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All Gone: A Memoir of My Mother's Dementia. With Refreshments Hardcover – September 27, 2012
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"In this warm memoir, Witchel recounts her mother’s mental decline and the solace she derived from preparing family recipes. I related to the author’s desire to hold fast to her mother. My mom embodies so much: family, traditions, home. I worry about how I’ll cope when she passes away someday. This book was a comfort, reminding me that nothing can ever rob me of her love." –Real Simple
"[Witchel's] recipes are simple family classics. With their invocations of old-time staples like Del Monte tomato sauce and Lawry’s seasoned salt, they’re humble reminders of the many small acts of care that hold a family together. On the page, they stand as incantations." –The Daily Beast
“Witchel writes beautifully from the heart, but with a journalist's clarity… [She] reminds readers that family relationships are precious and time is fleeting.” –San Francisco Chronicle
“As Ms. Witchel wisecracks, ‘In our house, it was always the old days.’ All Gone… pay[s] homage to those days. As do the clever comebacks Ms. Witchel scatters throughout… Still, she gives the best lines to her mother, [who,] even as she free falls… delivers good dialogue.” –Rachel Shteir, The New York Times
“Bittersweet, with levity.” –Good Housekeeping
"A short, lovely memoir, moving in its description of grief and loss, the painfully slow loss, of a beloved parent, never self-indulgent and with enough bright spots to balance the blackness… And there is a moment at the end… that brought me to a full-on weep." –Michael Ruhlman
“Food… comes from a different quadrant of [Witchel’s] universe, a space where she can hold a sort of mental conversation with a beloved parent no longer able to converse. And what a parent! …My mother, like Alex’s, cooked the day’s meals not for pleasure or adventure but as an unromantic responsibility that maintained stable, loving order in our small bit of the cosmos. I read “All Gone” marveling that I could ever have looked down on, rather than up to, such an achievement. It’s an honor to meet Barbara Witchel as she was before her mind was ravaged, and celebrate the kind of cooking she stands for.” –Anne Mendelson, ZesterDaily.com
“A moving tribute… that reminds those whose child–parent relationship has flipped that they are not alone.” –SheKnows.com
“Funny and poignant… a complex mother-daughter love story.” –Maclean’s
“A testament to love, tenacity and the power of home cooking” –MORE Magazine
"In this recipie-dotted memoir, Alex Witchel finds solace among the saucepans as her beloved mother slips away... [Includes] witty culinary asides and nuggets of maternal wisdom." –Whole Living
"Warm and always humane, Witchel's narrative is a poignant, candid reminder of the new normal that now defines so many adult child-aging parent relationships." –Kirkus
“I cannot get over how good Alex Witchel’s writing is. I wish I could park my desk next to hers and learn how to write sentences even half as efficient and muscular and poignant. No one is smarter, funnier, or more graceful. And there’s no one whose kitchen I’d rather be invited into.” –Gabrielle Hamilton, author of Blood, Bones and Butter
“Alex Witchel takes us on an extraordinary journey of the mind and heart as a vibrant parent fades into dementia. She shows us that despite profound loss, we can nourish ourselves with memories that sustain love and give comfort. This book of sharp honesty and deep insight illuminates a time in life when so many of us seek understanding.” –Jerome Groopman, author of How Doctors Think and The Anatomy of Hope
"Alex Witchel is a heroic and funny war correspondent who explains, once and for all, why it's called the nuclear family." –Fran Lebowitz
“This is a story of love and loss told as only Alex Witchel can tell it—with the extraordinary warmth and humor she brings to all of her work. I loved reading it!” –Ina Garten
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
This is the story of a daughter who watched helplessly as her sharp-minded professor-mother lost her edge and began "disappearing in plain sight" at the hands of dementia. After a prescription for Xanax is abandoned, former a New York Time's food columnist, turns to the kitchen instead to cope with her grief. Since the author had the foresight to gather a folder of her mother's favorite recipes, she set to work recreating these favorites as means of bringing her mother back with all the aromas, sights, and sounds of her kitchen.
The author's mother, Barbra Witchel, a working mother of four, had a cooking style the author describes as modern-convenient. She wasn't afraid to use a can of tomato soup or a handful of corn flakes in her meatloaf. Who has the time to make tomato soup anyways? For modern readers who find the cooking matriarch Julia Childs' recipes a little out of reach, these recipes (especially the meatloaf) will be a welcome addition to the 21st century kitchens of busy mothers.
Witchel's experience will likely resonate with many adults who have watched in dismay as a the mind of a beloved parent or grandparent has disappeared before our eyes, leaving us to care for the body of an old friend but the mind of a new one. Taking over her mother's care taking responsibilities was so consuming that the author once claimed her mother's 1931 birthdate as her own out of habit.
"All Gone," is not mostly a sad book, though it may make you cry.Read more ›
In All Gone, author Alex Witchel recounts her mother's battle with dementia. With refreshments, of course. The book begins with how Ms. Witchel copes by cooking her mother's recipes, using food as a way to bridge the gap between who her mother was and is becoming. Each chapter ends with a difference recipe from Alex's collection, recipes formed not only in food but memories. All Gone is packed with sentiment. She portrayers her dilemma with heartbreaking truthfulness. As a reader, I felt her grief, her sadness at losing her mother although she is presently here in body. As Alex says, gone but not gone.
This memoir touched me deeply especially since my parents are getting older. I read this partially in fear of what I might have to go through. I hope that if I was ever in the same situation, I would survive with as much poise and grace as Ms. Witchel has. The beauty in this memoir not in the coping though. It is in how Ms. Witchel finds her way back to herself.
I believe foodies and non-foodies alike will enjoy this short memoir. It also inspired by to search out my own family recipes, to learn how to make them with as much love as my parents cook and to make my own food memories.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.5 stars. The pain a family member goes through when a loved one goes through dementia is indescribable. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Elizabeth Tai
This book was disappointing. It is more about the author than her mother's dementia. The recipes did not belong in the book.Published 9 months ago by Sondra R.
This was a big disappointment -- it is not really about her "mother's dementia" at all. It is all about her career in New York and how her mother's situation affected her... Read morePublished 14 months ago by M. Cott
As a health care worker, this book is a must read for any one dealing with elderly people. I enjoyed it more than any book I have read lately.Published 19 months ago by Sherry Meyers
It is a very informative book, and made me familiar with the problems that follow ahead.Published on July 23, 2014 by Charles K. Gorga
I’m not much of a writer. Thankfully, Alex Witchel sure is. Here is a story at once personal and resonant to any family, any caregiver, anyone trying to hold on and move forward. Read morePublished on July 9, 2014 by true blue
There was much to appreciate and applaud in Alex Witchel's memoir but the poignancy and authenticity of her beautifully rendered accounts of exchanges with her mother, her husband,... Read morePublished on June 4, 2014 by Tessa
A sad story that I can relate to, at least somewhat, as my father has Alzheimer's. It highlighted the huge differences that can be found in one case of dementia to another, and... Read morePublished on April 12, 2014 by melissa
I just had to say thank you so much or sending my book in the mail it was in great shape and am going to get started reading it in the mountain of books i gotten in the past thank... Read morePublished on April 2, 2014 by Denise L. Scott