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Lilla's Feast: One Woman's True Story of Love and War in the Orient
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Lilla's Feast: One Woman's True Story of Love and War in the Orient

3.61 of 5 stars 3.61  ·  rating details  ·  192 ratings  ·  55 reviews
At the end of her life, Frances Osborne’s one-hundred-year-old great-grandmother Lilla was as elegant as ever–all fitted black lace and sparkling-white diamonds. To her great-grandchildren, Lilla was both an ally and a mysterious wonder. Her bedroom was filled with treasures from every exotic corner of the world. But she rarely mentioned the Japanese prison camps in which ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published September 13th 2005 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published September 1st 2004)
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Leah
For a first book, Lilla's Feast is a pretty exceptional achievement.

Osborne said that she originally intended the story of her great-grandmother to be the basis for a novel, but that it was so exceptional that she felt it couldn't be written any other way.
The result is a chatty, readable story of a woman's life, with all the accoutrement of tragedy, family, photographs and secrets that one would expect in a hundred-year life, played out heart-wrenchingly against the backdrop of the tumultuous
...more
Heather
This is a fascinating recounting of the life of an ordinary British woman who lived through life in the China treaty ports, both World Wars, and many other important historical events across the globe. It is a story "of what large-scale history does to the small-scale people caught up in its events." Lilla became a strong and determined woman who wanted the best for her family. We get to see what her life was like as a British colonial, who ultimately felt more at home in China than in Britain.

M
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W.
เพราะเธอ(ผู้เขียน)ไม่ได้เล่าเรื่องของเธอ เธอเล่าเรื่องของย่า
เรื่องของย่าในอดีตถูกปะติดปะต่อด้วยหลักฐานบางอย่าง
ที่ผสมมุมมองของเธอ ณ ปัจจุบัน
เธอรู้ไปเสียทุกเรื่องแบบพระเจ้า
และยิ่งชัดเจนว่าเธอตีความเหมือนทนาย แต่เธอก็เป็นทนายที่มีหัวใจ

การนำประวัติศาสตร์เข้ามาในบางช่วงแหว่งวิ่น ไม่ได้ให้ตรรกะกับเรื่องที่จะเล่าต่อไป
เธอทำให้เห็นประเด็นที่อยู่ในความสนใจของตะวันตกสมัยที่เธอเขียนไม่ใช่สมัยย่าเท่าไรนัก
แต่นับว่าเธอทำงานได้ดีและเธอทำงานมากทีเดียวกับการทำความเข้าใจชีวิตของย่า

W.

Lyn Elliott
It took me a while to work out what I wanted to say here about this book, which was discussed by my book group a couple of weeks ago.
We all enjoyed it - a fascinating set of stories about life for foreigners in China's Treaty ports in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; attitudes and customs of the English rulers of India during the British raj and their connections back in the home country. Lilla herself proved herself to be remarkably resilient through the various disasters that
...more
Vivien
I read this because Lilla was married to my great uncle Ernie Howell. A bit of a shit really as he married her for her money and then discovered she didn't have any! Consequently he was not very nice to her for quite a while. Anyway they lived in India for a while and then after he died she travelled the world ending up in China (where she was born) in the 1930s. She was imprisoned by the Japanese during the war and had a pretty awful time. So her story is interesting but Frances Osborne's style ...more
Bruce
Frances Osborne relates the story of her great-grandmother's life as a British citizen raised in China caught my interest for all of its similarities to my own mother's story. Both of them grew up in China during the European imperialist era and were in Japanese internment camps during WW II. Lilla Jennings grew up in Chefoo, the town my aunt's boarding school was in so I was also interested to see her description of it.

I enjoyed the book and found it an interesting read, well written and engagi
...more
Philippa
Review published in the New Zealand Herald, 16 October 2004

Lilla's Feast
Frances Osborne
(Random House, $59.95)

Reviewed by Philippa Jamieson

Imagine spending three years in a prison camp in China, held by the Japanese during World War II, with freezing winters, blazing summers and torrential rainy seasons, dwindling food rations, cramped conditions and appalling hygiene. As the starving prisoners dreamed of food, one woman in the camp typed out recipes on tissue-thin ricepaper, which were gathered
...more
Kiwiflora
The author was 13 when her great grandmother, Lilla, died in 1982 at the age of 100. Anyone who lives to this age has a story or two to tell, and Lilla had many. Born in China at the height of the might of the British Empire, Lilla's life mirrors the upheavals that change the fortunes of Britain forever. Her life experiences would not necessarily be unique for a woman of her class and background, but regardless, they still make a great story and deserve to be recorded. The thing about Lilla, is ...more
Pamela
This is the story of an ordinary woman who lived through some extraordinary times--100 years of them! Written by her great-granddaughter, her life encompasses three countries, two world wars, three husbands (or maybe it was just two and a fiancee) and an internment camp.

There are things I liked about this book and things I didn't. First the bad news: I found the author overdrawing her conclusions about how her great-grandmother might have felt at times. She was also over dramatic about it. I fo
...more
Marg
In the Imperial War Museum in London there is an item that is described as "The house wife's dictionary and suggestions". It is a recipe book that was typed up on any scrap of paper that the author could get hold of and works through a variety of different chapters from soups to curries to roasts, tips for entertaining, desserts and cakes and so much more. Really what makes this item fascinating though is where it was written and who it was written by.

The where it was written is from within a Ja
...more
Polly
Written by a great niece,this book attempts to reconstruct the story of Lilla, an identical twin girl, who was born to British treaty port residents in China in the late 1800s. It tells of her marriage to a military man and her time in Calcutta and in northern India, her times in England and her return to the port in China that felt like home to her. It takes her through times of plenty and times of poverty and the occupation of China by Japan during world War II. She and her elderly second husb ...more
Ellie Stevenson
Lilla’s feast is indeed a feast - a feast of words. This rich biography of Frances Osborne’s great-grandmother, is full of stories, of an amazing woman, born in China, who married two men and buried another and spent two years in a prisoner of war camp. She kept her faith by writing recipes for sumptuous meals, reminding people of a world long gone, and sustaining herself through the long hard years, when food was scarce. Lilla lived to be over 100.

‘yearning for a single gulp of Chefoo air that
...more
Mimi
A dear friend and I were discussing paraphrasing a few days ago, and the fact that to write well and persuasively, you need to be able to paraphrase the research you have learned so that you are in control of the story or essay.

This is a lesson that Frances Osbourne needed to learn. She has a very interesting topic in her great-grandmother, who was born and raised as a British Expat in China, and lived in India for several years during her young adulthood. During World War II, she was imprisoned
...more
Adri
Very interesting book. To my shame I must admit that I never knew, or perhaps did not take notice of, the European presence in China. And it saddens me to know that again they acted like they had the right to appropriate that which belonged to others. But it is not a trait only of Europeans, the more I read the more
I realise that every nation has the greedy need to extend their boundaries and to usurp power.

There, that was my little rant. But Lilla must have been a remarkable woman. So many obs
...more
Lynn
Loved it - even more readable than "The Bolter", this biography features Frances Osborne's other great grandmother, Lilla Eckford, and her upbringing and travels throughout the ex-patriot communities of the British Empire. The most poignant section is Lilla's internment in a Japanese POW camp in China - and the hardships which gave rise to Lilla's imagining a great 'feast' - hence the title. Lilla loved cooking, and her camp recipe book now resides in the Imperial War Museum.
As a child, Frances
...more
Kate Murphy
I found this quite an interesting read as I don't know much about the treatment of Westerners in China in the Second World War. Oddly though (especially for me) I didn't find the author's attempts to tie in her great-great-grandmother's recipe book (written in a Japanese internment camp in China in WW2) particularly interesting, and they were overly laboured. Also, I didn't believe that the author had any concept of cooking herself! It was almost as if those bits had been written by someone else ...more
Camelia Rose
I really enjoyed this biography. Westerners not only born and raised in China but also consider China as their only home? Life of early treaty-porters? China-hands? Difference between life in China and India for British colonists ? Concentration camp setup by Japanese for westerners (Americans, British, etc...) during the Sino-Japanese war? It was for me a new kind of story.

I like the writing style of too. The characters are vivid and full of life. It was written in a very honest tone and I can
...more
Mia Tryst
Dec 04, 2007 Mia Tryst marked it as to-read
Synopsis: Story of Lilla (grandmother) born in China in 1882, lived to be 100. Privilege, deprivation, good and bad marriages, evil mother-in-law, lived in India, China and England, prisoner in Japan for 4 years. Wrote a cookbook that is now in the Imperial War Museum in London, which helped her through those years. This is a rich evocation of the history of the now lost world that was life in the British Empire in the Far East, and captures the stories of a lost generation of women.
Shonna Froebel
Not what I thought it would be at all, less food and more biography.
Author's passion makes up for what it sometimes not good writing.
About her great-grandmother.
Casey
I was disappointed by this book. The cookbook that is spoken of so much is in the end a very minor occurence. I also became weary of the phrases "she would have been thinking...", " she would have wondered...." and so forth. I do think Lilla had a very interesting life but I really didn't like the way the book handled presenting it. I hate to speak too poorly of someone putting all the effort into writing a book, where was her editor?
Norah
I was attracted to the title of this book as Lilla was my mother-in-law's name and she also spent some years in China and had 3 children there. She and her husband were missionaries with China Inland Mission. I thought it would interest her son who was born there, and listening to the audiobook (which I found in Oxfam!) I realised some of the place names were the same as those I had heard she had lived in!
Nanchez
A friend recommended this -- she knew I enjoyed historical-fiction-type stories, although, this is not fiction, rather a memoir of a strong, turn-of-the-century woman who grew up in China as a British alien...amazing story written by the woman's great granddaughter. Will be reading the author's 2nd book about her great aunt soon. Can't remember the title...will add when I find out.
Marge
Most interesting memoir of a well to do British subject stationed in China at the start of WWII. She is imprisoned and saves herself from insanity by recollecting dishes that she has been served by servants and writing down the recipes .
It gives a fascinating insight into the lives of the upper class British subject in the foreign service. It relates true "stiff upper lip" attitude.
Shirley
This was a fascinating first book about the author's grandmother and her family. It is a wonderful description of what life was like as an Englishwoman who grows up in China and a moving account of life during the Japanese occupation. The theme of food is woven throughout the book, as Lilla wrote down her family recipes while she was in the concentration camp.
Mary Ann
This bio has everything lacking in Osborne's novel, Park Lane; she is unquestionably a talented writer, but where Park Lane seems flat and uninspired, Lilla's Feast sparkles with imagination and empathy. One cannot help being drawn into the story of this indomitable woman whose life spanned so much history. I loved it; I haven't yet read The Bolter, but I intend to.
Mrs J
This is a fabulous book, an amazingly wide ranging story following the incredible life of a fascinating woman. Such an illuminating insight into an area of history that I've only read peripherally about previously. Well written and captivating, my only criticism would be that not enough of Lilla's cookbook was included. I'll be recommending this one.
Lauren
My grandmother also grew up in Cheefoo, so I've grown up with her stories. Lilla would have been almost a generation older than my grandmother, but it was still incredibly interesting to hear another perspective on the area, the people, the Western influence in Asian seaport towns, and the role of women - American women - at the time.
Kathleen McRae
a chatty read interesting account of life in china and india during the era of the Raj and british influence in china. It is also an interesting account of that period from a womans point of view.Woman had very few choices to follow in feeling themselves of value in that society and very little control an interesting b ook
Catherine
Frances Osborne gathered information about her great-grandmother (Lilla) from relatives and research and assembled this entertaining biography. Some of the material had to be assumed and presumed because her grandmother was unable to talk about many of her experiences, but Lilla's legacy was a very interesting to read.
Tori
2009- I was at first quickly drawn into this story of the author's grandmother's life. However, as I continued to read I though that a novelization, rather than a biographical-type style, might have made this story more interesting to read. Not a bad read, but there was a few sections in the middle that were slow.
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Frances Osborne was born in London and studied philosophy and modern languages at Oxford University. She is the author of two biographies; Lilla's Feast and The Bolter: Idina Sackville. Her first historical novel, Park Lane, will be published Summer 2012. Her articles have appeared in The Daily Telegraph, The Times, The Independent, the Daily Mail, and Vogue. She lives in London with her husband, ...more
More about Frances Osborne...
The Bolter: Edwardian Heartbreak and High Society Scandal in Kenya Park Lane The Family Gourmet

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