I really wanted to like this book, since The Joy of Cooking first taught me to cook more than the basics. The book clearly shows the immense effort Anne Mendelson put into researching the times and culture that produced Irma Rombauer. Unfortunately, the book spends too much time on the world around Mrs. Rombauer and not enough on the lady herself and the great book that is her legacy. I only read the first third of this book before giving up, but it's a 500 page book. I would have much preferred to read 166 pages just about the origins of The Joy of Cooking, and less about the class structures of immigrant life in the early United States.