My book review of 'Hungry' by Grace Dent
I've followed the author for her Masterchef appearances on tv and have glanced at her restaurant reviews in the Guardian, but it was her honest and funny descriptions of experiencing lockdown in the past few months that drew me closest to Grace Dent, and made me a fan.
I was desperate to read this memoir, then, eager to find out more about the life which had been glimpsed in her pandemic newspaper columns. And I was anticipating a giggle.
I was surprised, then, that this didn't make me laugh - even though this was promised in cover quotes. It seemed to be quite a reflective and melancholy read to me.
Looking back at her childhood in Carlisle, much removed from the London high life she now enjoys, the author delights in her family members with their particular traits and foibles. She cherishes the memories of her father, in particular, recalling him with warmth and affection, but also possibly regret, having seen his decline in health through dementia.
The book is described as 'everyone’s story' and certainly for me it was very nostalgic as it related the foods I, too, grew up with - the Findus Crispy Pancakes, for example, and the chocolate crunch with pink custard for school dinners. And there's a powerful celebration of the versatility, resilience and quiet acceptance of mothers which we took for granted.
It's also a story of secrets, extended family and ambition. I enjoyed it greatly but I didn't feel the spirit and energy that I'd read in her lockdown articles. But perhaps that's just me. I'll certainly continue to follow and be intrigued by everything Grace Dent presents and writes.