Tender at the Bone is the story of a life determined, enhanced, and defined in equal measure by unforgettable people, the love of tales well-told, and a passion for food. In other words, the stuff of the best literature. The journey begins with Reichl's mother, the notorious food-poisoner known forevermore as the Queen of Mold, and moves on to the fabled Mrs. Peavey, one-time Baltimore socialite millionairess, and, for a brief but poignant moment, retained as Reichl's maid. Then we are introduced to Monsieur du Croix, the gourmand, who so understood and stood somewhat in awe of this prodigious child at his dinner table that when he introduced Ruth to the soufflé, he could only exclaim, "What a pleasure to watch a child eat her first soufflé!" Then, fast forward to the politically correct table set in Berkeley in the 1970s, and the food revolution that Ruth watched and participated in as organic became the norm. But this sampling doesn't do this character-rich work justice. And, after all, this is just a taste.More
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This is Why Authors Shouldn't Read Their Own Books
I really like Ruth Reichl's books. I've read this one before, as well as Comfort Me With Apples and Diamonds and Sapphires. However, I do not recommend this recording. Reichl reads her own work and her tone is dull, even though the material isn't. So, you end up thinking that this is a boring book, when quite the opposite is true.
Additionally, it's abridged, so there are characters who seemingly pop up out of nowhere and others who disappear. One can only assume that they leave or arrive in the expurgated sections.
There are great scenes here-- some involving her mother, who suffers from bipolar disorder, others overseas in France and Italy, and still others in the hippy age at Berkeley. All are funny and touching, while satisfying the needs of bibliophilic foodies.
Anyone! The sound recording itself is bad, which could be part of the problem. This sounds like it was taken from a tape in the 1980s. Bernadette Dunn does a terrific job on the UNabridged version of Garlic and Sapphires (Reichl, unfortunately reads the abridged-- check both samples and see which you like better, though Reichl is more animated there than she is here). This book needed a professional actress to carry the story along.
I could see it being made into a movie, but they would need to include Comfort Me With Apples for a more clear picture of the scope of this woman's very interesting life.