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on 25 June 2013
Still the only cook book to make me weep.
Elisabeth's had a hell of a life, the title sums it all up perfectly.
It's a lovely, evocative read & the cooking ties it all together.
For me, it's right up there, a serious contender for my Desert Island book.
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on 25 January 1999
I was given this book while living in England, and it came highly recommended. It is not heard of very much here, in Canada, where I now live. I read the first half whilst on holiday in Southern Spain, thinking it would be appropriate to read it while in the book's setting. I honestly found it rather slow at first, though very well-written, and a dry wit which pervades until the very last chapter, which becomes more tragedy than comedy. By the second half of the book, I was enamoured, and loved the description of family life in Spain, the titillating recipes from Spain and France, and the in-depth look into a Spanish psyche, from flamenco to food...as it is a biography of the Luard family, the last chapter is the factual tragedy of the death of their daughter, and I was reading and weeping late at night to finish it...I would highly recommend the book!! I will look for more Elizabeth Luard titles.
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on 20 March 2000
A thoroughly good read if you like food and dream of living the good life somewhere near the Mediterranean. Life is not a breeze for the Luard family, but mother Elizabeth lets us share the meals and the fun as well as the difficulties. The death of her daughter is a shock, but is lovingly and honestly described.
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on 6 March 2011
I challenge any reader to remain unmoved by the last chapters of this little book. I felt nourished spiritually and physically throughout, it has become a favourite and I return for a "snack" many times. I identified so whole-heartedly with Elisabeth's triumphs and struggles which are difficult to editorialise now in explanation to following generations. Hard choices have always and still have to be made, balancing career, economy and family,is still a challenge, those of us, who were lost in the post war pre-feminist generation I feel may have had it harder than those who followed the path paved by us. Not for we the counselling sessions that would follow a miscarriage or still birth today. I too was disgruntled by the Passport experience.. (my husband had to sign my first passport as well!!!). I am so thrilled that a much younger reader has also written a favourable review, love and common sense are ageless it seems. Unlike Elisabeth, I was not blessed with a large family or such a talented husband, but it is clear that both blessings came at a cost when her "Clan" were diminished by still birth and by the ravages of AIDS. A close friend lost a dear daughter in her mid twenties to cancer. "Of Love and Angels" helped me a lot in darkest hours, I hope my friend too went to the Carribean to enjoy the sun... I will think of her there with "Fran", they had a lot in common.
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on 1 November 1999
Family Life tells of the author's years bringing up her family in England, Spain and France, and is a cross between autobiography and travel book with a few recipes thrown in. I found Luard's rather unconventional attitude to bringing up children refreshing compared to todays trend for wrapping them up in cotton wool - her son and three daughters certainly seemed to grow up fairly well-rounded anyway. The final chapters deal movingly with Luard's eldest daughter Francesca's illness and give a poignant account of how she and the rest of her family come to terms with it, and I must confess to shedding a few tears by the end of the book.I look forward to reading the next instalment - Still Life.
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on 12 September 2009
I must admit that I've never heard of Elisabeth Luard and I certainly wouldn't have been likely to read this if it hadn't been put forward as a Bookworms choice - but I'm glad it was.

Elisabeth was married to Nicholas Luard who latterly was a writer and politician, but who was known in society London of the 1960s as the co-founder of a nightclub called The Establishment with Peter Cook.

Elisabeth and Nicholas had four children and they moved around a great deal when the children were young. The book starts out in London but soon they up-sticks and move - first to Andalusia in Spain, and later to the Languedoc region of France, before returning to London.

The book centres on Elisabeth and her children - Nicholas doesn't feature a great deal - and their travels between 60s until the untimely death of the eldest daughter, Francesca, in 1994. Towards the end of the book, Francesca takes over for one chapter as she tells her story about her illness.

Interspersed with plenty of recipes, it is an amusing, interesting book, and although their lifestyle was not what could be considered `normal' the book is entertaining and the section about Francesca's death is a story of courage. I think it will give us plenty to talk about!
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on 2 November 2015
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.
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on 17 November 1999
Although only aged 20, I have read this three times, and still pick it up all the time to glance through again. It is a book for women who revel in luxurious food, the love of their families, and who have a sense of humour about daily life. It is a warming, nourishing book for any girl to read. I admire the author and aspire to be as good a mummy as she one day!
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on 10 January 2017
Bought as a gift for a friend as I knew that she had had connections with folk mentioned. It was a wise choice. She so enjoyed the book saying it most interesting and extremely well written and found herself on a 'Luard' journey, consuming several more titles.
I know of Ms Luard through possessing several of her books on food. Most involving.
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on 16 January 2015
Loved this book, their lives in Spain and travels so very real.
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