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Publisher's Summary

In the tradition of Elizabeth Gilbert and Ruth Reichl, former New Yorker editor Emily Nunn chronicles her journey to heal old wounds and find comfort in the face of loss through travel, home-cooked food, and the company of friends and family.

One life-changing night, reeling from her beloved brother's sudden death, a devastating breakup with her handsome engineer fiancé, and eviction from the apartment they shared, Emily Nunn had lost all sense of family, home, and financial security. After a few glasses of wine, heartbroken and unmoored, Emily - an avid cook and professional food writer - poured her heart out on Facebook. The next morning she woke up with an awful hangover and a feeling she'd made a terrible mistake - only to discover she had more friends than she knew, many of whom invited her to come visit and cook with them while she put her life back together. Thus began the Comfort Food Tour.

Searching for a way forward, Emily travels the country, cooking and staying with relatives and friends. She also travels back to revisit scenes from her dysfunctional Southern upbringing, dominated by her dramatic, unpredictable mother and her silent, disengaged father. Her wonderfully idiosyncratic aunts and uncles and cousins come to life in this audiobook, all part of the rich Southern story in which past and present are indistinguishable, food is a source of connection and identity, and a good story is often preferred to a not-so-pleasant truth. But truth, pleasant or not, is what Emily Nunn craves, and with it comes an acceptance of the losses she has endured and a sense of hope for the future.

In the salty snap of a single Virginia ham biscuit, in the sour tang of Grandmother's lemon cake, Nunn experiences the healing power of comfort food - and offers up dozens of recipes for the wonderful meals that saved her life. With the biting humor of David Sedaris and the emotional honesty of Cheryl Strayed, Nunn delivers a moving account of her descent into darkness and her gradual, hard-won return to the living.

©2017 Emily Nunn (P)2017 Simon & Schuster, Inc.

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The Recipe for Finding a Way Forward

I know the author Emily Nunn. We were both born in the same small town of Galax, VA. Our families were friends, along with her Aunt Mariah and Uncle John who lived next door to us with their three daughters. This memoir was especially poignant for me. To hear the narrator talk about our neighbors and friends from so very long ago, and to understand some of what happened in Emily's life after we moved away in 1968, was very personal for me.

I listened to this audiobook with my husband on our very long drive from Virginia to Georgia and back again. He knew none of the people in this book and found it as utterly captivating as I did.

As Leo Tolstoy famously wrote in Anna Karenina, “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

This is a story about "rethinking our idea of family" as Toni Nunn suggests to her cousin Emily more than once. And so the author sets out to reconnect with people she was once close to in her life - many of whom reached out to her through Facebook, after she hit rock bottom and the bottom of a gin bottle, offering a safe haven and a welcoming home.

The idea of the Comfort Food Diaries emerged out of Emily's life long connection to the food experiences of her childhood and from her professional career as a food writer in both New York and Chicago. It made sense to her to ask people around her about the food that brought them comfort. And she does. And those answers, from pickles and pimento cheese in Tidewater, to her epiphany about pasta with chicken liver sauce in Charleston, add a dimension to her journey of recovery that is unlike any other.

Her descriptions of meals, food preparation, and the recipes contained in this book are a feast for the ears. I also have the hardcopy of this book and it is expressly to have the recipes it contains. But regardless of whether you consider yourself a "foodie" or not, you will relate to the importance comfort food has in our lives - from our earliest childhood memories to what we choose to have for our birthday dinner, or to ring in the New Year, or to help us get through a case of the blues.

Candace Thaxton is a wonderful narrator. I could listen to her read to me every day, and I was truly sorry when the book was over. I highly recommend this book for general consumption.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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LOVED this book so much I listened to it twice!

I absolutely adored this book. The storytelling, writing and narrating were perfect and so enjoyable. Emily's story, and the way she tells it, is very beautiful and so easy to relate to. We all get lost at times in life and trying to find your way back can be trying; especially if you get too far lost. Emily's tale of finding herself again was interesting and engrossing. I thoroughly enjoyed this book so much and highly recommend it to anyone who loves food and needs to hear a story about someone else whose life wasn't perfect but she kept on fighting because, after all, "we all do the best we can at any given time."

I purchased a hard copy of the book because I want the recipes in written format and I want to have easy access to many of her quotes.

I also enjoyed the narrator's voice. It truly brought the story to life.

If Emily Nunn writes another book, I will be one of the first to purchase it. I would also love to read a book about Portia's cooking. She made amazing meals and Emily hinted that she used her freezer to assist in her cooking. Would enjoy learning more about how she made such creative meals on an everyday weeknight.

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Terrible Narration

I might buy the Kindle or paper version for the recipes, but other than that I can't really recommend this book. With such a title I was expecting something more uplifting, but instead got a continuous rant about how awful this woman thought her family had been to her. It's like going out for a coffee date with a friend who really needs a shoulder to cry on and then not leaving for several days. I like helping my friends, but I really don't appreciate paying for the privilege of helping a stranger, especially when I thought I was getting entertainment. The whole experience is made worse by a strained narration style that sounds like the reader is always out of breath. The whole experience made me tense!

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A more interesting version of Eat, Pray, Love

An educated woman with a pleasantly dysfunctional Southern background, who has held one or two dream jobs, experiences tragedy and goes on an odyssey to find a new life for herself. Ms. Nunn is a good enough writer to make the parts of the story that are most valuable--the cooking stories--an interesting and entertaining read. She's also smart enough to acknowledge, at least occasionally, that she has mostly lived a privileged adult life and hers are certainly "first world" problems. That's not to say that losing a sibling, as well as a relationship with the man who was going to be "the one", is not enough to make anyone wish they could just get in their car, point it somewhere, and go. The hard part is for most people, that's all it could be, a wish. For most of us, we might be able to take a few days off, but then it's back to a job and the daily grind if we want to eat and have a place to live. In trying to work through the current trauma, as well as one's from the past, Ms. Nunn crisscrosses the landscape, spending a few months with these relatives, a few weeks with this old friend, and sounds as if she's having a delightful time doing it. But for anyone who has had to struggle through painful and devastating events without a host of eccentric, smart, or loving characters to take you into their beautiful homes and relieve you of the need to make living....well, I guess I should be more empathetic. Every time she mentions she's lost everything--apartment, job, boyfriend, money--I want to ask her, "but how are you getting around? how are you buying a cup of coffee and putting gas in your car?" If you can enjoy the book for its culinary action, you'll get a satisfying meal; if you expect to gain insight on overcoming grief or breakups, not so much.