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Elizabeth David Paperback – 10 Sep 1999
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The immense allure of the late Elizabeth David's writings--at least in the early books of the 1950s with which she made her name--rests not so much in the recipes which are their ostensible subject as in the vividly rendered evocations of the landscapes, the harbours and marketplaces of the Mediterranean where she gathered them and which so dazzled in the austerity of post-war Britain. The introductory sections of French Provincial Cooking, for example, describing the regions of France and their cuisines, are seductive travel writing of the highest order. Yet the author herself, though present, remains elusive. There are hints of the details of a life: she was, after all Mrs David (but who was Mr David?); there are the habitual references to "we" in the accounts of the travels; there is the intriguing friendship with the raffish Norman Douglas. Lisa Chaney's Elizabeth David exhaustively fill the gaps between these biographical scraps. The picture that emerges is a mixture of the expected and the unexpected. The expected includes the patrician, cosmopolitan upbringing, the travelling, the wide circle of artistic, bohemian friends. The unexpected might include rebellion against her family, and an early (unsuccessful) attempt at a career on the stage; flight from England and all it represented; greyness and failure; on a yacht with a rather exotic lover just before the outbreak of war. The wartime Mediterranean exile that followed was what crystallised, on her return to England at the end of the war, into the writing career we are more familiar with. Lisa Chaney brings an impressive richness of detail and a fine empathy to bear on the this life of a complex, often troubled woman who was unquestionably the finest food writer in English of the 20th Century. --Robin Davidson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From the Publisher
The book has the serious purpose and sense of balance of the historian infused with sympathy and the warmth of admiration for what Ms David stood for and what she achieved. It respects her without being respectful A remarkably rounded and convincing portrait. GUARDIAN
This book provides a fuller and better appreciation of Elizabeth Davids work than has previously appeared anywhere. The authors background in the arts, besides her enthusiasm for food and cookery, give her insights which few other writers would be capable of matching Lisa Chaney, sympathetic but candid throughout, has done a fine job and has drawn a full and convincing portrait of an extraordinary personality. Alan Davidson, EVENING STANDARD
Chaney writes particularly well throughout on the roots of Elizabeth Davids interest in food, and on how her writing is about so very much more than food. Minette Marrin, LITERARY REVIEW
Worthy of its subject, well-written and quite brilliantly researched. Anne Scott-James, OLDIE
Chaneys biography has enough detail to satisfy the most demanding David-worshipper and is keenly alert to the wider cultural framework in which her subject operated. D.J. Taylor, MAIL ON SUNDAY
This thoughtful, meticulously researched biography illuminates the life and times of one of the most influential women of our century An extraordinary talent, an extraordinary life, expertly unravelled in a biography worthy of its subject. Elisabeth Luard, THE TIMES
Top customer reviews
The biography has made me understood a lot about the woman whose skills as a writer and cook has been such a joy to me. The book loyal to Elisabeth David, is entertaining and well written.
It is also a well designed book.
I have given it to my daughter, who has read it and enjoyed it.
I can add, that I have met Elisabeth David when she attended a food arrangement in Forum in Copenhagen, where I went to thank her. And I have visited her shop in London, which, alas is not there anymore.