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The Woman Who Never Cooked (First Series: Short Fiction) Paperback – April, 2006

4.9 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

The American adult woman is featured in this debut collection of stories about love, adultery, marriage, passion, death, and family. There is a subtle humor here, and an innate wisdom about everyday life as women find solace in cooking, work, and chores. Tabor reveals the thoughts of her working professional women who stream into Washington, D.C., from the outer suburbs, the men they date or marry, and the attractive if harried commuters they meet. One woman fantasizes about the burglar who escaped with her deceased mother's jewelry. In another story, the protagonist uncovers her husband's secret: his pocket mirror and concealer do not belong, as she had feared, to a mistress but rather are items he uses to hide his growing bald spot. Revealed here are the hidden layers of lives that seem predictable but never are. Reading Tabor's wry tales, one has the sense of entering the private lives of the women you see everyday on your way to work. Emily Cook
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Series: First Series: Short Fiction
  • Paperback: 175 pages
  • Publisher: Mid-List Press (April 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0922811687
  • ISBN-13: 978-0922811687
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,783,417 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Mary Tabor's exuberant collection is a glorious celebration of life in the midst of suffering, a feast of love and a dance of delight, an absolute immersion in sensory pleasures. This is the work of a mature artist, a woman intimately familiar with personal loss who is capable of plunging to the heart of pain, and equally capable of transcending the most devastating circumstances. These stunning stories are intricate and subtle, restrained on the surface and explosive at the center. Mary Tabor is a poet whose exquisite attention to unexpected detail will open you wide with joy and wonder.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am going to quote the last three lines of the last short story in this strange and beautiful book.

"She did not know what she deserved or what was just. She knew only that she would make the pie, that it would be hard to make and that it would be her favorite."

As well as being as good a metaphor as you could get of keeping going and keeping hoping, these words just about sum up the sum of the ingredients that make The Woman Who Never Cooked a unique and ultimately heart-lifting collection.

These are interlocking stories about family and love that go to the heart of life and living. Interlocking because characters in one story suddenly appear in another. Trouble with Kitchens, for example, had me scurrying back to Proof, the first and in many ways the most disturbing of the whole collection. And the cinematic qualities in these and the rest of the stories reflect Tabor’s familiarity with and expertise in the study of what is best in “the flicks”.

These eleven short stories managed to play havoc with my carefully acquired cynicism and made me see some of my friends in a different way, gave me more understanding, tolerance, even insight.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If you want to read a book full of humor as well as one that contains characters that come to life before your very eyes read Mary L Tabor's The Woman Who Never Cooked. Mary has a unique talent for character development and "no holds barred" story telling.
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Format: Paperback
I immensely enjoyed "The Woman Who Never Cooked," a superb collection of fascinating, nuanced, and intriguing stories, several of which I'd read when they were originally published elsewhere. I think repeated readings enhance your appreciation of their texture and depth. You notice new things each time (like in a song by Bob Dylan or Leonard Cohen).

This time I've been struck by how cinematic some of the stories are, with characters appearing in color or black and white. The story "the Burglar" called to mind Hitchcock's MARNIE in which Sean Connery is sexually attracted to Tippi Hedren, partly because she is a habitual thief. Overtones of TO CATCH A THIEF too. In "Trouble with Kitchens," a character named Eliot from an earlier story reappears and provides a new perspective on the same events previously seen through the eyes of another character. Pure Tarantino!

These stories could make for a fascinating film. Woody Allen, Barry Levinson, Jim Jarmusche: read this book!

Raymond K. Connolly, Washington, D.C. USA
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Format: Paperback
This book is a gift to those who read it. In a collection of linked short stories Mary Tabor has braided a beautiful pigtale. Strands of love and loss are expertly linked; the author slips from one to the other and you will be hard pressed to find the seams. It reads like a memoir, but who knows what is fact, what is fantasy. My only problem with the book is its title "The Woman who Never Cooked", for the author has cooked up a rare concoction. It not only made me hungry in the corporal sense, but made me ravenous for more stories by this accomplished writer. Some of the stories, at the end, pack an unexpected emotional punch that took my breath away. I will not tell you which ones, you will soon find out if you read these sensitive vignettes as you must. Nowhere have I read words that evoke such anguish for the loss of a mother. These stories about family and love go to the heart of life, and touched my heart deeply.
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Format: Paperback
I've been in love with Mary Tabor's work since I read her first published story. How thankful I am now for this collection.These eleven stories feature characters,driven by hunger, who are unable to resist the mysteries of their lives, the dark worlds they find themselves moving through, and the sensual pleasures that give them relief. Mary Tabor's characters face the hardships of their lives with wit and charm in these richly textured stories about the way we live and love, and the accomodations we make for the sake of our longing. Consider the tremendously tantalizing opening line of the title story: "There once was a woman with three hundred and twenty-seven cookbooks who never cooked." At the end of the story, this once accomplished cook, after recalling the loss of her mother and sister, and her father's impending death from Parkinson's disease, decides to make her father's favorite dessert, a lemon meringue pie. The story ends with the cook and the author refusing to pass moral judgment on the world's poor treatment: "She did not know what she deserved or what was just. She knew only that she would make the pie, that it would be hard to make and that it would be her favorite." So it is with all the stories in this collection--well crafted and made from all life's ingredients, the bitter and the sweet.
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