I enjoyed the book, start to finish, just as I have with all of Ruth's books. I liked her mother much more in this book than I had in past books, but I should also say that in any of her books, her mother has always been a catalyst and a great character to feast on. Now, though, after reading this book, we see a different picture of the woman who bore Ruth Reichl. We see a woman plagued by a deep dissatisfaction with life, and also a woman is the picture of change.
Ruth's mother represents a generation of women who stood for something of a silent majority. Likely that this book will speak differently to every person who reads it.... I found it spoke volumes on the institution of marriage and the perpetuation of the vision of the modern woman over generations.
Though short and sweet (and perhaps some will like this book for that very reason) and having nothing much to do with food, this book is one that every woman should read, for we all have mothers. That is why this seemed an appropriate day to share it with all of you: Mother's Day.
Generally I don't add my own stories into my reviews, but today I will make an exception because of the day. When I was reading this book, I thought often of my own mother... like Ruth, my mother used to embarrass me a lot as a child, though in totally different ways. I would be so mortified as she and my father played "gay" at various restaurants in order to desensitize my brother and I to bigotry.* I was embarrassed when she would tell the children on the field trip that the zebra had a "boner" and then explain what it was.
But as I am an adult, and while I was reading this book, I am reminded that her parenting, however unconventional it might have been, really instilled a great deal of value in my character. Many of my best qualities can be attributed to my mother, even if she doesn't possess them herself. That is the true gift of a good mother... because my own mother had missed out on so many things that she wanted from her own mother, she gave those to me as a precious gem.
We take a lot of the things our parents do for granted. We come to expect from them a certain set of things... and yet, most of the time we don't even really know the true nature of the people they are. Today, love your mother, and do one better and perhaps try to learn something of her you didn't know before. You may be surprised at what you find.
*I felt this playing gay thing deserved further explanation. When I was a kid, my parents tried to desensitize us to bigotry. One way they did this was by pretending they were not married, but two gay friends. They would announce to our waitress at restaurants, "I am a lesbian," and my dad would chime in, "I am gay. We are NOT married." When my brother and I would say, "guys, stop it!" They would nearly die laughing and say, "It shouldn't make you uncomfortable! It's fine to be gay!" And when the waitress would return, they would say, "Tell the children it's fine to be gay!" The waitress would always oblige.
Unconventional? Yes. Effective? HELL YES!