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August 29, 2007 8:38 PM   Subscribe

After a run of reading somewhat serious, oftentimes depressing fiction and nonfiction, I'm looking for something more domestic. Have any suggestions?

I'm in the mood for fiction or entertaining nonfiction that mentions the rituals of housekeeping or cooking, or both. The last book I read that follows this idea is Anna Quindlen's One True Thing. It's not the best example I'm sure, but the heroine's mother is a natural at cooking and crafting. Detailed descriptions of handmade needlepoint pillows and blue ceramic pie plates and the process of making lunch for the monthly woman's group, etc.

Contemporary titles or older works, all suggestions appreciated.
posted by LoriFLA to Writing & Language (19 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
Carol Shields: The Stone Diaries
posted by Rumple at 8:41 PM on August 29, 2007


It's reasonably serious in its own way, but a new book that speaks well and often to the details of daily domestic life is Aoibheann Sweeney's novel "Among Other Things, I've Given Up Smoking."

BTW, I have no idea how to pronounce the author's first name, apparently of Irish origin.
posted by Rain Man at 8:44 PM on August 29, 2007


I don't know if this qualifies AT ALL, but the Little House on the Prairie books detail making bread and other domestics.
posted by Sassyfras at 9:04 PM on August 29, 2007


Try anything by Laurie Colwin.
posted by annabellee at 9:06 PM on August 29, 2007


Foxfire magazine has some collections in book form that are interesting.

Also, if you're into fantasy/sci-fi flavored with a bit of teh ghey, check out Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series.
posted by infinitewindow at 10:17 PM on August 29, 2007


Under The Tuscan Sun. Recipes and everything!
posted by clh at 10:18 PM on August 29, 2007


On the definitely not depressing front:

By Eva Ibbotson, Countess Below Stairs and A Song For Summer.

Sophie Kinsella, The Undomestic Goddess might be a good fit.

The Sweet Potato Queens are an interesting bunch. With recipes.
Perhaps Like Water For Chocolate?

You might want to check out mysteries. I'm sure "genre mystery" isn't the right term but you've probably seen the paperbacks -- a bit thinner than average with cutesy covers etc. Check out the ones with punny titles -- there's a slew focusing on cooking and housework. Like Diane Mott Davidson -- who sucks by the way. But where you find her, you'll find other similarly themed titles.

Good luck :)
posted by whitneykitty at 11:06 PM on August 29, 2007


I adore "Like Water for Chocolate" and so you have to read it. I insist.

Joanne Harris, the author of Chocolat, also has two other books with food themes, set in the same French village: Blackberry Wine and Five Quarters of an Orange. I haven't read them, but they would be on my list for "gastromances" (not my term, I stole it from somewhere!).

I've also heard good things about Cucina (fiction) and The Man Who Ate Everything (non-fiction).

I also love and treasure my two Laurie Colwin cookbooks Homecooking (A Writer in the Kitchen) and More Homecooking.

And, of course, you mustn't overlook The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook!
posted by taz at 11:06 PM on August 29, 2007


Like Water for Chocolate is totally depressing but I did love it). How about Tender at the Bone, autobiography of Ruth Reichl? She was, among other things, an ex-commune hippy that became the restaurant critic for the New York Times despite a mother that was so taste-blind she would serve moldy food to house guests. I am also seconding the Little House on the Prairie series. Chock full of domestic life.
posted by Foam Pants at 12:15 AM on August 30, 2007


You might like Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life about her family's commitment to a year of eating only locally grown food.
In a similar vein with a 1900's twist is See You in a Hundred Years, recommended by special-k
Though more about small scale farming than domesticity, there is possibly enough cooking and putting food by (as well as community and animal husbandry) to satisfy. Both were fascinating, thought provoking reads.
posted by zoel at 3:01 AM on August 30, 2007


You know what? I just looked at my post, and it could easily be read that Joanne Harris wrote "Like Water for Chocolate" ... so, just to be clear, "Like Water for Chocolate" is by Laura Esquivel, and an entirely different book than Harris' "Chocolat". Doi.
posted by taz at 3:11 AM on August 30, 2007


Maybe The Secret Life of Bees?
posted by triggerfinger at 3:53 AM on August 30, 2007


There is a great new collection of stories about cooking called
ALONE IN THE KITCHEN WITH AN EGGPLANT: Confessions of Cooking for One and Dining Alone
by Jenni Ferari-Adler.
posted by enjoytroy at 4:05 AM on August 30, 2007


Seconding anything by Laurie Colwin.
posted by ambrosia at 7:44 AM on August 30, 2007


Seconding Secret Life of Bees. Also, maybe Mazel by Rebecca Goldstein.
posted by bassjump at 8:23 AM on August 30, 2007


While it's only about commercial cooking and not at all about housekeeping, I adored "Heat" by Bill Buford. And I didn't find it depressing at all.
posted by faceonmars at 10:11 AM on August 30, 2007


Thanks all. These sound like great suggestions. Time to go to the library.
posted by LoriFLA at 10:48 AM on August 30, 2007


Anything by Fannie Flagg. Please note that her books are less lame than the movies made of them; they're chock full of murders, rapes, lesbians and alcoholics, while still being the most gentle, domestic, sweet books I have ever read. They're my preferred "fluff" for padding more depressing books. I recovered from reading the horrifying Daughters of Juarez by reading her Can't Wait to Get to Heaven.
posted by Juliet Banana at 1:40 PM on August 30, 2007


Ruth Reichl has two sequels to her first memoir. Wanda Frolov's Katish and Samuel Chamberlain's Clementine in the Kitchen were reprinted a few years ago.
posted by brujita at 9:52 PM on August 30, 2007


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