 1833 of the Common Era, a fair ten years since King George IV died and his much beloved daughter, Princess Charlotte, succeeded him as Queen Charlotte of England, Ireland, Hanover, and so on and so forth, one Miss Penelope Pickering stood in the shadowed portico of St. Paul's London, wondering how much longer she'd have to wait for her dear friend Helena Higgins.

Of course, as even Penelope would admit if pressed, Helena had never been what one might call the epitome of charm. Nor would one characterize her as a lady of grace, for her sharp tongue offended nearly everyone she met. She was, however, well on her way to becoming the foremost authority of their generation on the culinary arts in Britain, and therefore considered herself entitled to tell people when they harbored incorrect assumptions about Culinaria, or indeed the world. And, to be quite honest, Helena was very often right. Most of Helena's schoolmates found this trait ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

My Fine Fellow will absolutely be enjoyed by readers whether or not they've seen the Lerner and Loewe musical by which it's inspired; certainly fans of My Fair Lady will appreciate spotting the references Cohen cleverly sprinkles into her prose, but they're hardly essential. More at the heart of the novel is a celebration of food and cooking, and of the ways in which food can connect us to our personal heritage and also open up the whole world. Fans of The Great British Bake Off or similar cooking competition shows will find much to love here...continued

Full Review Members Only (622 words).

(Reviewed by Norah Piehl).

Media Reviews

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Cohen seamlessly weaves historical facts about England's Jewish communities throughout her novel, and readers will connect to both Penelope's and Elijah's desires to remain true to themselves in a world that would prefer them to stay on the margins. A compelling novel that showcases the diversity of 19th-century England.

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Filled with delectable dishes and an inclusive cast, Cohen's gender-bent My Fair Lady retelling centers a cooking competition in 1830s London...Weaving the original source material with relevant social commentary, Cohen creates memorable characters struggling to find their place in a prejudicial world, while alternating viewpoints add depth to the backdrop of this historical culinary treat.

Booklist
Contemporary fans of the Austen novels and their screen adaptations will relish this rousing, late Georgian romance.

Author Blurb Jacqueline Firkins, author of Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things and How Not to Fall in Love
A delightful celebration of history, heritage, and haute cuisine that pays tribute to George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion while telling an entirely original tale. I think it would leave Shaw smiling. And also very, very hungry.

Author Blurb Rachel Lynn Solomon, author of Today Tonight Tomorrow
A charming historical romp and fitting tribute to My Fair Lady. With pitch-perfect prose and a sly, observant voice, Jennieke Cohen serves up a spectacularly unique rom-com confection. I absolutely loved it!

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book

The Influence of Pygmalion in Art and Entertainment

Painting of Pygmalion by Edward Burne-Jones Tracing Jennieke Cohen's My Fine Fellow and its influences through time offers a fascinating thread stretching back all the way to the ancient Greeks.

Cohen's novel is a playful reworking of the musical My Fair Lady, about a snobbish English professor determined to make over a Cockney flower seller. The musical was written by composer Frederick Loewe and lyricist Alan Jay Lerner and had its premiere on Broadway in 1956, with a young Julie Andrews in the role of Eliza Doolittle. Just a few years later, in 1964, the wildly successful musical was adapted for the big screen, with Audrey Hepburn in the title role. The film won eight Oscars and was, at the time, the highest-grossing Warner Brothers film ever.

Lerner and Loewe (who also ...

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