What She Ate: Six Remarkable Women and the Food That Tells Their Stories

James Beard Journalism Award winner Laura Shapiro (Julia Child: A Life) invokes the adage "You are what you eat" to explore the lives of six famous women in What She Ate: Six Remarkable Women and the Food That Tells Their Stories.

Shapiro's subjects span the 18th century to the 21st, offering a fascinating range of personalities, tastes and circumstances. Shapiro first profiles writer Dorothy Wordsworth, who maintained a fervent devotion to her poet brother William, and who often recorded meals in her diary. Rosa Lewis was a salty British caterer whose kitchen prowess elevated her from scullery maid to a cook favored by royalty. Eleanor Roosevelt presided over a White House infamous for its inedible fare. The First Lady was known for her disinterest in food, but Shapiro sketches an image of a woman more interested in public welfare and economy than gourmet meals.

Eva Braun had an affinity for champagne and fantasy, though she disliked her lover Hitler's preference for rich dishes more than his politics. Shapiro also considers Barbara Pym, a novelist whose characters' attitudes about food belie stereotypes about British cuisine following World War II. Finally, Helen Gurley Brown, editor of Cosmopolitan, rounds out the sextet. Despite her feminist leanings, Brown's ideas of modern womanhood included self-deprivation and nightly servings of diet Jell-O.

With exhaustive research and lively writing, Shapiro serves up engaging and respectful portraits, tastefully blending quotes, anecdotes and commentary to construct an unforgettable feast of tales. --Katie Weed, freelance writer and reviewer

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