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Bittersweet: Lessons from My Mother's Kitchen Hardcover – 5 Apr 2010

3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (5 April 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1408800942
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408800942
  • Product Dimensions: 14.8 x 2.9 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,337,288 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

'A love story of the first order. [McAllester's] unflinching honesty will make you cry. His culinary adventures will lead you to put on an apron. And his graceful storytelling will transfix you' Rajiv Chandrasekaran, author of Imperial Life in the Emerald City 'The precision of his descriptions, his frankness, and his defiant irony ... gives us a powerful portrait of a family's courage, tragedy and love' Rory Stewart, author of The Places in Between 'A scrupulously honest dispatch that's every bit as gripping as a report from Abu Ghraib, and every bit as vital' Newsweek 'Bittersweet is a story of love, war, death, madness, alcohol, motherhood, the bond between mother and sons - but ultimately about love. The result is a beautiful book, tragic, haunting but always deeply moving. I cried when I read it, but I wanted to read it until the very last page' Janine di Giovanni, author of Madness Visible

Book Description

An unforgettable tale of family, food and love --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By E. Goldberg on 26 Sept. 2010
Format: Hardcover
This book is amazing. Matt McAllister, a war journalist, is coming to terms with the loss of his mother, who died a few years ago. Yet actually, as his story unfolds, he really lost her and his childhood, when he was ten years old, as his mother started a gradual descent into mental illness and alcohol abuse. His anger at her as a teenager and young man, and his gradual acceptance of her condition as an adult, unfurls in his search for the woman he remembered from his early years, and especially through her binding her family together through cooking. Matt undertakes his search through an exploration of cookery, both recipes he remembers from his childhood, and through a challenge to learn to cook as his mother did, using Elizabeth David as a role-model.

Poignant loss and raw emotion envelope memories and challenges of grieving as this cathartic tale unfolds. A book for anyone who loves cooking, their mother, or who has had to deal with grief, and mental illness.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A. A. Calinescu on 15 Dec. 2010
Format: Hardcover
Wonderfully written; honest, touching and poignant. Plus stunning photographs documenting every day family life. I couldnt put it down. A book I will always remember.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By LadyG'Diver on 7 Dec. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Interesting memoir by a journalist about his mentally ill mother.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 12 reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
elegant prose, beautiful and tragic 15 April 2009
By David A. Lawrence - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A moving and fascinating book by a gifted journalist, who focuses his investigative talents this time on his own childhood. Years covering the world's most complicated conflict zones apparently gave McAlester great practice at untangling individual tragedy and spinning it into elegant and lucid prose. He does the same thing with his own life-story, reliving painful memories of anger and love for his mentally-ill mother. Though it's unique, McAlester makes the memoir universal somehow by relating it all through the comfort foods his mother made for him during her best times. It was a pleasure to read despite the sadness.

David Lawrence
Albion, Maine
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Highly Recommended 9 Jun. 2009
By Amy B. Sherman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This is one of the most moving books I've read in a long time. Haunting even. It is a memoir with recipes but so much more. It's one man's journey through grief and memory to come to a greater understanding of his mother. It has humor, tragedy and great insight and is fantastically well-written. Parts of it are profoundly sad, but it is by no means "depressing" or "detached." If anything its ultimate end is the opposite.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
More than you expect 24 Dec. 2009
By L. Kaplow - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
That "Bittersweet" would be a moving memoir is no surprise. It's written by one of our generation's most compelling chroniclers of humanity in conflict, who now turns his skills toward his fraught relationship with his mother, a woman burdened with demons, stifled ambitions and insanities. It's easy to lump it in with other "cooking" memoirs ("Julie and Julia" has already been referenced here) or reflections on motherhood but it's much more.
This book ranges from lighter questions about modern day detachment (topical enough to be the subject of "Up in the Air" in cinemas) and health care indifference to deeper issues like neglect, guilt and love. The themes are carefully unveiled in a plot arc with an emotional twist at the ending. (Disclosure: I'm a friend of the author's but not an automatic cheerleader for his work).
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
An honest and brave book 1 April 2010
By Myfanwy Collins - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Add one part angry, neglected child and one part probing, heartbroken adult and you have a recipe for a brave, honest, and touching book. I was deeply touched by the portrait of this mother--flawed though she was--she was still the glue that held the family together, however tenuously. Along with the eloquent prose, the photographs tell a touching tale of a family in love--the sadness is learning the undercurrent beneath these photos, that each of the family members was struggling to hold on to the beautiful image portrayed. In the end, the taste left in your mouth will be one of satisfaction--knowing that a family rooted in love, will stay together no matter what.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A touching memoir - couldn't put it down! 5 May 2009
By LINA - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was very moved by this book. After Matt McAllester's mother dies, he uses her cookbooks to reconnect with the warm, loving woman of his childhood, before she was consumed by mental illness. As he is doing so, he reflects on his own struggles to conceive a child with his new wife. It's an honestly written, multi-layered story that had me turning the pages. The writing was beautiful and sparse. I particularly liked the scenes of the author's childhood in Scotland. It was also interesting to read about how his mother's recipes were influenced by French and British cookbooks which I had never heard of. I loved his descriptions of learning to make delectable meals, filled with love, sadness, anger and forgiveness. Definitely a good book for a foodie and a wonderful book about love and loss.
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