The Buddha In The Attic – Julie Otsuka
I knew I had to read Julie Otsuka’s The Buddha In The Attic when I read rave reviews about it on a lot of book blogs. I wasn’t disappointed with the book.
The Buddha In The Attic is a very short novella, about the lives of a group of Japanese women who arrive in America on a ship, as mail-order brides, in the early 1900s. The story is narrated in first person plural; it is all about the emotions that ‘we’ felt, what ‘we’ talked about to each other, and how ‘we’ felt about America. The author has beautifully narrated the women’s experiences on the ship, their first impressions of America, their fear of having to live with someone largely unknown to them, and later, of their sons and daughters and their work, and then, about the Second World War.
In spite of being such a short book, The Buddha In The Attic is incredibly power-packed. Each word, each chapter will make you think, make you feel what those women felt and had to go through. It wasn’t an easy read for me, but I still loved it, for the wealth of knowledge it brought to me and the empathy it raised in me.
Delicious – Nicky Pellegrino
I hadn’t read any Nicky Pellegrino before, but had heard great things about her books. Delicious seemed like a good place to start. My reading experience turned out to be okay-ish, though. I wasn’t too happy with the book, but wasn’t utterly disappointed, either.
Delicious is the story of Maria Domenica Carrozza, a pretty young girl from the small Italian town of San Giulio. At sixteen, she is hungry for adventure and tired of living in San Giulio. So, when she gets an opportunity, she runs away from home – to Rome. A year later, she returns home, disillusioned with life and heavily pregnant. Circumstances change her life completely after her come-back, and she once again begins to feel that familiar feeling – that the life she is leading is not what she is meant to be leading. Maria Domenica runs away from home once more – this time to England – with her daughter Chiara. How Maria Domenica’s life unfolds once she reaches England and what becomes of Chiara is what Delicious is all about.
The book definitely has its moments. I loved the way the characters have been sketched, through little details and incidents involving them. I admired the spirit of Maria Domenica and that of Chiara, too. That said, I sometimes found both ladies way too confused than their sensible natures indicated, and wished they would come back to their senses. Some twists and turns in the story are really good and well-written, but some feel like they have been put in just for the sake of putting them in.
Delicious has a lot of descriptions of gorgeous Italian food, and drool-worthy descriptions of Italy. They made me crave for a visit to Italy and a sample of the authentic food there, probably cooked in a nonna‘s kitchen, with loads of love.
I am definitely going to try out a few other books by the author. Maybe I’ll like them better than I did this one.
A Homemade Life: Stories And Recipes From My Kitchen Table – Molly Wizenberg
Such a beautiful book! I’m so glad I read it!
In July of 2004, Molly Wizenberg decided to quit the Ph.D. program in Cultural Anthropology that she was pursuing, but she didn’t know what she really wanted to do with her life. She knew that she loved everything about food, though, and that she wanted to do something related to food. One of her friends suggested that she start writing a blog, and that was how Orangette was born. Orangette changed Molly’s life in more ways than one. Firstly, she met her now husband Brandon through the blog, fell in love, and got married to him. Secondly, she got inspired enough to write her first book, A Homemade Life: Stories And Recipes From My Kitchen Table. Thirdly, she realised that she and Brandon had it in them to open a restaurant together, called Delancey, and then another bar and restaurant called Essex. Molly then went on to write one more memoir, about her restaurant-running experience, called Delancey, too.
A Homemade Life is a memoir, a food-based memoir, with recipes. The author writes about the people who are the most important in her life, the incidents that have shaped her, with a warmth and sensitivity. She writes passionately about food, how she feels about food, and how she has always associated food with the people and incidents in her life. The recipes she has included are tried and tested, some handed down to her by family and some by dear friends.
Reading A Homemade Life was an utterly enjoyable experience, like cradling a warm bowl of your favourite soup on a cold and lonely winter evening, each spoonful warming you up. It evokes in you nostalgia from your own life, and makes you realise that people everywhere are the same. The book was a double treat for me – being the foodie that I am, I loved reading about the author’s glorious descriptions of food, and the memoir part was a delight, too.
I would heartily recommend this book to all of you, especially if you are a lover of food and/or memoirs. Beware, though, for it will definitely make you hungry!
I so want to pick up Delancey now!