Ruth Reichl is the author of three best-selling memoirs, Comfort Me With Apples, Tender at the Bone, and Garlic and Sapphires.
Reichl combs through her dead mother's diaries and correspondence, trying to understand the woman she remembered as bitterly unhappy. She realizes how stifling were the expectations on 1950s housewives and how her mother blamed her depression on her inability to seek meaningful work outside the home. The revelations are fascinating, but Reichl's effort would have been better served by a professional narrator. While her deep, slightly hoarse voice conveys emotion sufficiently, she is an awkward reader, prone to loading her sentences with wooden emphasis and reaching for amateurish dramatic effect. Readers are likely to be struck by her ability to see her mother so clearly and without sentimentality, but they won't lose themselves in the reading. A Penguin Press hardcover (Reviews, Mar. 9). (Apr.) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.
Restaurant critic Reichl (www.ruthreichl.com), whose three previous memoirs-Tender at the Bone (1998), Comfort Me with Apples (2001), and Garlic and Sapphires (2005)-were all best sellers, here stitches together the account of her mother's unhappy life from letters and notes she discovered after her mother's death. This brief but poignant title underscores the plight of intelligent women forced by societal expectations into leading unfulfilled lives. Although not a trained narrator, Reichl reads with knowing authority. Mothers and daughters interested in learning more about the restrictions placed on women during the mid-20th century as well as appreciators of Reichl's previous books should also enjoy this one. [Audio clip available through us.penguingroup.com; the Penguin Pr. hc, a New York Times best seller, received a starred review, Xpress Reviews, LJ 4/24/09.-Ed.]-Nancy R. Ives, SUNY at Geneseo Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.