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Under a Mackerel Sky Paperback – 28 Aug 2014

4.3 out of 5 stars 244 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Ebury Press (28 Aug. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0091949912
  • ISBN-13: 978-0091949914
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 2.1 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (244 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 17,421 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Stein’s brilliant memoir traces his halcyon days spent in Australia, culminating on his home turf, Cornwall." (The Daily Telegraph The Daily Telegraph)

"Dealing with his father's suicide by heading for the outback, catching a freighter from New Zealand to New York, running a nightclub: Stein has plenty to talk about before he gets to fish restaurants in Padstow and becoming a fixture of food TV. His fine autobiography never shies away from that defining tragedy and how it rippled through his life, even revealing his sudden need, last summer, to swim to the Cornish cliffs where his dad died." (Allan Jenkins and Gareth Grundy The Observer Food Monthly)

Book Description

The wry, perceptive and brilliantly evocative memoir of one of Britain’s best-loved cooks

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have always been a fan of Rick Stein and had to read this book as soon as it dropped through my letter box. 4 days later I have finished it and enjoyed every page. We all tend to form a view of a person in the hot light of celebrity but he manages to show a lot of his inner man. I was as curious about his divorce, remarriage, early life and his life with Chalky as any, but he has produced a work which rings a bell in my own mind.

Under a Mackerel Sky (a sign of bad weather) gives a strong account of his life, priveleged to a point, but this is never a divisive issue. He is not the hero of the book - his family and friends are. And the late, great Chalky, of course. Because of this we are able to see the young man trying to get over his father's suicide, his own insecurity, and his need to 'tough it out'. His mother must have been a very strong woman and comes across as such. She is worth his praise which is heartfelt.

He tends to be the lummox in his stories and he deals with self-doubt as do I - meet it head on and nut it: not terribly wise but very much the essence of a stubborn man. He treats his first wife, and business partner, with respect and levels no criticism at her. He sets himself up as the target for frowns if required, but he seems to me to be pretty honest. His slow rise to fame, by hard work and bloody mindedness shows grit. His success should show him he is a liked man, and the book shows he just may have reached a point where he can relax a little.

He is very proud of his children, extended family and friends and gives them all great value in this autobiography. There is enough about cooking, travel and culinary exploration to satisfy foodies, and enough about Padstow to bolster the local economy for years to come. Overall this is a very good read and he is a far better writer than he may realise. My only hope is he writes another with Chalky as the hero.

I highly recomment this book.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Easy read and at times enjoyable read, but rather than being about his difficult life with his father, as advertised, it is about him not dealing with his father taking his own life and consequently running away and how many girls he can get in to bed. His over joyous account of being with Sarah, his second wife, sounds as if Jill, his first wife left him, and all alone like a child. As far as it is know he walked out on his family. He claims that Sarah's kids and he get on well, that they are happy, sadly the kids in the photo look less than happy. A young girl with black rings under her eyes on holidays, with a forced smile??? I have always liked Rick Stain on TV, eaten in his restaurants but the book does not show him in a very good light at all.
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Format: Paperback
Like most people who bought this book, I quite like Rick Stein. However being a successful chef and a competent author are rarely achievable and I regret Rick Stein is no writer.

Like a football match this is a book of 2 halves. The 1st half before Rick Stein starts opening restaurants is a good read and enjoyable. The 2nd half however when Rick Stein starts his restaurants is, I regret pretentious twaddle. How anybody believes that listing names of wines and foods is interesting to the reader I have no idea. Furthermore I note the early in the biography Rick Stein states he wanted to be a journalist. Luckily nothing ever materialised and I'm pleased he did not succeed as the writing here is very poor. I could not see him even succeeding at a local newspaper.

One thing that really annoys me about books nowadays is when the author takes quotes from other books. I never find that interesting and often I wonder why they do it unless it for ego.It's like look at me I'm well educated! It adds nothing to the book in this case.

Talking about ego, Rick Stein repeats several times that people and journalists now refer to Padstow as Padstein. I read and have read quite a lot of newspapers and have been to Padstow on a number of occasions but I've never heard of this and wonder again if this is ego massaging.

The last few chapters deal with the breakup of his marriage and the way it is written Rick Stein seems rather proud that he dropped Jill, his wife of 20 odd years who had stood by him through thick and thin and married Sass whom he met on a restaurant reviewing panel whilst in Australia. Rick Stein tries to make you sympathise with his position but to be honest, even from his the death of his father, I feel absolutely nothing.
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Format: Paperback
Would probably not have picked up this book but it was a Reading Group choice. I do not normally read “celebrity” autobiographies but as I like Rick Stein’s TV programmes I was happy to give it a go.

I was not especially interested in his family background, his schooling and his teenage girlfriends but did enjoy hearing about his travels to Australia, Greece, United States, Mexico. There followed his early entrepreneurial ventures and his first attempts at running a restaurant. He was very honest about his own shortcomings and past mistakes. The bonhomie he exudes on TV is obviously not the whole picture!

In the acknowledgements he thanks his editor - but his writing certainly rambled in parts and could have done with a bit more pruning.
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