Georgia's Kitchen Book Cover

Trade Paperback, 336 pages
ISBN-10: 1439173338
ISBN-13: 9781439173336

Gallery Readers Group Guide

Georgia’s Kitchen
Jenny Nelson

Introduction

Georgia Gray’s life seems close to perfect; she’s head chef at a trendy New York restaurant, recently engaged to her handsome lawyer boyfriend, and on the verge of getting a career-making three-fork review from one of the city’s toughest critics. But when her sleazy boss makes a disastrous decision, Georgia finds herself trying to hang on to her credibility as a chef while her personal life crumbles.

Suddenly unemployed and unengaged, Georgia picks herself up, packs her bags, and moves to Tuscany, where she helps her mentor, a renowned chef, open a new trattoria. The breathtaking scenery and delectable food help clear her head, the success of Trattoria Dia -rebuilds her confidence, and romance with a sexy vineyard owner helps heal her heart. But Georgia realizes she can’t stay in Italy forever, and when the summer ends, she returns home to the city she loves, determined to make good on her dream and open her very own restaurant.

Questions and Topics for Discussion

1.) The novel begins and ends in New York, yet Georgia has been on “a long journey with more twists and kinks than her hair after a hot summer day at the beach.” (p. 172) Compare the early version of Georgia with the woman she is by the end of the novel. Do you feel she has changed? In what ways?

2.) After Georgia confronts Glenn about his cocaine use, he leaves her, first temporarily, and then for good. What might have happened if he hadn’t broken up with her? Would she have left him?

3.) At Georgia’s urging, Glenn quits doing coke and cleans up his act. While she is clearly the catalyst for his change, a drug-free Glenn decides that he doesn’t want to marry her. Have you ever helped someone through a difficult time only to find that your relationship suffered or changed as a result?

4.) Georgia’s best friend Clem says, “. . . no one knows what will make them truly happy until they find it.” (p. 100) Do you agree with this statement? Support your argument using other characters from the novel, or even examples from your own life.

5.) Though we never meet Grammy, she is an important character in the novel and, in many ways, Georgia’s role model. Discuss -Georgia’s relationship with Grammy versus her relationship with Dorothy. Is a grandmother-granddaughter relationship sometimes easier to navigate than a mother-daughter relationship? Why or why not?

6.) Dorothy and Georgia’s relationship isn’t an easy one, to say the least. From what do you think the tension stems? Are Dorothy’s expectations for her daughter fair? Do they take into account the kind of person Georgia is or the kind of person Dorothy wishes Georgia were? Conversely, is Georgia too hard on Dorothy? Does she expect too much from her mother?

7.) According to Georgia, neither Clem nor Lo will ever “get what it felt like to grow up in a household where you were a third wheel to your parents” (p. 99) the way that Georgia does. “Her parents were like two teenagers in love, even after almost thirty-five years of marriage.” (p. 50) How does her parents’ tight relationship affect Georgia? How does it shape her relationships with men? Has your parents’ relationship had an impact on your own relationships?

8.) When Georgia first meets Sergio, he says, “We used to care more about family. Friends. Life. Now we care about success. Money.” (p. 126) How true do you find this statement? How true is it in regard to Claudia? In regard to the other characters in the book?

9.) Claudia tells Georgia to “Stop looking for what you don’t have, and start seeing what you do.” (p. 151) Do you think Georgia has learned how to do this by the end of the book? Is this something that people often forget to do in their daily lives? Can you think of an instance where that advice helped (or could have helped) you?

10.) Georgia’s Kitchen has a cast of strong, supporting female characters. Think about all the different women who influence Georgia’s life. What does Georgia learn from each of these women at various points throughout the novel? What do you think they learn from her? Think about the women who play important roles in your own life. What have you learned from them?

11.) Georgia has three significant romances over the course of the book: Glenn, Gianni, and Andrew. Discuss the impact each relationship, and each man, has on her and the choices she makes. Which of these men do you think is best suited for Georgia?

12.) The title of the novel is Georgia’s Kitchen. Discuss the significance in relation to the story. What does Georgia learn in the kitchen? Out of the kitchen? Why is it so important for her to have her own kitchen in her own restaurant?

13.) Perhaps the most important lesson Georgia learns is that while “it’s okay to be alone . . . it’s okay to ask for help.” (p. 254) Do you think she would have succeeded in opening Nana’s Kitchen without Bernard as her partner? Is her success any less meaningful because she shares it with Bernard? Have you ever had to choose between doing something on your own or asking for help in your own life?

14.) At the end of the novel, Georgia reflects that even without a husband or a baby “. . . she was exactly where she wanted to be. Right there at Nana’s Kitchen.” (p. 319) Does Georgia’s happiness resonate with you? Does working hard to achieve a goal make the end result more meaningful? Is there something you’ve worked hard to accomplish in your own life that made you feel the way Georgia does about Nana’s Kitchen?

Enhance your Book club

1.) Georgia is determined to create Trattoria Dia’s signature dish and, with a little help from Bruno, she succeeds. Have a book club banquet by asking each member to create their own signature dish and bring it to the gathering.

2.) Tuscany and Sicily are important settings in Georgia’s Kitchen. Have each member do some research on either place and share what they discover with the group.

3.) If Georgia’s Kitchen were made into a movie, whom would you cast?