The Kitchen Congregation: A Daughter's Story of Wives and Women Friends

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9780312242107: The Kitchen Congregation: A Daughter's Story of Wives and Women Friends

A beautifully rendered reflection on life lessons learned by the author in her mother's kitchen--about loss and renewal, and how women navigate their lives.

In dazzling prose, Nora Seton passes on the rich dialogues between women in her life, the shared comfort and pain of motherhood, the bewilderments of men, and favorite recipes--coded love handed down through generations in the kitchen, the heart of the home. Sparked by the burgeoning consciousness of young motherhood, Nora Seton illuminates the lives of five women, giving language to their ambition, resignation, self-preservation, and loss. She reaches back through the years to recapture the memory of her brilliant mother, the novelist Cynthia Seton, whose death from cancer inspires her search to articulate the magic of motherhood.

Written in a style that echoes the fluid way our thoughts spill out amidst the intrusions of children, the soft, ever-reflecting tone of our internal conversations, THE KITCHEN CONGREGATION is told in tales from the kitchen--the place where after years of broken traditions and new opportunities, mothers still relate to their children, women reflect among friends, and the family is nourished.

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Review:

At the risk of sounding sexist, it's impossible to imagine a man writing this book. Nora Seton's warm, savory memoir is unmistakably female in its blend of forthright physical details, painstaking analysis of intricate personal relations, and intellectual musings. In this, the author mirrors her beloved mother, novelist Cynthia Propper Seton: "The human spirit required complications, she said, places to go and not go, ascent and descent, stone walls and smooth paths to organize itself. She explained all this while peeling carrots." Writing with downright elegance that always delivers the unexpected phrase or insight, Seton explores the kitchen's meaning for women as the center of the home--the place where friends gather to drink coffee and share secrets, where children stand on overturned salad bowls to reach knives, where the evening news is absorbed while drinking wine and chopping onions. Seton's memories of her mother's slow death from cancer and the stillbirth of her own first child are poignant but never depressing because she conveys such a palpable sense of life as a process, of experiences that may wound or rejoice but always enrich the soul. --Wendy Smith

About the Author:

Nora Seton resides in Darien, CT, with her husband and two children.

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Seton, Nora
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