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Monday, April 22, 2013

From the Kitchen of Half Truth by Maria Goodin (Book Review)

Title: From the Kitchen of Half Truth
Author: Maria Goodin
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark

About the Book: If your mother can't seem to tell the truth. . . how true is your life?

Scientist Meg May can't remember her childhood, but that's just fine, because her cooking-obsessed, head-in-the-clouds mother has told her everything:  Meg's father was a French chef who died in a tragic pastry accident; her mom dipped a younger Meg's toes in coffee because they were so sweet.  Meg used to love these stories, but as she spends one last elegiac summer with her dying mother, savoring the fleeting days and absorbing cooking lessons, she longs to know the truth.  However, her mother is in denial about their past, as well as about her health, and Meg may not have the chance to discover who they are in time.

A delicious debut, full of quirky humor and depth of feeling, From the Kitchen of Half Truth explores the lies we tell ourselves in order to create the life we want.

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My thoughts: I enjoyed reading this book very much.  It was like curling up under a blanket on a rainy day.  When I had to put it down, I couldn't wait to start reading it again and the words just flowed beautifully.  

The stories that Meg's mother, Valerie, tells her about her childhood all reflect cooking or food in some way.  This makes sense as Valerie's passion is cooking.  She has filled Meg's head with wonderful stories and created this fantastical world where the scar on her head is from a bite from a crabcake; that they once had a spaghetti plant growing in their windowbox; that one summer the runner beans that they had picked all got up and ran away.  It is that last story about the runner beans that makes Meg realize at the age of 8, that maybe everything her mother tells her isn't the truth.  She decides that she is done with make believe and from there on out everything has to have it's basis in fact. Unfortunately, she has already been labeled as a 'liar' and kind of nutty for believing these stories and so her life growing up is a lonely one.  

When she is 21 she goes back to spend the summer with her mother as her mother is dying.  She is still full of spirit though and greets each day as if nothing is wrong.  Meg tries to get her mother to tell her about her childhood, as well as face the fact that she is dying, but her mother continues to spin her fanciful tales and avoids the truth.  The gardener that Valerie has hired, Ewan, is very taken with Valerie and shares his own tales with her.  Try as she might, Meg just doesn't have the same connection to her mother that Ewan does - or maybe we should say the same acceptance that Ewan does.  She continues to dig for anything that might tell her something about her childhood.  

I will say it again, I really enjoyed reading this book and was sorry to see it end.  It had lots of little bits of wisdom tucked into the quirky tales - some of which were quite humorous.  I loved the relationship that Meg had with her mother, even if she wasn't quite as satisfied with it as she felt she should be.  Even though she wanted answers to her questions, she also wanted to protect her mother as anything to do with her past seemed to upset her.  

I think this would be a good book for a reading club- lots of stuff to discuss about relationships - those between mother and daughter; best friends; spouses or potential spouses.  There is also the big question that they raise in the synopsis - what kind of tales will we spin to give us the lives that we want?

~I received a complimentary copy of From the Kitchen of Half Truth from Sourcebooks in exchange for my unbiased review.~

Check out some other reviews:
FROM THE KITCHEN OF HALF TRUTH – BLOG TOUR

April 1 – Luxury Reading
April 2 – Laura’s Reviews
April 4 – A Bookish Affair
April 8 – Cocktails and Books
April 10  - Broken Teepee
April 11 – Dew on the Kudzu
April 12 – Raging Bibliomania
April 15 - Daystarz
April 16 – Chick Lit Plus
April 22 – Books and Needlepoint
April 23 – Write Meg
April 26 – Bookmagnet


About the author:  Maria Goodin is the author of From the Kitchen of Half Truth. She trained to be a teacher and therapist before working as a counselor. Based on her award-winning short story, From the Kitchen of Half Truth was inspired by her interest in psychological defenses. Maria lives in Hertfordshire, England with her husband, son and cat. This is her first novel.

From the Kitchen of Half Truth
Publisher/Publication Date: Sourcebooks Landmark, April 1, 2013
ISBN:  978-1-4022-7948-5
339 pages

2 comments:

bermudaonion said...

Yours is the second or third positive review of this book that I've read. I'm adding it to my wish list.

Meg @ write meg! said...

I really enjoyed this one, too! The quirky stories were really fun -- the author is so creative. But beyond the humor, the story had lots of heart.

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