A canny life story from a determined woman with the gift of vision and the wherewithal to implement it.



An acclaimed chef and restaurateur offers engaging stories from the kitchen and beyond.

In this immersive memoir, French delves into her life so far, covering the twists, turns, successes, and failures that led to her successful career as the owner and head chef of the much-lauded Lost Kitchen in the tiny town of Freedom, Maine. Though this is her first book of narrative nonfiction (following her 2017 cookbook), French demonstrates her talents as a storyteller, whether she’s discussing her early cooking career, which she spent managing the fryolator, serving clam baskets, and producing perfect soft-serve ice cream cones at her father’s diner; recounting a childhood replete with bucolic wonder (“I spent countless summer days from breakfast until dinner running wild through the seemingly endless pastures and wilderness”); or delineating her struggles as an adult. The harrowing details of her first marriage—her alcoholic husband eventually became abusive, and she lost herself in pill addiction—add palpable tension to her story, as do the scenes set in an “all-female rehab facility.” Despite these hardships, French refreshingly avoids unnecessary self-pity or sentimentality, and the life-affirming details are just as strong: The author notes her love of Billie Holiday, Miles Davis, Stevie Nicks, and the “Cape Verdean jazz” of Cesária Évora, and she shares an amusing tale about baking pot brownies and getting “high for the first time of my life” at age 33. Also relatable are her accounts of tussles and reconciliations with her sister. From a secret, at-home supper club and an early iteration of the Lost Kitchen, the author stays on point in her evocative portrayal of the importance of food in her life. “As a girl,” she writes, “I had learned from my father that good food could be a vessel, a way to show love, even when you might not have the words to say so.”

A canny life story from a determined woman with the gift of vision and the wherewithal to implement it.

Pub Date: April 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-31234-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 22, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

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All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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