How frustrating to start a book and be completely interested only to have it slowly fall off bit by bit until you feel cheated. Hamilton starts off stHow frustrating to start a book and be completely interested only to have it slowly fall off bit by bit until you feel cheated. Hamilton starts off strong, delving into a completely quirky, dysfunctional and educational childhood surrounded by good food and good parties. From there she moves on to an equally intriguing and still dysfunctional adulthood, all the while simultaneously trying to both distance herself and engage herself in the food world. Her teenage years and twenties provide good gossipy fodder, and as she grows up and into a restaurant owner, I couldn't help but think how much I would love to have her cook for me one evening at her East Village restaurant Prune. Her desire to know and make good food that doesn't hide behind frills seemed right up my alley.
I wish she could have just stopped there with her story. Because then she starts to get on her soapbox. For paragraphs at a time. Twice I actually felt uncomfortable reading her rants, and often I found myself skimming entire pages until they were done. It almost felt gratuitous at points. The latter part of the book focused mainly on her loveless marriage of convenience and haste to an Italian man. While Hamilton was clearly trying to tie her culinary experiences in Italy each summer (spent with his family) into her autobiography of a "reluctant chef" it often fell flat and only made her look bitter and ungrateful. By the end of the book, I had tired of her and her writing, and sadly no longer really cared about eating at Prune.
I gave this a 3 only because I really did enjoy the first half so much. But once the Italian comes into the picture, I recommend putting it down. You won't miss much and will probably like Hamilton a lot more for it....more