Cover image for The kitchen congregation
The kitchen congregation
Seton, Nora.
Personal Author:
First Picador USA edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Picador USA, [2000]

Physical Description:
246 pages ; 22 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3569.E8 Z87 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



A beautifully rendered reflection on life lessons learned by the author in her mother's kitchen--about loss and renewal and how women navigate their lives.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

In most homes, the kitchen is the gathering place for meals, for conversations, for homework, for advice, for gossip, for nourishment, whether physical or spiritual. Although traditionally the domain of the women of the household, the kitchen is a place for men, too--some just visit, while others are actively involved. In her highly personal and somewhat sentimental memoir, author Seton allows us to visit the kitchens that have been central in her experience. In the process, the reader shares the presence of five women who were major influences on the person that Seton became. One of them is the author's mother, novelist Cynthia Seton, whose early death from cancer leaves longings that can't be satisfied. The hopes, dreams, and memories of these women provide an undercurrent to the everyday routine of meals and ordinary events. Their recipes and secrets provide the flavors that make the extraordinary out of the ordinary. Friends and mentors all, the women who make up this kitchen congregation are a group well worth meeting, and well worth honoring for what they have to teach. --Danise Hoover

Publisher's Weekly Review

In a graceful paean to the pleasures of motherhood, friendship and food, the daughter of novelist Cynthia Seton writes of her admiration for her mother, who raised five children while maintaining a stimulating intellectual life. At the center of their household was cooking, which Seton's mother saw as offering sustenance and hospitality. Seton herself re-creates her mother's life in some ways, reveling in the role of stay-at-home mom to her two young children (another was stillborn), although she is a gifted, published writer as well (The Road to My Farm). Seton's poetic observations (a loaf of bread is as "round and tawny and warm as a cooling ember") and her palpable yearning for her lost child and her mother, who died of leukemia while the author was in college, give this tranquil work a deeper layer of emotional resonance. Like her mother, Seton also places great value on her intense friendships with women. She profiles older friends who appear to be mother substitutesÄSenta, a Swiss embodiment of European dignity, and Ida, a 90-something practicing therapistÄas well as an idealized intellectual exchange with her friend Laura. Coming full cycle, Seton finds herself the confidante of a young college woman. Though the quality of these portraits varies, Seton succeeds in conveying the sustenance each relationship gives her. Author tour. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Seton here moves us through time to various kitchens she's enjoyed with special friends and family members (mostly female) and embellishes reminiscences with cherished recipes that revive the spirit of that friend. We begin in the kitchens of her youth, learning about the relationships between Seton, her mother, and their friends. We empathize with the loss of her mother, novelist Cynthia Seton, then follow Seton to new kitchens as a young married woman and mother seeking companionship from older, wiser women and other young mothers. Finally, we come full circle to Seton's revelation that she is now the older, experienced, stew-making woman that her neighbor's college daughter confides in. As in The Road to My Farm, Seton's warm, fluid prose is woven together beautifully, though these chapters can also stand alone, reminiscent of some essays in Through the Kitchen Window (Beacon, 1997). Recommended for public libraries.--Bonnie Poquette, Shorewood P.L., WI (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

1. Cynthiap. 1
2. Alone in the Kitchenp. 62
3. Sentap. 69
4. Two in the Kitchenp. 110
5. Gdap. 126
6. Too Mang in the Kitchenp. 167
7. Laurap. 176
8. The Congregationp. 218
Acknowledgmentsp. 247