Tag Archives: Gabrielle Hamilton

Strong women, great memoirs

This past year I read four books written by strong women who have overcome some adversity, and then written about it, beautifully and eloquently.

The first was “Blood, bones, and butter: the inadvertent education of a reluctant chef” by Gabrielle Hamilton. Feisty and scrappy, Gabrielle survived an unconventional childhood to eventually open her own acclaimed restaurant in New York City: Prune. Her writing is amazing and provocative – and she really made me laugh.

Then there is “Wild: from lost to found on the Pacific Crest Trail” by Cheryl Strayed. Cheryl also had an unusual upbringing, in the rural northwest, led a life of sex and drugs in her early 20s, and to clean up her act embarked on the hike of a lifetime: a thousand mile journey from the California desert to the Oregon border. Her book is a page turner indeed.

Another beautiful blonde, Piper Kerman (who looks a lot like Gabrielle Hamilton), had a middle class upbringing, attended Ivy League Smith College, but then was seduced (literally) into the drug trade – 10 years after walking away from it she served a 13 month stint in a minimum security prison in Danbury, Connecticut. She writes about her experience in her book, “Orange is the new black : my year in a women’s prison,” in a winsome and articulate way, which makes you really have empathy not only for her, but for the amazing women incarcerated with her. Piper is using her experience there to help incarcerated women today, offering various sources of information at the back of her book. This book has been made into a series on Netflix.

Finally, there is the classic, “The Glass Castle: a memoir” by Jeannette Walls, which is the ultimate in a tale about overcoming poverty and being raised by mentally ill parents. One is amazed that Jeannette turned out as well as she did, and that she was able to write about it in such a humorous and memorable way. This book will soon be a movie, which will hopefully inspire everyone to read the book.Phoenix wall

All four of these books, which can be found at the Long Island Community Library, have similarities in the author, as well as being warm, humorous, entertaining, and above all, well-written.

We are What we Ate: A Maine Historical Society Reading and Discussion Program

Here’s a book group that I couldn’t resist – it combines two of my favorites: food and books!

We are What we Ate: A Maine Historical Society Reading and Discussion Program Facilitator: Larissa Vigue Picard, MHS Community Partnership Coordinator

Join us this January through May for our fourth annual MHS reading group. This year, we explore a topic that resonates across humanity, inspiring great passion and wide-ranging opinion–food! In non-fiction and fiction, we’ll examine how the food that has been envisioned, produced, sold, shared, cooked, and eaten in the past–whether by desire, tradition, deprivation, or other forces beyond one’s control–has influenced numerous aspects of life. In addition to a wide variety of short readings and excerpts which will be provided as handouts to participants, books include Blood, Bones & Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton; 97 Orchard by Jane Ziegelman; Something from the Oven by Laura Shapiro; and The Emperors of Chocolate, by Joel Glenn Brenner (Emperors is currently out of print but widely available used–and at your public library!). Discussion dates are January 22, February 26, March 26, April 23, May 28; time is 6:30PM. Registration is required by Friday, January 11. Participation is limited; the group has traditionally filled up quickly. Fee: $20 for MHS members; $25 for non-members. (Books will not be available through the MHS store; participants must supply these on their own.) For a complete reading list and a registration form, please visit http://www.mainehistory.org/programs_events.shtml#January.