A disarmingly candid look at the highs, lows, and true grit of a culinary star.

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COOKING AS FAST AS I CAN

A CHEF'S STORY OF FAMILY, FOOD, AND FORGIVENESS

From the acclaimed first female Iron Chef, a heartfelt memoir of a loving family, a passion for food, and the challenges of career and personal life.

After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America, Cora blazed a trail for women in a field dominated by men, joining a cadre of celebrity chefs with cookbooks, TV shows, and food and cookware brands. The author describes an idyllic childhood in Jackson, Mississippi, building forts with her brothers in the “fairy-tale piney woods” behind their house. Cora, whose grandfather owned a restaurant, comes by her love of cooking naturally. From “Grandmom Alma,” who came to take care of the family while Cora’s mother was away getting her doctorate, Cora learned to make the creamiest of cheesecakes. Her parents had a passion for food and entertaining, serving such dishes as her father’s Greek kota kapama. This near-perfect childhood was marred when a son of family friends sexually abused her. The abuse stopped when her parents found out, but it was years before they acknowledged the deep trauma it caused, thinking she was young and would get over it. Instead, she was haunted by guilt and shame well into her adult life. Cora draws readers into her world with frank, conversational writing. What the prose lacks in style is overcome by the strength of her story. She recounts her family’s support but also their fears for her when she came out as a lesbian in the conservative South. Driven and ambitious, she went from culinary school to apprenticeships at Michelin-starred restaurants in France and from sous and executive chef positions in increasingly prestigious restaurants to a Food Network regular. Career demands took a toll on her personal life. Along with success came some heartache, until she found a balance with her spouse and their four sons, realizing at last that she didn’t have to be perfect.

A disarmingly candid look at the highs, lows, and true grit of a culinary star.

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4767-6614-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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