The Feast Nearby: How I Lost My Job, Buried A Marriage, And Found My Way By Keeping Chickens, Foraging, Preserving, Bartering, And Eating Locally (All On $40 A Week) – Robin Mather
Genre: Food, food memoir, non-fiction, recipes
I read several food-based books in 2015, both real-life and foodie fiction. I enjoyed most of them. This is a genre that I have come to love, actually. There is so much to know, so much to learn from this genre, particularly from the memoirs. (See my best books of 2015 here, with most of my choices being food-related.) So, it is fitting that I ended 2015 with a food memoir – Robin Mather’s The Feast Nearby: How I Lost My Job, Buried A Marriage, And Found My Way By Keeping Chickens, Foraging, Preserving, Bartering, And Eating Locally (All On $40 A Week).
Robin Mather used to be a high-flying food journalist, who spent several years researching different aspects of food and writing about it for some leading publications, in the process consuming some of the loveliest of foods every day. One fine day life, as she knew it, toppled over. She lost her job, and was too old to start over in a new career or find another job. In the same week, her husband asked her for a divorce. She was left with a limited sum of money, a dog, a parrot, and a tiny cottage in a remote part of the US of A, which was miles away from the nearest town. Robin relocated to the cottage, and moved miles away from the high-flying lifestyle she used to lead earlier, too. Good food was something she could not give up on, for living without eating well was no living for her. Slowly and steadily, Robin worked a way out – she would eat well within the limited allowance she had for food, by living locally (a cause she had always been passionate about), eating seasonal food, preserving, bartering with the local community, foraging, and keeping her own chickens. The Feast Nearby: How I Lost My Job, Buried A Marriage, And Found My Way By Keeping Chickens, Foraging, Preserving, Bartering, And Eating Locally (All On $40 A Week) is Robin’s story of how she achieved this feat.
I found the book very inspiring. I felt Robin was oh-so-brave to not give up on her little dream of eating well in spite of her limited budget. That involved a lot of determination and sheer hard work, which she did not shirk from. I liked how the book told me there was a way out for me to eat well, which I could tailor to my circumstances. I don’t really have to move to a remote village to eat seasonal and locally, but that I just have to make some important choices and stick to them. It would involve some hard work, most of it physical, and that I needed to do it if I wanted to stay true to my goal. The author has gone into quite some depth about the way she lived after she moved to the cottage, but I felt it lacked personal connect. Maybe it was just me? The chapters seemed to be very short, to me, and I wish there had been more length, more of a memoir-ish feel to the book.
The book also contains recipes, some of Robin’s favourites, which helped her preserve seasonal fruit and vegetables. Most of the foods and recipes that Robin writes about, though, are very American and non-vegetarian, so they are not really going to be of use to me.
All in all, the book turned out to be an above-average read for me, inspiring definitely, but not connecting with me personally.
Would I recommend it? Definitely, yes, especially if you have been thinking about eating well, locally and seasonally.
The Villa Girls – Nicky Pellegrino
Genre: Light read, fiction, chick-lit, Italy
Nicky Pellegrino’s The Villa Girls was the first book I read in 2016, as I said here. I found it to be an enjoyable light read, which held my attention till the very end. I liked the book much better than I have liked the other Nicky Pellegrino books I have read so far.
The book begins with the main character, Rosie Goodheart, as a school girl, feeling lost and aimless in life after the sudden passing away of her parents in a car accident. The story gradually develops to show how Rosie goes on to find friends, a career, a place to live, love, and meaning in life. There are glorious descriptions of food and Italy involved, as with all Nicky Pellegrino books. I found the book to be well written, and the characters to be well developed. The storyline is simple, but interesting and attention-gripping. This is not great literature by any account, but it is not dumb chick-lit either. It turned out to be just the perfect read for me, for the moment.
I would definitely recommend this book, if you are looking out for a sensible but light read, with realistic characters and a realistic plot. I am not going to tell you what ‘Villa Girls’ means, though. You’ll have to read the book to find that out!
Have you read any/both of these books? What are your thoughts about it/ them?
What are you reading at the moment?