Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Title:  Keeping the Feast: One Couple's Story of Love, Food, and Healing in Italy
Author:  Paula Butturini
Format:  Hardcover
Pages:  259
Genre:  Memoir

Rating:  C

Synopsis (from publisher):  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.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Besides being an emotionally-draining book to read, Keeping the Feast was a disappointment for me.  The way people talked about it, the way it was described, led me to believe that this book was going to be similar to Marlena de Blasi's Thousand Days books, just with some more serious obstacles for the author and her husband to overcome.  I expected descriptions of food and Italy; I thought the book would focus on the healing that came from that food and that country.  Instead, I got the taxing, joy-sapping story of clinical depression, near-fatal wounds, suicide... Definitely not light reading.

The first half of the book focuses on all of the horrible things that kept happening to the author and especially her husband.  I'd read a chapter and then have to turn on a mindless comedy so I'd stop feeling so depressed.  Then the next quarter of the book was about the steps the Butturinis took towards that healing, much of which didn't even happen in Italy.  It was only in the final chapters of the book that the healing actually seemed to begin.  The food, which was supposed to be such an integral part, seemed secondary and scarce.  And the "happy" ending seemed rushed... because it was.  Butturini focused so much time describing the problems, she left almost nothing for the resolution.

Despite my disappointment, I didn't hate the book.  If I'd been more mentally prepared for what the book was really about, I'd have been perfectly fine with it.  If it had been described to me as a memoir on overcoming huge obstacles, without any mention of food or Italy, then I would have rated this book higher.  But because the memoir was supposed to have a big focus on both food & Italy (heck, it says so in the title), I had very different expectations.  C

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you so much for commenting! I always appreciate reading what you have to say.