Shapiro melds the art of literature with the craft of cuisine, pairing inventive menus with passages from treasured fiction. Barbara Pym, Charles Dickens, Colette, Doris Lessing, and Thomas Hardy--these and countless other writers knew just how effective it could be to interject descriptions of food or meals partaken in order to move a story along or depict stirring emotional quandaries. "Starved Love," "Penitential Meals," and "Eating the Social Index" are a few of the categories Shapiro assembles, designating various perspectives found in classic novels spanning Anna Karenina to Marjorie Morningstar. The recipes are straightforward, easy to follow, and perhaps most intriguing for their literary connotations. Alice Joyce
is a literary equivalent of a tasting menu: an elaborately staged succession of signature dishes served in tantalizing bites so as not to exhaust the palate. Here, the master chefs are 20 or so of the world's greatest writers. Novelist Shapiro has culled choice morsels from their work . . . This is a book that leaves us with an appetite for novels we want to read and reread--and for meals we want to cook. A Feast of Words
is haute cuisine for the body and the spirit. --Francine Prose, People
If you're reading this, odds are you agree with Anna Shapiro that books are the staff of life. "A Feast of Words" is not an ordinary cookbook, or even primarily a cookbook. It is a banquet for the soul, cooked with imagination and served with style by a writer who knows that fiction, like food, is not merely necessary to life, but the essence of life. --Ellen Feldman, Newsday
The passages [of literature] are, for the most part, delightful, whether the pieces were old familiar parts of long-loved stories or little appetizers of works one hasn't met before.
And while I'll never attempt to make persimmon pudding or parsnips with pomegranate seeds . . . how does honey and orange bread sound to you? --Catherine Foster, American Reporter
Anna Shapiro loves food and knows literature, and in this charming volume . . . she is a fine critic and an especially fine summarizer and condenser of character and plot. She has lovingly chosen and carefully provided readers with great chunks of the actual text, in several instances complete scenes and stories. --The Boston Globe