Food memoir set in France? Travel memoir? Combining the two into one book made me think that of course I would adore it. Alas, it suffered from a mistaken identity. Or at least misleading advertising.
The food-focused and travelogue parts I did really enjoy. It was the other part of the book that I didn’t like. Turns out the book was only part travel/food memoir, but it also had a lot about Finley’s troubled marriage. A LOT about it. I don’t particularly enjoy reading about dysfunctional relationships, but I especially don’t appreciate reading about them without the benefit of distance. A memoir that looks back years later on a crumbling marriage years can offer perspective and wisdom that isn’t possible when the events are so recent.
I also don’t like memoirs where there are problems or issues (of any sort) but the author never seems to grow or adapt in any way. Finley and her husband seem like they’ve passed a year in France, but their issues haven’t been resolved in any way, and nothing has truly changed for them. Once they return to the United States, there wasn’t much reason for me to believe that their marriage would be any different than the one that sent them scurrying to Europe to rescue it.
Despite Finley’s seeming openness about events, she never does a good job of explaining why she thinks their trip to France and eating their way around the country will repair their relationship. It made me wonder if she really understood why herself.
A professionally trained cook turned stay-at-home mom, Amy Finley decided on a whim to send in an audition tape for season three of The Next Food Network Star, and the impossible happened: she won. So why did she walk away from it all? A triumphant and endearing tale of family, food, and France, Amy’s story is an inspiring read for women everywhere.
While Amy was hoping to bring American families together with her simple Gourmet Next Door recipes, she ended up separating from her French husband, Greg, who didn’t want to be married to a celebrity. Amy felt betrayed. She was living a dream—or was she? She was becoming famous, cooking for people out there in TV land, in thirty minutes, on a kitchen set . . . instead of cooking and eating with her own family at home.
In a desperate effort to work things out, Amy makes the controversial decision to leave her budding television career behind and move her family to France, where she and Greg lived after they first met and fell in love. How to Eat a Small Country is Amy’s personal story of her rewarding struggle to reunite through the simple, everyday act of cooking and eating together. Meals play a central role in Amy’s new life, from meeting the bunny destined to become their classic Burgundian dinner of lapin à la moutarde to dealing with the aftermath of a bouillabaisse binge. And as she, Greg, and their two young children wend their way through rural France, they gradually reweave the fabric of their family.
At times humorous and heart-wrenching, and always captivating and delicious, How to Eat a Small Country chronicles the food-filled journey that one couple takes to stay together.
Title: How to Eat a Small Country: A Family’s Pursuit of Happiness, One Meal at a Time
Author: Amy Finley
Category: Nonfiction / Memoir
Length: 304 pages
My Rating: 2.5 Stars
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