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The Seasoning

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On my eightieth birthday, Jonathan gave me a notebook. Hard-backed with brown and pale yellow marbling on the cover, like chocolate in cream.

'I want you to write something for me,' said Jonathan, his dark eyes locking onto mine. 'I want you to write your story, Mam.'

Peggy's story is the story of her Snowdonia village – of a community that that shares its joys and its woes across floured kitchen tables and scrubbed shop counters.

Throughout Peggy's life food looms large – the lack of it, the sharing of it, the eating of it – from gingerbread to cawl, ce-cream to bara-brith. Her recipes are well-used and much ppreciated, but no one is quite sure where her inspiration comes from, why she is the way she is.

Not until everyone's tale is told does Peggy's story unfold... as thick, dark and sticky as treacle.

268 pages, Paperback

First published May 1, 2012

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Manon Steffan Ros

76 books54 followers

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5 stars
126 (65%)
4 stars
43 (22%)
3 stars
20 (10%)
2 stars
1 (<1%)
1 star
1 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 33 reviews
Profile Image for Aina Rosdi.
Author 3 books33 followers
August 4, 2015
One of the best novels, I've ever read!

This book is a serious, must-read. If you're looking for a food & fiction kind of novel, this is it!

An English translation from the Welsh 'Blasu' written by the same author, I think The Seasoning had made me feel like I wanted to read all the author's other works, but sadly they are all in Welsh.

I've heard of Tywyn before (which is one of the town mentioned numerous of times in the novel), although I'd never set foot there. Reading this; of the beautiful scenery described, of the prom, the spring, the winter and the landmarks, I was coaxed gently bit by bit that I'd like to visit the town someday.

For me, this book hold a taste of everything. There are mysteries, a sense of families and the importance of it, motherhood, love, mental illnesses, friendship between two women of different characters and for the first part of the novel; the presentation of a girl's childhood in a traditional Welsh countryside. Everything of these are described in deep details which I truly adore the author for.

In The Seasoning, I had a mixture of emotion and that had been the greateast experiences of all. I cried towards the end! I was in awe whenever Peggy and Francis, seemed so right together (a perfect image of a marriage). It tickles my taste buds with all the recipes and the cooking throughout the novel and when Jonathan entered the scene; his equal shared passion with Peggy, I thought he was one of my favourite characters after Peggy and Francis.

I would recommed this book! Hurrahs to the author!

Profile Image for Annette.
176 reviews5 followers
August 28, 2015
The Seasonings by Manon Steffan Ros was a Goodreads first reads giveaway

I found this a beautifully written, poignant and moving story. The main character is Peggy and her life if told by through the voices of people around her – her family, friends and acquaintances, as well as by herself.

The first chapter introduces everyone as flashbacks in Peggy’s memory, which helps pace the narrators of each chapter. Food is featured in the story, in fact each chapter begins with a recipe. As a child she was deprived, not only of human contact, but of food. After it was apparent that her mother could not cope with her, she went to live with her grandparents, who were strangers to her. She discovered food, and throughout her life gorged on food as if it was an uncertainty and might disappear. Food and the scent of it bring back memories.

She has been deeply traumatised by her mother, who in turn was affected by her parents, who cut off contact with her, although it’s not clear why. Although this affected Peggy’s life, she has no knowledge of it, so it is not in her story.

She found love and was happily married, with children and friends, but was always concerned that she might have inherited the instability of her mother.

I love the descriptive style it is written in. The description of the places in the book, the village and her grandparents farm are very well depicted, you can almost imagine you are there. The passage when she realises her lie is coming to an end is especially sad – a softness to the edges of life, like energy spent; colours less bright as if grey was bleeding into everything. She realises she will soon not be there, but the landscape she loves will continue. She leaves behind her memories and her recipes, so to some extent she lives on.
Profile Image for Pamela.
1,276 reviews
August 30, 2015
This was a free copy from a Goodreads First Reads giveaway.

A beautifully written and sensitive account of one woman's life, told through the recipes that formed a focal point of her story. Peggy has a troubled childhood, neglected and hungry, and struggles all her life to understand the events that have left their mark on her. The setting is a Welsh village but the themes of the novel are universal ones - poverty, mental illness, love, friendship and family - and are addressed without sentimentality, in a way that deeply engages the reader.

Peggy's story unfolds through the eyes of others, family and friends who encounter her through the years, and each of their accounts is prefaced by a recipe that relates to the story. Food is integral to the narrative, it comforts and consoles as Peggy confronts difficulties and disappointments. I loved the vivid descriptions of the ingredients and how they reflected the events in the novel. The characters are so skilfully developed through the episodes described, especially Peggy's loving husband Francis and her friend Annie.

This novel was originally written in Welsh and has now been issued in English. I am so glad it has, as it is a real gem that deserves as wide an audience as possible. I was totally gripped by this book and captivated by Peggy and the other characters. A great read.

Profile Image for Suze.
1,878 reviews1,311 followers
October 15, 2015

It's 2010 and Peggy's son Jonathan asks her to write down her life story. It started in 1937 with a piece of ginger cake. The young Peggy is afraid of her mother. She is a neglected child and her mother ignores her presence. After a horrible incident Peggy asks for help, because she can't take it any longer. Later her life is a lot happier, but she can't forget the past.

Peggy's unusual appearance and low weight are something that doesn't go unnoticed. She loves food and can never stop eating, but she's really thin. A better period starts for her when she's almost an adult and Peggy is free to go wherever she likes. As she loves her work in the village shop she stays in Llanegryn and marries the shop owner. With him Peggy can be herself, but her past keeps influencing her present...

Every person who plays an important role in her life also has a recipe to share. Food and people are always related in Peggy's world. Peggy is eccentric. Her looks are peculiar, her behavior is strange and her relationship with food isn't just one filled with love. Peggy has a darker side and slowly the truths are being revealed. They are alternated with delicious food in the form of recipes from people who love Peggy. I enjoyed that very much. It made me fall in love with this book straight away. The warmth of the people is visible through the food they like to eat.

I love the recipes in The Seasoning. They are simple with fresh ingredients and easy instructions. For me the food made the story. There's no Peggy without something to eat. The recipes made my mouth water. The deliciousness of food in combination with the difficult topic of mental illness and the consequences of living with someone who's suffering from it is a daring combination. I think it worked really well in Peggy's case and Manon Steffan Ros is such a talented author. I was glued to my seat, I couldn't stop reading. At the same time I wanted to start cooking, but I couldn't put the book away and wanted to finish the story even more. The Seasoning is a book filled with delightful contrasts, which is what I loved about it. I highly recommend this fantastic book. I can't praise it enough, it's one of those hidden gems, a book to treasure and to read again and again.

My advice is to read this book from cover to cover first and then read it again more slowly by making the recipes one by one to eat while reading their corresponding chapters. I think that would be a unique experience and it's one I'm definitely going to explore.
Profile Image for Menna.
67 reviews
June 3, 2013
Stori hyfryd am fenyw, ei theulu a'i chymuned.
Pegi yw'r prif gymeriad yma ac mae Steffan-Ros yn ein tywys ni o hamgylch ei bywyd mewn ffordd hollol hudolus. Do'n i ddim eisiau hwn i orffen!
Profile Image for Bookfan36.
304 reviews
June 24, 2019
Brief synopsis from the book cover:
Peggy is eighty and the family is having a birthday party. Her son's gift of a beautifully crafted notebook comes with a request… Peggy's not so keen on telling her own story, but each of her family and neighbours has a story to tell, revealing not just Peggy's life but that of her village, tucked beneath Cader Idris on the southern fringes of Snowdownia. Bookended by Peggy's own shocking testimony, each chapter has a different voice and a different take on events, from the jolly fat woman who is feeding not just Peggy but her own sense of emptiness, to the generous shopkeeper and his young son, who has had his eye on Peggy for a long time, and Peggy's best friend, who's not sure she's cut out for marriage to the church and its curator. As the village voices fill out the picture of life in Llanegryn, slowly the reader realises that all is not well, and that Peggy's eccentricities have a terrible dark secret hidden behind them - and not just that she was a neglected child.

My rating:

Story: 4 out of 5 stars
Writing: 4 out of 5 stars
Character development: 4 out of 5 stars
Overall: 4 out of 5 stars


The Book has a fresh and original concept. Each chapter starts with a recipe and then tells a piece of Peggy’s story from the perspective of one of the long list of people that are part or where part of Peggy’s life. The book touches on subjects such as poverty, mental illness, family bonds, but also love and loyalty. The main tread throughout the book is the bonds that are created through the enjoyment food and how it brings people together. The book was well written, the characters were vividly depicted. This made them easy to relate to and made it hard to put the book down. If you like literary fiction or historical fiction, you will like this book.
264 reviews2 followers
August 22, 2020
This book tells the story of Peggy's life in a small welsh village. From age 6 when she sought help from neglect by her mentally ill mother until her final day. Each section of her story is written from the point of view of another person in her life - friends, relatives, locals. Each chapter begins with a recipe which is signiciant for that part of her life. This sounds like a clunky explanation but it is a slightly different way of writing a book and I enjoyed it thoroughly.
Peggy is a complex character who is damaged by early years. Consequently her interactions with other characters are interesting and in some cases quite odd. She is a very interesting person and I really enjoyed looking at her life from other people's viewpoint.
I thought this was well written and very interesting. There is plenty of complexity of characters and some interesting plot twists.
I received a free copy of this book via Netgalley.
Profile Image for Rich.
644 reviews2 followers
March 16, 2023
Really loved this translation. It starts with a son giving his mother a journal so that she can recount her life and jumps right in with an adult--who resolves to punish an unpleasant shopkeeper by feeding the entire village--finding a dusty little girl at her door needing an adult to respond. This little girl's story is told through recipes, each associated with people she impacts. It's Welsh. It's quaint. It's bucolic. It's heartbreaking. And it's relatable. As if "It's a Wonderful Life" had no ghost and wasn't so saccharine.
626 reviews
December 27, 2016
Life in a small village in Wales, stories around one person whose childhood and adult life was in this village. From sadness to joy, with characters who a living, or damaged, this books reflects lots of different experiences in life, but so well threaded to show unconditional love, redemption, and hope for future life to be different from historical life.
Profile Image for Melinda.
37 reviews4 followers
February 12, 2023
I love this author. I stumbled upon her only other book that was translated to English, The Blue Book of Nebo. I loved it so much, which is why I read The Seasoning. Her characters, flawed and beautiful. The writing, lyrical and filled with emotion. A purely joyful read that will stay with me for a long time.
Profile Image for Sharon Cook.
31 reviews
May 12, 2019
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, the story, the recipes, all of it was a feast for the senses! Their were a few threads I had hoped would have been tied off at the end but it didn't spoil my enjoyment.
Profile Image for Sandra Lindsey.
Author 7 books2 followers
July 28, 2020
Skilled writing, vivid characters, and a hauntingly realistic tale of a life lived in a Welsh village across eight decades.
I'm not sure the party/notebook framing of the story worked for me but that's just personal taste.
Profile Image for Lois Hughes.
34 reviews4 followers
December 18, 2020
Gwych gwych gwych!!! Teimlo pob math o emosiwn yn darllen hwn! Yn aml iawn yn ffeindio fy hun ddim eisiau ei roi i lawr ond yn gorfod oherwydd gwaith. Ffeindio fy hun yn ddargreuol yn aml. Hollol ffab o lyfr!
Profile Image for Erika.
223 reviews
May 5, 2018
Loved this book, a great story and characters. Heartwarming, recipes, about Love, food, family, life. Couldn't put it down!
Profile Image for Kirstin.
535 reviews
October 17, 2016
Bought while on holiday in North Wales and this is a delightful read. The story of a village in Snowdonia through the times, mainly centred on Peggy and each chapter is told by a different person at a different time. It's about love, loss, friendships, mental illness but mostly about food - cakes, iceceams, stews and as a wee bonus the recipes are included as well.
Profile Image for Alice Kalkuhl.
Author 7 books3 followers
March 19, 2017
Telling the story of a village is difficult but reading "The Seasoning" is like being there. The book is great and provides a beautiful, yet melancholic perspective on Snowdonia.
Profile Image for Jody.
333 reviews113 followers
May 27, 2016
Review first posted on my blog 'A Spoonful of Happy Endings': http://spoonfulofhappyendings.blogspo...

'The Seasoning' is a story spread out over several decades, starting in 1937 and ending around 2010, and focusing on main character Peggy. Set in a village in Snowdonia, young girl Peggy is struggling to take care of her mother and herself. After a horrible accident, Peggy goes to live with her grandparents which is the start of some changes in her life. As a reader, we get to follow Peggy and the people close to her, watch her grow up and make changes that affect both her and the people around her.

I don't want to give away too much about the plotline of 'The Seasoning', because I truly believe it's a story you just need to read and experience for yourself. Author Megan Steffan Ros originally wrote the novel in Welsh and this is the English translation of the book. I'd love to be able to read the original, because I'm sure it's even more powerful, but Welsh is unfortunately not one of my strong points! The novel primarily focuses on main character Peggy and her life in a smal village in Snowdonia from roughly 1937 until 2010. Food plays an important role in her life and this specifically comes back in the book in the form of recipes at the start of each chapter.

Each person that somehow played an important role in Peggy's life is linked to a recipe in the book, and each recipe is the start of a new chapter told from the perspective of a different character. In that way, the story is told from various different points of view which is an approach I loved and have never come across before in a novel. Manon Steffan Ros is a talented author who really blew me away with her writing. The Welsh setting reminded me personally of all the lovely times I've had in Wales, but the story as a whole also really touched me. I want to give a special thanks to publisher Honno for sending me a review copy of this book; I'm really glad I got the chance to read it! 'The Seasoning' is a beautifully written and touching work of fiction, unlike anything else I've read before; undoubtedly worth picking up!
Profile Image for Michelle.
83 reviews
September 10, 2015
This was a free copy from a Goodreads First Reads giveaway.

This book was written in Welsh originally and has now been issued in English. Food, recipes and ingredients are an integral part of the book and are a central part of the main,character, Peggy's life which is reflected in the recounts of the other characters. I was completely hooked by this book and captivated by Peggy and the other characters.

The book is set in a Welsh village. Many issues occur throughout the novel things such as - love, mental illness, poverty, friendship and family and although they are presented quite factually this does not impede the reader from feeling empathy towards the characters. Peggy has led a rich and fulfilling life yet she can not fathom the way in which some life events have affected her. I feel compelled to try some of the recipes within the book!

A great read.
Profile Image for Stephanie.
173 reviews1 follower
June 17, 2016
I can't tell you how delightful this novel is! I was enchanted from the first chapter. The story starts exactly as the preview describes, with Peggy's son Jonathan handing her a blank book and asks her to write her story. The next chapter starts with a recipe and is from a different person's point of view. Every subsequent chapter is the same, all different recipes (the food which somehow makes an appearance in the chapter) and all different people's points of view. The chapters work in chronological order and the readers get to know their leading lady, Peggy, from the perspectives of those her life has come in contact with. Great, thought out structure. Wonderfully imperfect characters. I loved it!
384 reviews7 followers
November 9, 2015
This is the story of Peggy from a small Welsh village, the product of a single mother who suffers from depression. Peggy is severely neglected by her mother but has the wherewithal to go to a neighbor and ask for help. This in turn leads to Peggy finally meeting her maternal grandparents for the first time and being raised by them while her mother is sent to an asylum. Each chapter of the book is told from the perspective of someone who has been impacted by Peggy's life and each chapter has a recipe attached to it that has something to do with each of these people.

I thought the author wrote with sensitivity and thoughtfulness and I enjoyed this novel very much.
Profile Image for LindyLouMac.
857 reviews61 followers
February 11, 2018
A local setting which made it of particular interest.

Originally published as 'Blasu' now translated from the Welsh language. This gentle but sad story located locally was of particular interest to me as it mentioned so many places I know. The protagonist is Peggy and her life story unfolds as different members of the village community that she grew up in, narrate a section of the novel. The contrast of sharing recipes along side the difficult subject of mental illness is a bold one but it works.

Profile Image for Helen.
1,279 reviews18 followers
February 15, 2013
Gwych. Wedi mwynhau'n fawr iawn!
Delightful. Beautifully written, nicely constructed. Tempted to try some of the recipes which are the hooks for parts of the story!
This is the story of one woman's life, remembered through the eyes mainly of others, with a significant recipe connected with each memory. It is set in a small rural community in Meirionnydd. In some ways it is quite a traditional novel, and the ghost of Caradog Prichard is not far away (the Denbigh Asylum seems to have cast a long shadow over Welsh literature). There's a twist at the end which I hadn't foreseen. Excellent!
Displaying 1 - 30 of 33 reviews

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