Pretty Dishes


Read: A Homemade Life
February 14, 2010, 10:25 pm
Filed under: Books

I have read Molly Wizenberg’s Orangette blog off and on for a couple of years, though honestly I was pretty late to it. (I’m not exactly hip to the latest web/blog trends.) I heard that she had a book, A Homemade Life, and that it was really lovely, so I bought a copy soon after its release last March. It sat on my shelf for many months while I planned a wedding, honeymooned, worked a ton, and kept up with my monthly book club selections. Around the holidays I had a chance to select a book from the shelf to read just for me. I chose Molly’s.

It’s a wonderful book—well written, sincere, and engaging. Since I have never gone back to the start of Orangette, I didn’t know a lot of the backstory as far as why she started writing, or where her love of food stemmed from, or how she met her husband, with whom she recently opened Delancey. The book gave me all of this, though, and even though I know a number of the pieces in the book come directly from related posts on the blog, there is something the book provides that a blog can’t, since one is rarely plotted carefully from start to finish. There is a beautiful narrative flow to her stories, to her life, that work really nicely in chronological order in this compilation. The book begins with her childhood and her father’s influence in her life and ends with her falling in love with the man who would be her husband. The reader gets glimpses of her family, her travels, her meals, and her love life via her very natural, fluid storytelling.

The essays in A Homemade Life are quite brief (most are around 6 pages, including recipes), much like a blog post, which fits perfectly given how Molly made her writing name. It makes the book highly readable and easy to spread out over a longer period of time, indulging in a story here and there as time allows. It also made me, at least, keep wanting to go back to the book for more, and I didn’t want it to end.

While reviews on the whole are glowing, I was a little surprised to see some negative comments by readers asking why would they ever care about her life? I can’t imagine these people enjoy reading autobiographical writing/blogging much at all in that case, and the book isn’t a good choice if that’s so. Others called it too sentimental, though I would say it’s more a romanticized reflection on the past, and an endearing one at that. (I don’t think she’s likely to have an enormous male audience, however.) And it is true that a number of the essays and recipes appear on her blog in some form, though they are dispersed over several years of entries. In any case, if her posts keep your interest, the book is a worthy expansion. It will be released in paperback in late March.

To finish off, here are a few of the recipes from the book that especially caught my eye (none I’ve made yet), some of which are available at Orangette:

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