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How to Eat a Small Country: A Family's Pursuit of Happiness, One Meal at a Time

3.1 of 5 stars 3.10  ·  rating details  ·  388 ratings  ·  117 reviews
"How to Eat a Small Country shares a few key traits with Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love in particular an infectiously likeable narrator and mouthwatering descriptions of European food. But Finley’s memoir is less precious, more honest, and ultimately more rewarding." -- Boston Globe

Aprofessionally trained cook turnedstay-at-home mom, Amy Finley decided on a whim to se
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ebook, 288 pages
Published March 29th 2011 by Broadway Books (first published January 1st 2011)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,441)
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Kathy
This book is a wonderful explanation of how you save a marriage. Not that you have to go live in France to get over marital troubles but you do have to be willing to sacrifice and work really hard. Though this book is marketed as a food memoir, and there is a lot of eating, it is the emotional maturation and strengthening of the marriage that catches you.
As a woman who feeds a family every day, how can I not love a book that includes the following passage?

"And seriously, what's scarier than fac
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Jillian
I was really excited about this book until I got about halfway through it. I loved the discussion of food, regions, and especially what it's like to do this type of trip with two small children in tow. Amy Finley's writing style is actually very genuine and easy to relate to, but her commentary on her relationship is very whiney. There's something about the way that she portrays herself throughout the entire novel that makes her look like a victim rather than a person in a marriage with problems ...more
Courtney
The idea of this book intrigued me: the story of a woman who walked away from what she thought she wanted (a glamorous career with her own tv cooking show) for what really mattered: her family. However, Amy Finley's story falls flat.

She briefly describes her short-lived rise to "fame" (I'd never heard of her before this book) and how somehow it was her husband's fault (and his alone) that they were on the brink of divorce, even though it was she who left her family behind to go to New York and l
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Marcy Peskin-Larkin
I was absolutely transported to a place where nothing was familiar. Not the food, the way of living, the scenery, the expectations - everything was something new and fresh.

I found the monologue about the author's family issues to be superfluous to the real content and crunch of the storyline. In most cases I could do without the descriptions of the children's less then perfect appearances or them knocking dejectedly on the neighbors door looking for playmates. I also felt that the author promot
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Dave
This book is bi-polar. The food and travel sections are good to great. The sections that deal with the author's family are just painful and drag the whole book down. The kids are undisciplined brats, who of course act out of control. I came to feel sorry for them as it became apparent that their needs were not being met. The mom/author has serious issues and seems headed for divorce, not fun to read about. It makes her very unsympathetic. Really, most of the family/personal stuff should have bee ...more
Laurie
I haven't even finished this book yet (my Nook is charging back up) but I can't wait to read more. The author won a 'win-your-own-cooking-show' contest in 2007 or so and it nearly destroyed her family. To save it, she and her husband dipped (majorly) into savings and took the two little kids with them to France for 6 months. Why France (why not)? Because that's where they met and fell in love, and it seemed like a good place to rebuild their family.

I love the honesty, the food info, the quirky s
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Donna
Gave up half way through after finding the author's descriptions of her unhappy marriage and undisciplined children tedious. The final straw was her temper tantrum over a waiter in a French restaurant changing out of his uniform and into his street clothes and appearing at their table, thus traumatizing her offspring. Like seeing Santa without his red suit or some such nonsense. I decided to quit wasting my time and find a better book about travel and food.
Heather
I disliked this book for so many reasons that it's hard for me to know where to begin in reviewing it. I think my biggest problem with it was that Finley is not a good story teller and so she doesn't draw the reader into her story or set up her story at all. She also doesn't show the reader the details she just tells, tells, tells. She also goes off on so many tangents that it's hard to figure out what she's talking about. Every chapter would start out something like: we were traveling to Bordea ...more
Melissa
I won this book through a goodreads giveaway. I was excited to read it since I had read a preview of it in Good Housekeeping a few weeks before I saw the giveaway.

This was a good book. It is Amy Finley's story about trying to save her marriage after hitting a huge bump caused by her winning Food Network's The Next Food Network's Super Star. She felt like going back to France with her husband and family would help them to start over. They spent their time there trying to heal their marriage and t
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David Ketelsen
I got a free copy of this book via a Goodreads contest.

This is a difficult book to review since it's so fragmented.

The author, Amy Finley, had a brief fling with fame when she sorta won the third season of The Next Food Network Star. Finley's troubled marriage led to her resigning from her new show The Gourmet Next Door. Interesting stuff, no?

Well none of that is in here but on the other hand the first 100 pages, more or less, are filled with annoying whining about her marriage and indirectly th
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Meijer Bjorn
Back in 2007 I was watching Amy Finley and other contestants compete to be the next Food Network Star. The whole time I was thinking she was seriously stressed and really thought she was going to quit. Now I why.

Finley's Book "How to Eat a Small Country" briefly talks about her Food Network Star experience and details her 160 day trip to France afterwards to try and save her marriage. It was a very difficult read for me. I applaud Amy's Honesty and willingness to share how she felt on her trip.
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Erin
Amy Finley was the winner of season three of The Next Food Network Star on the Food Network channel. She was given a contract for six shows and at the end of those six shows she gave up her dream of being a reality show chef. She packed up her family and moved to France for a year in an effort to save her marriage and re-discover her love of cooking French food.

After reading this book, I can see why her husband left her. I would have left her as well. I might have returned and rescued the kids
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Juliet
After a whirlwind courtship with a French man who supported her through culinary training in Paris and promised to show her the world, Amy Finley packed up her chef's knives and wanderlust to be a stay-at-home mom of two in a small cottage in her mother's San Diego backyard. She was doing everything she thought she was supposed to do and trying to ignore the fact that she wasn't exactly happy in her life. She stopped cooking, even for her own family, instead serving up "a tantalizing smorgasbord ...more
Mark Davis
It all seemed so far-fetched and impossible, so utterly unlikely. Professionally trained chef-turned-stay-at-home-mom Amy Finley, acting on a whim and over the objections of her husband, Greg, sent in an audition tape for Season Three of The Next Food Network Star.

Then the impossible came true when warm, friendly, accessible Finley won her own show, The Gourmet Next Door. It was a reality TV dream-come-true.

Except reality TV is rarely about what is real. While Finley smiled for the cameras and c
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Esmeralda
First, thank you Amy Finley for taking the time to write this book. You are a natural and this book was, well, I just ate it up.
Throughout the book Amy is living, traveling through, and most certainly eating in France. This is part of her plan in resuscitating her marriage to Greg and further just giving her time to think about everything. Family, desire for change, boundaries of marriage, the joys (and frustrations) of children.. but she uses food as a place where she brings all of that togeth
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Catherine
Finley and her husband take their two small children to France for an extended period of time, leaving their San Diego home, where they lived in the backyard of her mother’s house.

After watching season three of “The Next Food Network Star” and seeing Finley’s show, “The Gourmet Next Door,” I was curious why she decided to leave. This book doesn’t really answer the question. She hinted that her husband didn’t want her to do the show and discouraged her from continuing. Perhaps in an effort to sav
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Julie
On the front jacket, the publishers have written "A family's pursuit of happiness, one meal at a time". It wasn't the impression that I came away with from this book.

Amy is a young mother of two, who tries out for a food network competition to win a job hosting her own show. After making six episodes of her new show, the pressure on her husband and children is ready to implode her marriage. So they pack up and move to France for a year, to regroup and travel around and sample the local food.

Some
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Erdahs
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book for review purposes through Goodreads Firstreads.

I enjoyed How to Eat a Small Country quite a bit. I liked Amy's voice and found her to be a sympathetic narrator. While a good part of the book is centered around her family, the majority of it concentrates on food. I really appreciated that the author was able to focus on the history of food traditions and preparations, and their decline, while maintaining an educational, but not preachy, tone. The
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Jocelyn Doddridge
First of all, I'd like to thank Goodreads--I was so excited to see this in my mailbox! I am a foodie, and of all the books I tried to win, this one was the one I especially was looking forward to reading! I thought this book was well written. It had all of the foodie-aspects that I love, but it also had an interesting story along with it. At times, Amy's writing felt so realistic that it was almost too difficult to read. You could almost feel the tension that was between her and her husband. I e ...more
Ina
The author is coming to give a talk at my library and so I thought I would check out her book. What a great find. This is so much more than a travel memoir - there are wonderfully detailed descriptions of french food and the french countryside. There were the extremely funny descriptions of country life and travel through a foreign country with one big dog and two small children. Then there is the reflection on the author's life, goals and relationships. All of this is told in an engaging style. ...more
JDK1962
3.5 stars, but I'll round up. Interesting account of her family's stay in rural France, and travels throughout the country to experience French cuisine. As someone who cooks for my own family, I enjoyed the detail, even though I'm not a French-style cook (e.g., I loathe wine). Strangely, the book started out in one direction, where the focus appeared to be on healing a marriage...but that theme seemed to vanish about halfway through the book, and the focus went more toward food. The author is an ...more
Amy
Loved this one! Read it after finishing a few pretty dense books, so this sort of book was ideal. I really enjoyed Finley's show on Food Network, and I've always wanted to understand more about why she didn't renew it when the network offered. Many readers complain that Finley whines and plays victim throughout the whole book and throughout all the drama with her husband, but let's be honest... female readers drink this stuff up and adore it, even if they don't care to admit it. This book was a ...more
Emily Leathers
Apr 16, 2011 Emily Leathers rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: foodies
Shelves: first-reads, owned
A fun, quick read. Part travelogue, part food history, part non-fiction about the author's family. The first two topics were definitely, definitely better than the third. But since she was writing after the fact, at least we didn't have to deal with horribly emotional tellings of those sections.

My only real negative feedback was the sense that I got from the author's writing style that she doesn't really respect her husband or children. Given that a lot of her discussion was about how she was fi
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Scputval
Couple with children tries to save their marriage by going to France to eat?
I found both husband and wife mildly unpleasant. Some nice writing, though,
especially about coming through for the hungry people in your life day after day.
However, too much relationship stuff for me - balance and tone of book seems off.
Reminds me of Julie Powell's book "Cleaving," where she mixes floundering marriage
with student butchering, but I liked Powell's book more.
E
I met Amy at a UCLA Dinner for 12 Strangers; this was just a few weeks before her book was published. I put her book on my "to read" list right away. We're going to the Basque country and Provence in a few weeks so I was especially interested in her tales of eating their way around France. I enjoyed the book very much; having met Amy, I pictured her telling the story. Putting her marriage back together was an intriguing part of the story too.
Laura
This took me several months to finish, because I kept putting it down and having no interest in going back to it other than to see if it got better at the end. Hint: it didn't. This felt very self-indulgent and more a case of "author wants to keep a diary but it somehow got published because she's a celebrity" than a book that others would be interested in reading.
Danie P.
Winner of a Food Network show who had the opportunity to create her own cooking show, then dropped it because her husband didn't want a public life (which made me super angry) moves to France for a year to take culinary trips and live.
I really loved the descriptions but was upset as to how her husband could have squashed her dreams and how she let him.
Maria
I just loved this book maybe because I related to Amy's constant worrying, panic and sometimes dread which she primarily dealt with in her head. The references to the dying cooking methods of France made me very sad to think that the US isn't the only country now losing its cooking traditions.
Lisa
I really enjoyed the author's angst and personal growth as she made her way through this year. I also loved reading about her food adventures and learned a lot! great to read right before a trip to france.
Becky
In the wake of leaving her Food Network show, Amy Finley takes her family to France to try and rebuild their relationships as they eat their way across the country. An excellent food memoir.
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Does anyone know the maker and pattern of dishes on the cover? 1 13 Feb 06, 2011 02:53AM  
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Amy Finley (born 1973 in San Diego, California) is a cook and writer who was the winner of the third season of The Next Food Network Star and was thus awarded a commitment to host a cooking show on the Food Network. Her program, The Gourmet Next Door, premiered on October 14, 2007 and aired for six episodes before Finley, citing a family crisis, controversially cancelled further episodes and moved ...more
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