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4.4 out of 5 stars
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4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 13 January 2005
this book is a wonderfully personal insight into the life of an ordinary lady over the past century. she, like all of us just living life, can experience so much by opening our eyes to the most simple things around us. Basic things we do to live can provide such joy if we chose it to - just as Lilla did. the joy of food and its creations took her through the most painful things that any human might be expected to live through. the author is the grandaughter of lilla and there are pictures of Lilla at all stages in her life in China, India and the UK at her 100th birthday. this book shows the integrity of her generation that i hope will prevail. such a beautiful book - history as it should be delivered - in a personal and honest way. this book has been an inpsiration to me - opened my eyes to the lives of the 'ordinary' people around me. thanks to the author for writing it.
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on 9 March 2015
This was a Book Club selection and my heart fell when this book was chosen. How wrong could I have been.
This is a beautifully written story about Lilia and Ada twin girls. Predominantly it about Lillia's life from birth to death. What a fascinating story wonderfully researched and written. I am not going into detail about the story because I think it could spoil the story. A worthwhile read. Thank you to Frances Osborne for indeed what is a feast of a book.
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on 18 February 2015
A wonderful book that gives a well written insight into life, not only in China but in India and Britain too, for a whole century, during and between the two world wars. The attitudes towards marriage, children and the wonderful lost art of letter writing. More and more is being written about how strong women of this time were and this really comes over in the life of Lilla. I was inspired to go and see the cookery book in the Imperial War Museum and it was well worth the visit.
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on 30 January 2015
In many ways this is a fascinating read and the history behind the story has been meticulously researched. I became increasingly irritated, however, by the writer's use of non-sentences. A few would have been effective, but so many interrupted the flow of the narrative for me. In addition, like another reviewer, I didn't like the writer's frequent imaginative interpolations such as 'I can just imagine her ...' doing whatever. I should also have liked to read some more of the recipes since the title suggests that the cookery book is central to the whole biography. I'm glad I have read it, but won't really be recommending it to my friends.
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on 17 April 2013
I had wanted to read this book since I read a review in a magazine about 2 years ago. The impression I had was that there would be more details of the receipes that Lilla had made, but it was much more of a history book about Lilla's life and the world she lived in at the time. It was interesting and a good story- could imagine it made into a film - but not what I had expected and so I was a little disappointed. I was glad that I had bought it but glad that I didn't pay a higher price for it.
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on 20 April 2009
An epic tale, all the more enjoyable because it is a true one!

You will also learn a great deal about the history of China and the India from one who experienced it.

Everyone will love this
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on 15 April 2016
Frances Osbourne's great grandmother was born , lived and loved in China during the 1900's . First of all in a treaty port , then in India as a British army wife before returning to China just as the Japanese invaded during the 2nd World War . She spent almost 3 years in a camp experiencing all the hardships of near starvation , cold and heat . Then eventually was forced to return to England once the Communists took over her beloved China leaving behind everything . Throughout the book her love of cooking and ability to make something special from almost nothing is the theme . What a very special lady .
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on 19 April 2013
This is an intruiging story of a lady who lived to be a centenarian and whose life was a rollercoaster between good and bad fortune, different continents and how she adapted to what fate threw at her - which resulted in a uniquely fought life and the writing of a remarkable book.

Osborne clearly has a talent for writing; she brings the sights and smells of China and India of many decades ago and in particular writes exquisitely about food. Where the book is weak is in its (understandable, as Osborne is a great-granddaughter, writing about family some of whom are still alive) sentimentality and tendency to depict people as either saints or sinners. There is some irrelevant and rather pompous mention of her father's career and her own wedding venue. She 'can see her [heroine] now' far too many times, or when she can't, speculates out loud which is distracting. But overall it is a riveting read about a remarkable life. I'm tempted to get Osborne's recent fiction as hopefully this will have all the good things about her writing, without the sentimentality drawbacks.
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on 20 July 2014
I enjoyed this book. She has a good ability to turn the facts into a readable story, similar to a novel but not the same. I always enjoy a book that is based on events in history as you feel you've learnt something new along the way.
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on 18 April 2011
This is a very readable book with a lot of varying interests. My only critism is that the writer makes a lot of assumtions about the characters feelings and thoughts based on limited childhood memories of one of the characters. The somewhat tenuous linking themes are food & recipes, but if you are looking for any, forget it!
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