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Friday, July 9, 2010

Keeping the Feast...Review

About the book:
A story of food and love, injury and healing, Keeping the Feast is the triumphant memoir of one couple's nourishment and restoration in Italy after a period of tragedy, and the extraordinary sustaining powers of food, family, and friendship.

Paula and John met in Italy, fell in love, and four years later, married in Rome. But less than a month after the wedding, tragedy struck. They had transferred from their Italian paradise to Warsaw and while reporting on an uprising in Romania, John was shot and nearly killed by sniper fire. Although he recovered from his physical wounds in less than a year, the process of healing had just begun. Unable to regain his equilibrium, he sank into a deep sadness that reverberated throughout their relationship. It was the abrupt end of what they'd known together, and the beginning of a new phase of life neither had planned for. All of a sudden, Paula was forced to reexamine her marriage, her husband, and herself.

Paula began to reconsider all of her previous assumptions about healing. She discovered that sometimes patience can be a vice, anger a virtue. That sometimes it is vital to make demands of the sick, that they show signs of getting better. And she rediscovered the importance of the most fundamental of human rituals: the daily sharing of food around the family table.

A universal story of hope and healing, Keeping the Feast is an account of one couple's triumph over tragedy and illness, and a celebration of the simple rituals of life, even during the worst life crises. Beautifully written and tremendously moving, Paula's story is a testament to the extraordinary sustaining powers of food and love, and to the stubborn belief that there is always an afterward, there is always hope. 

This is another one of those books where the review doesn't come easily, but the story stays with you. Paula Butterini and John Tagliabue were recently married journalists living abroad when tragedy struck and John was shot in Romania.  Prone to depression in the past, John settled into a deep depression following the shooting.  Keeping the Feast is the story of their experience with getting him healthy again.  Having lived in Rome and having a deep love of Italy, due to the Italian heritage they both shared, Paula and John returned to Rome in an effort to find comfort and healing.

The feast part of this story comes from her focus on cooking. Shopping for the day's food and cooking those meals were the two things that helped keep her grounded as she struggled with the day to day unknowns.

This is very much Paula's story and how she reacted to John's life changing experiences.  I would like to read John's version of their experiences.  And I wished for some recipes, as so many of her meals sounded delicious, but I also understand that not cooking by the book is somewhat liberating and refreshing.

While not a completely happy memoir, I found it well written, enthralling and quite lyrical.  It also ends on a happy, positive note.  Paula certainly has a way with words and descriptions and her story is moving.  It's a terrific account of how depression truly is a sickness; a sickness that affects whole families, even if it is only one person who actually suffers from the illness. That Italy and Paris happen to be the settings is simply a bonus.

Thanks to my local library for having a copy I could borrow.  You can learn more about Paula Butterini here. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 7/10

* * * *
4/5 Stars

2 comments:

  1. I think I felt about the same way you did about this book. I liked it, but I didn't love it.

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  2. Oh, good, I'm glad you liked this one. I've got it on my wish list. I'd like to know when it took place, since we're heading to Romania in a couple of months. Eeks. Hope they don't have any uprisings. :)

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