Good Reading : December January 2015
GOODREADINGMAGAZINE.COM.AU GOOD READING DECEMBER 2014 / JANUARY 2015 60 BIOGRAPHY WOM word of mouth RATINGS ★ ★ ★★ ★★ ★★★ ★★★ ★★★★ ★★★★ ★★★★★ RG The Temporary Bride: A memoir of love and food in Iran Jennifer Klinec When I first saw this book I was filled with misgivings, thinking it might be an Iranian version of Eat, Pray, Love. But this quirky memoir drew me in with its story of mismatched lovers whose shared desire for flavour and adventure brings them together in the most unlikely of circumstances. Jennifer Klinec left her high-paying job in finance to follow her passion when she realised she was simply working to pay for holidays on which she sought increasingly exotic and ancient foods from around the globe. She started a cooking school in her converted warehouse apartment, and when we meet her, she is on a mission to explore the foods of Iran. Some may dismiss her quest as naive in the extreme as she disembarks in Iran with the hope of meeting a family who will take her home and teach her to cook. But that is exactly what happens. She meets a young man,Vahid, and his uncle, who invite her to the family home. She visits each day and is not only taught to cook by Vahid’s mother, but also eats with the family and is allowed to share in their daily routine. While initially dismissive,Vahid is drawn to Jennifer’s craving to lear n about his country’s culture and food, and as they explore together, they find themselves falling in love. The descr iptions of the exotic, colourful and bizar re flavours, sights and aromas of Iranian cuisine are beautifully wr itten, and the gentle love story that contrasts with the clash of cultures that under pins the tale takes this memoir beyond just another foodie adventure tale. ★★★ Virago $32.99 Reviewed by Maryanne Hyde Wfilled with misgivings, A Fig at the Gate Kate Llewellyn The beauty of this memoir by Kate Llewellyn is that, despite ostensibly focusing on her efforts to create bountiful gardens, it subtly explores much broader, more universal concerns. Its drawback – for the non- horticulturalist – is that there is an awful lot of gardening talk to wade through. A Fig at the Gate diarises Llewellyn’s efforts to cultivate a fruit and vegetable garden at her Adelaide home between 2009 and 2012. Having set out to create a space capable of sustaining herself and her loved ones, Llewellyn shares with the reader the moments that frustrate, bewilder and delight her on this quest. But these are the least interesting parts of the book. Instead, I was drawn to this septuagenar ian’s observations and reflections on life away from the garden. At the heart of the book are revelations such as her genuine shock on realising that her advancing years are no longer invisible to others, her childlike wonder at the antics of a family of sparrows outside her bedroom window, and the profound joy she der ives from companionship and conversation with much-cherished lifelong friends. Like previous works such as The Waterlily and Playing with Water, A Fig at the Gate is not for everyone. While sure to delight green thumbs, for those who are prepared to read on, it is a lesson in patience, simplicity and learning to live well. ★★★ Allen & Unwin $29.99 Reviewed by Heather Lunney A Fig at the Gate Kate Llewellyn TLlewellyn is that, despite ostensibly focusing on her efforts to create bountiful gardens, it subtly explores much broader, more universal concerns. Its drawback – for the non- December 2014/ January 2015 main December 2014/ January 2015 AUSTRALIAN AUTHOR Kate Llewellyn is a distinguished Australian poet and author who has created a genre of Australian nature writing unique to her. She also writes books on travel and art.