Although set in the lush countryside and antiquated cityscapes of Italy, where happily-ever-afters are are as common as cappuccinos, Paula Butturini's memoir Keeping the Feast is not a love story.
Instead it's a story about what happens after the honeymoon phase of a marriage, when tragedy strikes and wedding vows – to love and to cherish, till death do us part -- are put to the test. It's a story about how a wife copes with the metaphorical “death” of her husband after he falls into a maelstrom of clinical depression, and how instead of giving up and leaving him to flounder alone, she finds strength and sanity through food and the preparation of meals. It's a story about survival through the darkest moments in a marriage and, in the end, it's a story about emerging from the darkness into light, hand in hand with your loved one.
In this Mediterranean country, where food is seen as a birthright and hearty meals are a defining staple in daily life, Butturini falls in love with fellow journalist John Tagliabue while both are working as foreign correspondents in Rome. After a whirlwind marriage John soon gets wounded by gunfire while on a separate assignment in Romania and the ensuing surgeries and treatments send him into a spiral of depression so deep he becomes a living ghost, a shadow of his former self. In Keeping the Feast, Butturini chronicles the loneliness she feels when she thinks she's lost John permanently to the depression, her memories rooted in family and food from her childhood in New Jersey, and her process of overcoming adversity and finally healing through cooking and (as cheesy as it sounds) love.
Italy has always held a special place in my heart. The country was a favorite destination of my family's during our European trips; when I was older and in college I studied abroad in Florence. And when J and I planned our wedding I wanted to make the day extra memorable so we booked tickets for our closest family members, rented a villa and had a Tuscan wedding that I still smile about nearly three years later. I can see, firsthand, how Italy would be the perfect backdrop for healing an individual and a marriage. Though I felt the ending of the book fell a little flat, it's worth a read if you're a foodie who enjoys salivating over vivid descriptions of Italian settings and gourmet cuisine. And even if food isn't your thing, we've all come to that crossroads in a relationship when we ask ourselves whether sticking it out through the bad times is worth it.
In Keeping the Feast it was. All you need is hope and a little bruschetta.
I'm giving away one free copy of Keeping the Feast for anyone who's interested!
How to Enter:
1.) Only US and Canadian residents can enter. Sorry international amigos, maybe next time.
2.) This giveaway is only open to readers of Brunette on a Budget, so you must be a follower of my random musings in some capacity or another (feed subscriber, a follower in the right-hand column of my blog through Google FriendConnect, etc.)
3.) Leave a comment below.
4.) Contest ends in one week, Thursday, January 28 at 12pm EST.
Once I get all the entries I'll choose the winner at random using a number generator. Good luck!
The past few weeks in books 3/24/17
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