Sunday, February 23, 2014

Anne Else: The Colour of Food

I've long been a fan of Anne Else's writing.  Her books on womens history and particularly on the history of adoption in New Zealand, were really important to me as a postgraduate history student in the 1990s.  Last year I read Else's PhD online and for the last several years I've been reading her blogs http://elsewoman.blogspot.co.nz/ and http://somethingelsetoeat.blogspot.co.nz/ .  When her food memoir came out only as an e-book, I was disappointed, but ethically opposed to getting a kindle or other device as it reduced the pool of books to be sold second hand thus available to people who could not afford new books.  But all those concerns fell away last week when my lovely husband surprised me with a kindle for my birthday.  There is no going back!  The books are so cheap and to be able to choose exactly what I want to read at 11pm or 3am or Sunday morning or whenever feels really close to magic.  The very first book I downloaded was Anne Else's The Colour of Food: a memoir of life, love and dinner...

Anne writes beautifully, and I think her tying in of food, love and history is very successful in this memoir.  In her Elsewoman blog she has detailed the challenges of eating alone and adjusting to living alone in poignant detail, and now I get to learn of the rich experiences before her loss.  I enjoyed the section on Albany particularly, as I'd not known anything of this experience beforehand.  Anne writes of Elizabeth David and afterwards I was looking for Lisa Chaney's biography of David.  The Colour of Food reminded me of the pleasure of reading the lives of foodies, without having to get out of bed and actually cook.  Anne's writing oeuvre has been an important contribution to writing the lives of New Zealanders and in particular to stamping out the reality that domestic work is significant and worthy of its own story. After reading The Colour of Food, I felt prompted to make more effort to get back writing and recording my own life.  Anne reminds those of us who teeter round the writing fringes as we live our lives that everyone's story is significant, and in turn gently suggests that we all owe it to ourselves to think and act carefully and share those acts for posterity.  A national taonga.

Since then (mere days ago), I've had the even more divine pleasure of reading Tim Winton's Eyrie.  At $48 in the shops, I had no idea when I would get my hands on this treasure, but with my magic kindle, I had it downloaded for about $8 (NZ).  Tim Winton writes like an angel.  I practically swooned at times.  I'm still thinking about Winton's anti-heroes but I can't say too much for fear of ruining the end for those who have yet to read Eyrie.

I've been looking for Deborah Challinor's next book after Behind the Sun, called Girl of Shadows, for a few months now.  I was supposed to be released in November 2013 in New Zealand, and I've yet to see it in a bookshop.  But never fear, I downloaded it today for only NZ$6!  Best I go and do the dishes and other jobs now so I can go to bed with my kindle as soon as possible.  It's like my childhood when the local library always had something to love.

2 comments:

Christopher said...

E-books are great as you've discovered. I've been reading them, but I made a promise to myself that I would go in once a quarter to Unity Books and buy a book. That way I guarantee that Unity will still be around despite getting e-books, and I get the best of both worlds!

RuthG said...

I bought a tablet primarily so I could read Anne Else's E-book. She must have done wonders for E-reader sales.