What She Ate by Laura Shapiro

  • Title:  What She Ate: Six Remarkable Women and the Food that Tells Their Stories
  • Author:  Laura Shapiro
  • Genre:  Nonfiction
  • Pages:  320
  • Published:  July 2017 – Viking
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  Everyone eats, and food touches on every aspect of our lives—social and cultural, personal and political. Yet most biographers pay little attention to people’s attitudes toward food, as if the great and notable never bothered to think about what was on the plate in front of them. Once we ask how somebody relates to food, we find a whole world of different and provocative ways to understand her. Food stories can be as intimate and revealing as stories of love, work, or coming-of-age. Each of the six women in this entertaining group portrait was famous in her time, and most are still famous in ours; but until now, nobody has told their lives from the point of view of the kitchen and the table. 

It’s a lively and unpredictable array of women; what they have in common with one another (and us) is a powerful relationship with food. They include Dorothy Wordsworth, whose food story transforms our picture of the life she shared with her famous poet brother; Rosa Lewis, the Edwardian-era Cockney caterer who cooked her way up the social ladder; Eleanor Roosevelt,  First Lady and rigorous protector of the worst cook in White House history; Eva Braun, Hitler’s mistress, who challenges our warm associations of food, family, and table; Barbara Pym, whose witty books upend a host of stereotypes about postwar British cuisine; and Helen Gurley Brown, the editor of Cosmopolitan, whose commitment to “having it all” meant having almost nothing on the plate except a supersized portion of diet gelatin. (publisher)

My take:  What She Ate is an interesting book that, in the end, made me examine (and appreciate) my own food story. Of the six stories, two stood out for me. Shapiro introduced me to author Barbara Pym. Upon finishing her story I placed a couple of her novels on my TBR list. I’m not sure why she wasn’t there before! Equally interesting and more entertaining was Eleanor Roosevelt’s chapter. I’m always intrigued when I hear about people who treat food only as fuel and not a source of enjoyment. I loved learning about the food served at the White House during her husband’s presidency. All in all, I found What She Ate to be a worthwhile read and recommend it to fans of culinary biographies.


Praise for What She Ate:

Recommended Summer Reading
by ELLE, Bon Appétit, and Eater.

 

“A unique and delectable work that sheds new light on the lives of women, food, and men. .”—Kirkus Reviews

 

“…six crisply written, ardently researched, and entertainingly revelatory portraits of very different women with complicated relationships with eating and cooking…. A bounteous and elegant feast for hungry minds.”BookList, Starred Review

“Establishes Laura Shapiro as the founder of a delectable new literary genre: the culinary biography.”—Megan Marshall, Pulitzer-prize winning biographer

 

“The idea that eating habits reveal aspects of character is ever-intriguing, and it’s presented here with charm and insight.”—Mimi Sheraton, former restaurant critic for the New York Times and author of 1000 Foods to Eat Before You Die
 
“Laura Shapiro has done it again! She’s given us a fascinating and wonderfully entertaining history of six women of the last two centuries you might never have thought of as foodies, yet here they are, distinguished by how differently they dealt with the overwhelming importance of food in their lives.”—Marion Nestle, author of Soda Politics


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Laura Shapiro has written on every food topic from champagne to Jell-O for The New York TimesThe New YorkerThe AtlanticSlateGourmet, and many other publications. She is the author of three classic books of culinary history. Her awards include a James Beard Journalism Award and one from the National Women’s Political Caucus. She has been a fellow at the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library, where she also co-curated the widely acclaimed exhibition Lunch Hour NYC.


 

Silver Threads by Bette Lee Crosby

  • Title:  Silver Threads
  • Series:  Memory House #5
  • Author:  Bette Lee Crosby
  • Genre:  Fiction
  • Pages:  248
  • Published:  September 2016 – Bent Pine Publishing
  • Source:  Author

Description:  On the day Jennifer Green was born a pile of stones was placed alongside her scale of life…

A few were the dark gray of sorrow, but most were a pale blush color. The largest stone was the rose hue of a sunrise. That one would be placed on the scale the day she married Drew Bishop. Even more brilliant but a wee bit smaller was the pink stone glistening with specs of silver. That one would bring Jennifer a baby girl named Brooke.

The Keeper of the Scale smiled. Seeing such happiness laid out before him was pleasing to his eye.

Since the beginning of time, he and he alone has been challenged with the task of keeping each person’s scale in balance. A bit of happiness and then a small stone of sorrow, until the lives he has in his charge are measured evenly.

You might think such power is universal, but it is not. There are silver threads that crisscross the landscape of scales and connect strangers to one another. Not even the Keeper of the Scale can control the events traveling through those threads; the only thing he can do is try to equalize the balance once it has been thrown off. There is nothing more he can do for Jennifer; now he must find the thread that leads to Drew if he is to have the love he deserves.  (publisher)

My take:  When the author contacted me to read Silver Threads I wasn’t sure I should since it’s the 5th book in a series but she assured me it could stand alone. I would have to agree with Bette Lee Crosby.  Although context would enhance the experience of reading the novel I didn’t feel lost.

This is the story of Drew and Brooke, father and daughter, who find their life turned upside down when the unthinkable happens. Their life, through no fault of their own, changes overnight and they are left to move forward when they have no idea how. But they do, one step at a time. They continue to face challenges that most people would consider “worst nightmare” scenarios. They survive with hope of someday thriving in a way they used to take for granted.

Silver Threads reminded me of a fairy tale where evil lurks around some corners but good will ultimately prevail. I enjoyed Bette Lee Crosby’s story and recommend it to fans of novels with a hint of magic.


About Bette Lee Crosby

USA Today Bestselling and Award-winning novelist Bette Lee Crosby’s books are “Well-crafted storytelling populated by memorable characters caught up in equally memorable circumstances.” – Midwest Book Review

The Seattle Post Intelligencer says Crosby’s writing is, “A quirky mix of Southern flair, serious thoughts about important things in life and madcap adventures.”

Samantha from Reader’s Favorite raves, “Crosby writes the type of book you can’t stop thinking about long after you put it down.”

“Storytelling is in my blood,” Crosby laughingly admits, “My mom was not a writer, but she was a captivating storyteller, so I find myself using bits and pieces of her voice in most everything I write.”

It is the wit and wisdom of that Southern Mama Crosby brings to her works of fiction; the result is a delightful blend of humor, mystery and romance along with a cast of quirky charters who will steal your heart away. Her work was first recognized in 2006 when she received The National League of American Pen Women Award for a then unpublished manuscript. She has since gone on to win nineteen awards for her work; these include: The Royal Palm Literary Award, the FPA President’s Book Award Gold Medal, Reader’s Favorite Award Gold Medal, and the Reviewer’s Choice Award.

Crosby’s published works to date are: Silver Threads (2016), The Regrets of Cyrus Dodd (2016), Baby Girl (2016), What the Heart Remembers (2015), The Loft (2015), Memory House (2015), Passing through Perfect (2015), Wishing for Wonderful (2014), Blueberry Hill (2014), Previously Loved Treasures (2014), Jubilee’s Journey (2013), What Matters Most (2013), The Twelfth Child (2012), Life in the Land of IS (2012), Cracks in the Sidewalk (2011), Spare Change (2011).

For more information please visit Bette Lee Crosby’s website