Hungry by Grace Dent shares many thematic similarities with A Half-Baked Idea by Olivia Potts in that they are both memoirs about the joys of food, starting out in competitive careers in London and difficult family circumstances. While Potts’ memoir detailed her enrolment on the Cordon Bleu culinary school patisserie course after deciding not to pursue a career as a barrister following her mother’s unexpected death, Dent’s is about the childhood nostalgia of cheap beige comfort food in the 1980s, finding her feet as a journalist in her 2os and her father’s health problems including vascular dementia. Continue reading
Tag Archives: Food
I will be taking a short break from blogging in December while I sort out moving to my new flat but I have been to two great book events this month to take my mind off some of the stress. Rebecca at Bookish Beck has been on a roll winning free tickets on Twitter recently and after our trip to see Wise Children at the theatre last month, we went to see Barbara Kingsolver in conversation with Samira Ahmed at the Royal Festival Hall in London a couple of weeks ago where we also met up with Laura from our Wellcome Book Prize shadow panel. Continue reading
‘The Wonder’ by Emma Donoghue tells the story of Lib Wright, a widowed English nurse who trained under Florence Nightingale during the Crimean war. She is sent to a rural village in Ireland to independently observe Anna O’Donnell, an eleven-year-old girl whose parents claim has not eaten any solid food for four months, subsisting purely on “manna from heaven” and a few teaspoons of water a day. While the community accepts this claim without questioning it and visitors travel from afar to witness the miracle, Lib is immediately sceptical and expects the medical surveillance to be over in a couple of days once the fraud has been exposed. She alternates her shifts with a local nun Sister Michael and considers every possible way food could have been secretly smuggled to Anna. However, as more time passes, Lib starts to doubt her own beliefs and realises that there is more to Anna’s case than meets the eye.
I really enjoyed Ruth Ozeki’s third novel A Tale for the Time Being which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2013 and her debut My Year of Meats. Almost two years later, I finally got round to reading her second novel ‘All Over Creation’. Japanese-American Yumi Fuller (or Yummy as most of the characters call her) returns to Liberty Falls, Idaho for the first time since she ran away from home as a fourteen-year-old in 1974. Her elderly parents run a business selling seeds having retired from potato farming several years ago and a group of eco-activists who call themselves the Seeds of Revolution have descended on their home. Meanwhile, her former teacher Elliot Rhodes is now working as a public relations manager for a company producing genetically modified Nu-Life potatoes which the Fuller’s neighbours are using on their farm. Continue reading
I really enjoyed ‘A Tale for the Time Being‘ by Ruth Ozeki which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize last year. I was lucky enough to get my copy of her debut novel ‘My Year of Meats’ (or ‘My Year of Meat’ in some older editions) signed at the shortlist readings event at the Southbank Centre in October and this week, I finally got around to reading it. Originally published in 1998, it tells the story of Jane Takagi-Little, a Japanese-American journalist and documentary film-maker who is producing a series called ‘My American Wife’ for Japanese television. Sponsored by BEEF-EX to promote American beef in Japan, the aim of the programme is to promote a “wholesome” image of America. However, as Jane travels across the United States searching for suitable families to participate in the series, she becomes more alarmed by the methods of meat production and plans to expose them in the programme. Meanwhile, the story also follows Akiko, a Japanese housewife married to Jane’s abusive boss, and eventually their lives converge. Continue reading
‘Big Brother’ by Lionel Shriver tells the story of Pandora Halfdanarson and her relationship with her brother, Edison, a jazz musician who is coming to visit her in Iowa where she lives with her husband and two teenage stepchildren. On arrival, Pandora is horrified to discover that Edison has become morbidly obese in the time since she last saw him four years ago and has to decide whether or not she will take matters into her own hands.
Some of you may remember that one of the few books I never finished was ‘Everything is Illuminated’ by Jonathan Safran Foer. I gave up after about 60 pages when I realised that I could neither appreciate nor even understand what on earth was going on. Happily, ‘Eating Animals’, a non-fiction work by the same author about, well, eating animals, is infinitely more readable despite its rather gruesome content. Continue reading