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Keeping the Feast: One Couple's Story of Love, Food, and Healing in Italy Hardcover – February 18, 2010

48 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Hardcover; First Edition edition (February 18, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594488975
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594488979
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,184,546 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Paula Butturini was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, grew up along Long Island Sound, got her B.A. from Wellesley College, and has spent most of her adult life in Europe, working and freelancing for numerous U.S. newspapers and the old United Press International in London, Madrid, Rome, Warsaw, and Paris. Her first book, "Keeping the Feast," was published by Riverhead/Penguin on Feb. 18, 2010.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By atmj TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 2, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The author chronicles her life shortly before and after she and her husband received brutal treatment when covering various European assignments. She was brutally beaten when caught in some protests and he was shot while traveling. His injuries required many surgeries and then while healing he fell into a horrible depression.

The book provides the author a chance to reflect on her and her husband's life and how it so tragically changed after these events. What is unique about this book, is that she has interwoven her relationship with food into their personal story.

Each of us has a relationship with food. It can be as simple as remembering favorites as children, family traditional meals, stories about meals or lore about certain foods that have been passed down. It also can be the rituals of preparing a special meal or even a daily one. Sometimes buying and preparing food where they lived in Italy was so interwoven into the community that it provided a haven for Paula when everything else seemed to be coming apart. . This reminded me a bit of Frances Mayes book; "Under the Tuscan Sun" where the author recounted stories of her life and home restoration along with stories of Italy and its wonderful food. However this book does not provide recipes, nor is as light-hearted. This is a story of survival and there food is integral.

As difficult as the subject matter is, this book reads easily and is very well-written, but it does not candy-coat, the long road of depression. What it does do, is show how the little things in life, the support of good friends, the importance of work and the community around the kitchen table can start to draw those separated from life by anxiety and depression back from the abyss.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Louie's Mom on January 9, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Choosing, cooking, eating, and savoring food is the constant in this memoir. Paula Butturini and her husband met while they were both reporters in Italy. The years they spent together there were golden - good food, good friends and interesting work that included travel in eastern Europe as the iron curtain crumbled. Butturini writes: "I loved John because, like me, he liked to cook as much as he liked to eat, because both of us grew up in homes where honest food was the central magnet that brought us all to the same table two or three times a day."

Their lives took a sudden and traumatic turn after Paula was beaten by Czechoslovakian riot police in Prague in 1989 just weeks before their wedding. Weeks after the wedding, her husband John was shot in Romania and nearly died. Butturini writes very openly about the depression that threatened to destroy her husband as he recovered. Though it is painful to read of John's depression, and of Butturini's mother's depression, the support that the couple's family and friends provided to them is heartening.

Butturini made a decision to do whatever it took to help her husband recover, and after moving them back to Italy fed both his body and his heart with the simple but fresh foods that had been the backdrop of their first years together. She is open in this memoir about her own struggles, including her anger, as the months went by, sometimes with little or no improvement in her husband's depression.

Butturini was told, and came to understand, that trauma changes life irrevocably, and healing involves accepting this painful truth. Though it is a bit of a cliche, this is a heartwarming story of building a new life after trauma and relying on the love of friends and family.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Alayne VINE VOICE on February 18, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Paula Butturini's memoir Keeping the Feast is more than a true story about a couple's enduring love set among a delicious Italian background full of food and flavor; it's a story of hope, and the bond of family, and the anguish of a person helplessly afflicted with depression.

Paula met her second husband John in Italy. They married when she was in her late thirties. Both news correspondents, both with strong Italian-family backgrounds, Paula and John were meant for each other, and their love endured trials many of us cannot fathom. In 1989 Paula was beaten senseless by riot police in Czechoslovakia, just weeks before her and John are to be married. Barely surviving her own trauma, it is only a handful of weeks later when John is shot by a sniper in Romania. Undergoing several surgeries, John barely survives. The couple land back in Italy to recoup, only John suffers a devastating depression that threatens to tear their marriage apart. Paula takes refuge in her Italian markets, diving into her family recipes, the ingredients which held her together as a child as she hopes they can hold her family together now.

Keeping the Feast is marketed as a memoir about the tribulations a couple goes through, and how food kept them together. But I can't help but look beyond the ingrediants, the never-ending succulent lists of Italian market-wares and herbs. Paula's own mother suffered from depression, it was something Paula herself feared her whole life. To have her husband, the love of her life, afflicted by the same disease, was terrifying and my heart goes out to her. Not everyone understands the crippling devastation that is depression, the way it can leach into your life, but Paula did, she saw it first hand and she vowed to never let it bury her.
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