In the prologue to this book, Elizabeth Luard admits her family were 'unusual' in that they were able to up sticks and live where they wanted. Her husband Nicholas Luard was a writer and so the family were able to decamp from London to Spain when her four children were very young, then to France and back to the UK when they were teenagers
Along the way they have more than their fair share of tribulations: Elizabeth loses two children due to Rhesus incompatability and her eldest daughter dies in her late 20s from complications from Aids. But this doesn't make the book depressing as Luard vividly describes the labour of love of child-rearing and family life. This is brought all the more to life by her evocative descriptions of the foreign climes that they lived in and the food they ate. Food and meal times are the glue that bring the family together and mark the passing of the years - recipes of the family's favourites are included throughout the book.
The final part of the book is a tribute to her dead daughter Francesca - Luard uses her daughter's diaries to describe her illness and then takes over to tell of the last few weeks of her life in a London hospital. What shines through this awful, tragic time is the family's love and joy they find in each other - even after the death of one of them they still come together to enjoy life and to eat.
This book reminded me of the late Laurie Colwin's,Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen
, another woman's memoir of family and food.