Keeping the Feast: One Couple’s Story of Love, Food, and Healing in Italy is a memoir by Paula Butturini and is such an emotionally charged and hopeful novel; one that I’m so happy I had the opportunity to read! It’s a story of her and her family’s struggles; the happy moments, the effects that depression can have on a family and the courage to face it all and make it to a better place. Too add to that Paula describes food in such a delectable way that gets your taste buds rolling in anticipation and makes us realize how food and sharing a meal is always something that brings us together even in the stormiest times.
This is the story of Paula and her husband John. They are both foreign correspondents in Italy when they meet and fall in love. They have a few years of bliss together while there enjoying the food and friends they’ve met. Then the hammer falls: Paula is severely beaten by riot police in Prague and John is shot in Romania not long after, almost dying. Life as they knew it will never be the same. John suffers, first physically, with his injuries and trying to recover but then even more devastating, he suffers emotionally falling into a deep depression. They feel the best thing to do is return to Italy where they had been so happy and see if that helps them in the recovery and healing process.
Food is a central theme of this novel. As the title suggests love, food and healing go hand in hand for Paula. For Paula shopping for their food everyday and stopping in the chapel on the way home is a way of healing for herself. She finds comfort in picking up the bread, fruit, meat and cheese that they will have for their meal and in the preparation of it as well. Food has always been a huge part of both hers and John’s life – it is one strong common bond they share – an anchor – the joy of food; of eating it and sharing it with those you love.
Depression is another central theme of the novel. Her husband John isn’t Paula’s first experience with the world of depression. Her own mother had suffered from serious depressive bouts throughout her whole life. Paula had seen what depression could do to a family and to the person suffering from it. She vowed to help John come out of his depression and live life again. She shows us that through the comfort and stability of everyday things a person can find a way to happiness and healing again. She herself learns along the way that it’s ok to be angry and to demand better from even those who are sick.
I loved many things about this book even the sad parts about depression because it’s all so beautifully written. Paula’s vivid descriptions of her childhood memories of favorite foods and even just her descriptions of the simplest thing like a piece of asparagus just draws you into her story. Many times through her portrayal of tragedy, healing, food and hope, her words made me feel all the emotions she was writing about. The way she spoke of food evoking memories of your past and those who are now gone had such an impact on my heart. The way Paula never gives up on John; she fights for him and his emotional healing and for their marriage is truly admirable. I felt a part of this story and came away caring about all involved in it. This is not a book you will easily forget; many parts of this story are still vividly in my mind.
There are many quotes in this book that beg to be shared – beautiful descriptions of foods and meals, of Italy…but I’m just going to share two of my favorites…
- ‘To be a comfort to one’s spouse, to be comforted by one’s spouse, to delight — and to growl — at one’s beloved, to find joy in both the delighting and the growling: that is my idea of a sturdy, happy marriage. When it works, it is like a prayer: finding and being utterly oneself and communicating that true self to another. (page 149, ARC copy, final edited copy may be different)
- ‘All of us cook, I think, in part to feed our daily hunger, but just as important, and perhaps more so, we cook and eat to feed our spirits, keep us all in the same orbit of life. As the generations turn, as our family expands, the table and its simple pleasures — never just the food, but the food and the talk, the food and the laughter, the food and the tears, the jokes, the memories, the hopes — still hold us in place, well anchored in a safe harbor.'(page 253/4, ARC copy, final edited copy may be different)
Beauty in words! I loved Paula’s writing and her ability to draw me into this story, to make me feel so many emotions. While a great part of this book may seem like it’s sad, it actually isn’t. Paula has written this book in such a way that it offers encouragement and hope – she opens her heart to all reading and that makes it a very powerful novel indeed. My favorite parts of course are all the tidbits about food and the markets in Rome — any foodie will love this story as well as the parts about life in Italy — one of my dream places to one day visit. This is most definitely a novel I’d recommend to those who like memoirs, food, travel, and even those who have dealt with major tragedies and depression as this book may offer hope to them.
I read Keeping the Feast for Paula Butturini’s blog tour with TLC Book Tours and I have to thank Paula for a wonderful book and Lisa for inviting me to participate in the tour. You can check out other tour stops for Keeping the Feast here. Keeping the Feast releases February 18, 2010 and you can buy it here in the US and here in Canada. Be sure to pop in and visit Paula Butterini’s website as well.
I’m excited to share one copy of Keeping the Feast by Paula Butturini courtesy of the publisher with one of my lucky readers. To enter…
- For 1 entry leave me a comment with a way to contact you should you win.
- For 2 entries, follow my blog. Current followers count, just let me know you follow in your comment.
- For 3 entries, blog or tweet this giveaway to spread the word.
This giveaway is open to US & Canadian residents only (no PO boxes) and I’ll be drawing for the winner on Sunday, February 28, 2010. Good luck to all!