Title: The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted
Author: Elizabeth Berg
270 pages; Softcover $15.00 US/$17.00 CAN
Publisher: Ballantine Books 2011
Reviewed by, Bess R. Emanuel, July, 2011 The review---
As a rule, Good Cooking receives cookbooks and food-related material for its review section, so when Elizabeth Bergs The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted arrived, It'sounded like it would fit right in. But this short story collection is much more: although food does play a role throughout, these stories range from humorous memoirs to sad cautionary tales.
Berg is an award-winning novelist, with Coming Home having been a selection of Oprahs Book Club. This is her second short story collection. Her devoted followers will not be disappointed here; the tales are told with wit, nostalgia and compassion. Themes of aging, love and the struggle to feel good about oneself make all of the stories accessible and memorable.
Among the characters that stood out for me: Flo, the elderly letter writer who shares hilarious episodes in her life while attempting to put to paper her apple pie recipe; Rita, a widow with a second chance at happiness; and the heroine of the title story and its companion piece The Day I Ate Nothing I Even Remotely Wanted, flip sides of a coin about Weight Watchers, dieting and self-esteem. By the end of the book, I had lots of ideas about things I'd like to eat, and a sense of satisfaction from having enjoyed my journey through many different lives in this delightful book.