The Bottom Line
This tasty concoction from Suzanne Beecher serves up equal parts of humor, drama and inspiration. Beecher's sparkling prose style serves her well as she traces her journey from pregnant teenager to restaurant owner to magazine publisher to Internet entrepreneur, with many detours and digressions along the way.
The narrative is larded with Suzanne's own recipes for down-to-earth dishes like flank steak and pumpkin bread, along with intriguingly-named specialties like Funeral Cake and Skunk Beans. If you haven't experienced the double pleasure of a book with recipes, Beecher's book is the right place to start.
- Engaging story
- Lively writing style
- Humorous anecdotes
- Simple, practical recipes
- Chronology sometimes confusing
- Published by Touchstone, a division of Simon and Schuster
- 233 pages
- List price $24.99
- Includes 38 recipes
The fiction or nonfiction book with recipes is a relatively new phenomenon in the world of publishing. Readers can experience a good read and a good feed almost simultaneously, if they can put the book down long enough to cook. That will certainly be the problem that many readers experience with Muffins and Mayhem: Beecher tells such a compelling story, and tells it at such a lively pace, that the consumption of food may take a back seat to the consumption of the next chapter.
Beecher's book features the victory-over-obstacles theme of many biographies and autobiographies, but without the cloying overtones. Her subtitle says it all: "Recipes for a Happy (if Disorderly) Life." She has faced numerous challenges, including distant relationships with her parents, two early failed marriages, substance abuse problems, unsuccessful business ventures and a bizarre eye ailment (benign essential blepharospasm). It would have been easy for Beecher to slip into bathos or blame, but she doesn't. Instead she seems to move from one crisis right into another adventure, one that might or might not come out right. She demonstrates the power of courage, a positive attitude and perseverance, because ultimately Beecher's book has a happy ending. Happily married to her third husband for 27 years, she operates online book clubs at DearReader.com. The story of how she came up with the idea for her website and how she made it a reality is one of the most fascinating bits in the book.
Beecher is a parent to four and a grandparent to two, but this book isn't really about parenting or grandparenting, although her beloved Grandma and Grandpa Hale are mentioned often. Still, it would make a nifty gift for grandparents. And the lack of parenting/grandparenting stories in this one means that a sequel is possible. Like her legions of readers, I'm hoping that it becomes a reality.
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.