Top critical review
93 people found this helpful
on April 24, 2009
Having loved Reichl's three other books and having loved the bits of her mother throughout them, I was really looking forward to this book. Right out of the box, it makes a bad first impression - it's small (really small) with large type and large margins. She starts off by recounting how stories involving her mother in her previous books were embarrassing, and consequently approaches this one cautiously. Maybe too cautiously? I liked the concept of Reichl using her mother's old letters as a framework on which to build the story, but nothing ever really happened with it. Worse than not having a solid story, this book lacks feeling, something you'd expect, and hope, to find so prevalent in a daughter's retelling of her mother's life. What you get here is a plain vanilla version of the story of an intersting, colorful woman that reads more like a Wikipedia biography than anything else.
The woman in Reichl's other books was so real, so believable, so much like other women I've known from that generation all stitched together. That woman is barely recognizable here. We learn a bit about why she became the woman she did, but nothing about that woman. Reichl's mother seems more real through a quick memory in any of her previous books than she does in all 128 pages here.
Like another reviewer, it seemed obvious to me that this was published only to satisfy a contract. Otherwise, why would it have made it to the shelf? Of all the quips about her mother that Reichl has put into print, this is the most embarrassing. Save your money and wait to find this one in the bargain bin.