Married just a few months, Butturini endures the horror of her foreign-correspondent husband’s shooting while he covered the collapse of Romania’s Communist regime. Although he survives infection and numerous surgeries, the trauma opens the door to deep depression. This mental unwinding particularly terrifies Butturini, whose own mother suffered from postpartum depression and eventually committed suicide. The two retreat to their beloved Italy, where a daily regimen of good food and caring friends sustain them both. Thanks to competent medical attention and constant love, he gradually recovers, but rejoicing over the birth of their own daughter abruptly ends with the onset of another downward spiral. Butturini seeks comfort, if not answers, in family history and finds grace to sustain her. This is an unsentimental first-person account of living with severe depression, and Butturini finds real ground for hope despite the disease’s intractability and its potential for genuine tragedy. --Mark Knoblauch
"When we find ourselves coping with pain, the kitchen can become our therapist, food our source of comfort. The joy of cooking was certainly the salve that soothed the emotional wounds that the journalist Paula Butturini endured. . . . [A] blunt and brave memoir."
-The New York Times Book Review
"In this moving account . . . Butturini describes how she turned to the familiar comforts of preparing meals to maintain control as her husband spiraled into darkness. . . . Feast is a reminder that food sustains not only bodies but souls as well."
-People (three and a half stars)
"Her account of Tagliabue's shooting and near-death brings tears to the eyes."
-San Francisco Chronicle
"It is a celebration of the human spirit, persevering in the face of overwhelming obstacles, and a paean to the restorative ability of food to bring comfort and peace to our souls as well as our bodies."
"Bringing out the sights, scents, and tastes of Italy, she delicately and expertly simmers together memories of violence, pain, and depression with stories of hope and love. . . . Butturini's writing about Italy, food, family, and friends will appeal to readers of travel memoirs; her treatment of injury and illness will provide inspiration to those who seek healing; and her straightforward accounts of the turmoil during the fall of the Soviet bloc will interest those who enjoy history and politics. Highly recommended."
"If food is love and love heals, does that mean that food heals? Paula Butturini proves the equation in gorgeous yet unadorned prose. I will never, ever forget this book."
-Patricia Volk, author of Stuffed and To My Dearest Friends
"Written with grace and courage, Paula Butturini's Keeping the Feast is about the endurance of love in the face of overwhelming odds--depression, tragedy, loss. But it is also about the comfort to be found in the dailiness of life, when every humble act becomes an act of faith; when the preparation and sharing of three good meals a day, however simple, is both a reminder and a celebration--an insistence on celebration--of what life offers. Keeping the Feast is a triumph of will and spirit. It made me hungry for everything."
-Abigail Thomas, author of A Three Dog Life
"Keeping the Feast is a remarkable story, gorgeously told. We reflect, relish, grieve, and heal our way with Paula Butturini, who is wise about so many things-family and place; depression, religion, and love; the disastrous long-term fallout of a single bullet fired at a loved one; and the immediate restorative pleasures of a single Italian meal. This book evokes life at its most serious and dire, and at its most mysterious and delectable. Read it, and be deepened and refreshed."
-Krista Tippett, host of the public radio program Speaking of Faith