3.07.2011

A Homemade Life and The Romanovs: The Final Chapter

There has a been a flurry of reading in the Red Room Library this week, and I knocked out three books. My review of The Tiger's Wife is forthcoming from BookBrowse, and it is one of the most beautiful, most amazing books I have ever read. It hits stores tomorrow. Please buy it.

Now to the books that I can talk to you about today.

Molly Wizenberg, creator of Orangette, is a delightful writer. Reading her memoir is like having tea with a best friend. At times funny, heart-wrenching, and inspiring, A Homemade Life is a delicious ode to the power of cooking and the virtues of creating a community around the table. The memoir is divided into a series of chronological essays oriented around memory with corresponding favorite recipe, which is provided at the end of each section. (I've already made the chocolate wedding cake. Oh. My. Gosh. So. Good.) This is a quick read that is perfect for a rainy day or afternoon at the beach. This is also perfect if you're looking for inspiration to get back in the kitchen because after salivating over her delicious (and straightforward) recipes, you won't be able to stop yourself running to your stove.

Now to a completely unrelated reading experience. As mentioned before, I am a huge Russian history and literature buff, which has always struck me as amusing because I have no ties to Russia. (Though I do now as a married lady because my husband's paternal grandmother was Russian, and her mother was a Russian ballerina...oh la la!) My excursions into Russia history continued with Massie's 1995 Romanov's: The Final Chapter, a synthesis of the major developments in the history of the family since 1917. Information about Anna Anderson (she was a nut), the discovery of the bones with the subsequent DNA identification, and the Romanov relatives in exile are all included. At times, there is too much detail, but Massie does a stellar job of compiling the facts and assembling them in a readable way. One critic observed that the book reads like a crime thriller, and it no doubt has that atmosphere. This will be of interest to anyone who read Nicholas and Alexandra and wants to know the ultimate outcome or for folks who are generally interested in Russian, especially tsarist, history.
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