Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Kale to the Queen (A Kensington Palace Chef Mystery #1) by Nell Hampton

Kale to the Queen (A Kensington Palace Chef Mystery) by Nell Hampton
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books (April 11, 2017)
Rating: 0 out of 5 stars

This was the first book of the year for me. I have decided for 2017 that I am going to try and read 100 New to Me Books, meaning I haven't read the books before. Which is honestly very hard for me. I have certain books that are comfort books in a way that I reread all the time, some even once a year.

To get started, I really do enjoy cozy mysteries, with their punny titles and niche subjects. One of my favorite cozy mystery series is The Tea Shop Mystery by Laura Childs. I mean, who doesn't enjoy tea, murder and Southern hospitality?

I say this because I have no idea how this book got published. The kindest thing I could say was this must be the author's first novel. It feels like very little effort or research was actually put into the book. I know I was reading an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy), but there were not just mistakes on who had said what at times, but things that wouldn't be said, or accepted from a British viewpoint at times. This review will contain spoilers, because I am compelled to point out what really irritates me about this book.

For example, the author has a lot of characters "correcting" the main character, Carrie Ann Cole, about how it isn't called the subway, it's the tube. London is a large international city, a lot of American television is imported to the U.K., trust me, they know what subway means to an American. Would the character be corrected? Sure, there might be a person or two to correct the chef, but not every single person she says subway to, not even in the palace. I think even more so, since the lines she is most likely to have been on would have been sub-surface lines, and not actually a tube line. Especially since the character of household manager, Mrs. Worth would know the distinction. My question would be why wasn't a car arranged to pick up Carrie Ann Cole from the airport? Obviously they were expecting her, since Mrs. Worth claims she's late. And how can you not be able to get a cab from any of London's airports? The book doesn't specify which one the main character lands at; Gatwick, Heathrow, or Stansted, being most likely, they are always busy, but they always have cabs, and in this day there's Uber which works in London.

And the author really should either take a class on tea, or do better research. While Carrie Ann is talking with Penelope "Penny" Nethercott, the personal secretary to the Duchess of Cambridge in this story, she makes tea. She uses tea leaves, she uses a tea ball, she uses a tea cozy, she never takes the tea ball out again, which would eventually make the tea bitter. She also uses cream. No one puts cream in their tea. After all the irritating correctness of subway vs. tube this really got my hackles up. There is a tea, called cream tea, but it has nothing to do with putting cream in one's tea. No one does this. I'm pretty sure if you asked any British person if they wanted cream in their tea they'd be disgusted, it'd be a politely disgusted, but still disgusted. One puts milk into tea, not cream. This mistake is repeated throughout the story. The author also has the stereotype of everyone boiling a kettle on the stove/hob, no one does that. It takes longer and wastes gas, an electric kettle is much more efficient.

I think I find this book especially offense because I am British-American, and the author throws all the typical American tropes into the story, without getting any of the British ones right. I would tell the author, Ms. Hampton, that if she was to write another book in the series, she needs to actually visit the places she is writing about first. Go to London, go to Kensinton Palace, she doesn't need to take a behind-the-scenes tour of the palace's kitchen, but look at the actual expanse of the palace grounds and realize there is no way a chef could get through the palace and across the grounds and find a corner shop, or grocery store, or supermarket, and be back in ten minutes. It isn't happening. Even doing some research on Google Maps could have helped with that. The idea that Carrie Ann could have a separate washer and dryer, in her bathroom is ridiculous. Most machines in the UK are washer dryer combos, meaning one machine does both the washing and the drying. The dryer part a condenser dryer, done with heated water going around the outside of the tumbler. It takes a long time for anything to dry, and is very frustrating in my opinion if you are used to a tumble dryer that uses heated air, like they do in the States. Which is probably why so many people just hang their clothes out to dry, even if it's raining, because it'll probably be quicker, especially if you have other clothes you want to wash.

Besides terminology abuse the author misplaces characters, e.g. Michael Haregrove's Mother is mentioned in Chapter 3 as living alone in a nursing home, which is actually called a care home with nursing in the U.K., but later in Chapter 7 his Mother and Father are retired and living in the countryside with his grandparents, it also mentions that he has a brother and three sisters. Now, they could be living in a nursing home in the countryside but I doubt they are living in a nursing home in the countryside with his grandparents. Then in Chapter 10 Carrie Ann Cole is surprised to meet Rosemary, Michael Haregrove's sister, because, "I didn't know he had family other than his mother." Perhaps the author originally intended to have Mr. Haregrove only have a mother, but found that she needed the sister character for her story, but then she left drips and drabs of family for Mr. Haregrove all over the story, and never tidied up her lose ends. They are things I would have expected her editor to catch. Rosemary has arrived in London to "look after Mum." Why? She's either in a nursing home, according to Chapter 3, or living in the countryside, according to Chapter 7. Just to make it even more confusing later in Chapter 11 Carrie Ann asks Michael if he has lived here long, "My parents bought it in the fifties," he said. Mum loved the wall paper in the hall. Ever since she went into the nursing home three years ago, I can't bring myself to take it down." So Carrie Ann asks if his father sill lives in the house, but she should know he's in the countryside from Chapter 7, and Michael says, "No, he lives out in the country now with his new wife." Now, the new wife could be the one that Michael references in Chapter 7 as his Mum, but Carrie Ann wouldn't know that, and as a reader the audience couldn't know that either. It confuses the issue of exactly where is Michael's Mother.

There are other times when Michael Haregrove and Frank Deems are called by each others names.

Honestly, if I hadn't gotten the book from NetGalley I would have quit reading this story in the first few chapters. Even for an ARC there were far too many mistakes that it made the story unenjoyable.

Currently watching: iZombie: The Complete First Season
This really is a clever show.

Currently reading: Prodigy (Legend #2) by Marie Lu
My review for the first book should be coming up!

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