Reviewed by Carly M.

Like many books set in Italy, Keeping the Feast is a book that revolves around food. Buying food, preparing food, enjoying food…these tasks are the constant background noise to a story that is, in many ways, the exact antithesis of culinary pleasures. Where the food comforts, the story agitates. Where the food tantalizes, the story repels. Where the food strengthens, the story despairs. Such is the back and forth in this memoir about the lives of two journalists whose lives took a sudden and tragic turn.

Paula Butturini and John Tagliabue met in Italy while working as foreign correspondents. Marginally successful in their careers and satisfied with their lives abroad, the pair decided to marry and make a life for themselves. However, within a month of their marriage, John was shot while on the job. This book tells the story of the strain that his injuries, many surgeries, and resulting depression took on their young marriage as they tried to rebuild their life in Rome.

I was initially excited to read this memoir, after hearing some good reviews. I was disappointed, however, to find that Keeping the Feast did not live up to my expectations. Although Butturini’s story is complex and intriguing, I found the constant discussion of food and the continually leaping back and forth in time to be very distracting. I feel like this book would have worked better if it had been separated into two projects: the flowery celebration of food in Rome and the detailed, gritty story of the events that made up the first few years of their marriage. The combination of the two just didn’t work for me.

Carly lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, with her husband and their two cats. Her favorite thing to do is to curl up by a window with a library book.

This book was provided free of any obligation by Riverhead Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.