Monday, 15 February 2010

Family Life by Elisabeth Luard - Birth, Death and the Whole Damn Thing....

I'm continuing the theme of favourite food writers and this lady would be high on my list of favourites....In fact she is the author of probably my favourite book, ever....'Family Life', the story of her life travelling and living in France and Andalusia with her (often absent) husband and four children Caspar, Francesca, Poppy & Honey. This was written and published before the 'travel writing with recipes' genre really took off and was probably one of the first of its kind. Libby Purves wrote for The Times:
"Robust, wise, light but never flippant...unspeakably moving. You leave it with a strengthened sense of what families are: hostages to fortune, doorways to the worst grief and yet a rough, undesigned shelter from it. Few writers have so well described the solid nourishment of family life. She deserves a medal."

It was the Guild of Food Writers' Book of the Year in 1996.....

Her latest autobiographical offering 'My Life as A Wife - Love, Liquor and what to do about the Other Women' documents her marriage to the charismatic, charming Nicholas Luard who, when she first met him, was the proprietor of Private Eye. Unfortunately for Elisabeth, he was also a philanderer and eventually, an alcoholic.

Her autobiographical accounts amount to just a small part of her work - she writes regularly for several magazines including Waitrose Food Illustrated, and her food writing includes 'Classic French', 'Classic Spanish', the acclaimed 'European Peasant Cookery', 'Saffron and Sunshine' and 'Sacred Food'. She writes with wisdom, honesty, individuality and spirit, the theme of the family table pivotal in every publication. At the end of one of her introductions she admits to having discovered no panacea for the troubles which afflict humanity, unless it is that a meal shared round the kitchen table serves both as a celebration of the good times and a comfort in times of trouble. She quotes the words of a 'wise old clergyman' of her acquaintance "Take a short view of life. Look no further than dinner or tea." I would love to see 'Family Life' included in the Bounty Bag handed out in hospital to all new mothers! Compulsive (& compulsory) reading......s


  1. Oh, a fabulous book Susie.
    I haven't read her latest one but will seek it out. XXXX

  2. Susie,
    This is great, I have never heard of this book and it is going right onto my list. I am still getting familiar with whose who around here and some of the names are starting to sound familiar. I love all these recommendations! Thanks for your comments on my post. Crazy might be the answer to one of your questions! I am still on my boot craze, have you heard of Le Chameau boots? Decisions, decisions....of course, I have not even looked at the price! I am sure the decision will be made for me right then and there when I do!
    Have a good night!!
    Jeanne :)

  3. Susie, I'm so excited by this post. Elizabeth Luard sounds just fascinating. Her books are going straight on to my reading list. For some reason or another, I'm finding it increasingly difficult to read novels and enjoy them. I find myself being overly critical and frustrated with them, even from some of my favourite authors.

    Autobiographical accounts seem to hold much more interest for me at this time in my life. Why is that, I wonder? Let me know if you're reading any great novels...I need to find my reading mojo again!

    Hope you're having a wonderful week and that the weather is starting to thaw out for you. Give your Aga a kiss from me. Meredy xo.

    p.s. I would say, however, no matter what stage of life I'm in, I will always love "The Terrible Underpants" by Kaz Cooke. Cracks me up every time. I say to the kids "Please can we read it again? Please???"

  4. Jackie - have you read the sequel to Family Life - 'Still Life' - it's another memoir but without the children!
    Jeanne - It's well worth a spot on the shelf! Have left you a msg on your boots post!
    Meredy - What is that all about? I did a post about this very thing quite early on....fiction just doesn't hold my attention so although I would love to recommend a great novel, I haven't read any in a while! You may have lost your reading mojo but obviously not your sense of fun - I can just imagine your children saying 'No, that's enough now, it's bedtime'!! Aga post coming soon!