Although the subtitle of this touching, beautifully written volume indicates otherwise, the book is in fact a biography of the author's parents' troubled marriage. Writing with grace and generous doses of humor, Lyle (The Foraging Gourmet) describes her early years with her mother as a wonderful time when women in the community banded together to take care of each other. Family conflict began when her father, Marine Corps Brigadier General John Seymour Letcher ("the youngest officer in the history of the Marine Corps to have a General's command in battle") returned from the South Pacific of WWII an angry, controlling man who proceeded to grind his family into submission. The author explains that her mother had entered into a loveless union with a man who was by turns charming and viciously domineering largely because, as a woman, she was blocked form most other options. During the long marriage she was subject to depression, for which she was occasionally hospitalized. Lyle skillfully describes her own life-long struggle to differentiate herself from her father, in whom she saw many of her own traits magnified and distorted. Describing her journey to come to terms with him, she is as funny as she is frank, and emerges as a compelling figure, every bit as strong and capable as her father but without his apparently self-involved rage.