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This review is from: Madeleines in Manhattan: A Memoir with Recipes (Paperback)
'Madeleines in Manhattan' is the memoir of Colette Rossant, a mother, food writer and journalist, who moved from France to New York in 1955.
The initial chapters of this book are quite nice, describing Colette's mixed feelings about moving to America from Europe and the difficulties she had finding food she enjoyed. There is a great sense of place about these chapters and finding out about the different cultural 'pockets' of New York in the 50's is great.
The main problem I had, was that for a memoir it is too controlled and too restrained. Rossant gives remarkable little away about herself, her hopes and her feelings about food. She might say something like 'It was great', 'I really liked that' or similar, and this for me lacks the passion that makes really good food writing.
The final chapter is an absolute disaster, a straightforward births, marriages and deaths roll-call. We haven't been properly introduced to many of the people in this chapter, so care very little about them.
The recipes also confused me. Colette might talk about particular dishes in a chapter and then the recipes that follow the chapter are dishes that haven't been mentioned at all. The same goes for the 'madeleines' in the title which never feature in the book! (Perhaps they are just used for their alliterative quality!)
There are nice touches in this book, such as the descriptions of Chinatown which are vivid and interesting. But for a memoir, there's too little sense of self.
For a similar theme, with a better quality of writing and true passion, try 'Garlic and Sapphires' by Ruth Reichl.