“Mastering the Art of Cooking” by Anya Von Bremzen gives the reader a taste of life for a young girl in Soviet Russia. Covering the entire 20th century, the book details life under the Czars, the transition to Lenin, the rule of Stalin, the fall of Socialism, and the rise to power of Putin. What it adds that a history textbook could not is the memories of one who lived the experiences and who dealt with the shock of emigration from under such a country at the age of ten.
This book is exactly what it states: a memoir. If you are expecting a cookbook, you will not find it here (although the book does contain 26 pages of recipes). What you will find is a story–a story told as if from the lips of a woman who went through the hardships and joys herself. Occasional photographs give the reader a glimpse of the author’s life and family.
In all honesty, I myself have not finished the book. However, the parts I have read have given me an impression of the overall writing style and story. At points, the story gets bogged down in details. (What else should one expect of a largely history-based tale, though?) I had been expecting somewhat light reading with recipes interspersed throughout the story. This was not that book.
I was given a copy of this book by Blogging for Books in exchange for my unbiased review.