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Publisher's Summary

Named a Favorite Book for Southerners in 2020 by Garden & Gun 

"Donovan is such a vivid writer - smart, raunchy, vulnerable and funny - that if her vaunted caramel cakes and sugar pies are half as good as her prose, well, I'd be open to even giving that signature buttermilk whipped cream she tops her desserts with a try." (Maureen Corrigan, NPR)

Renowned southern pastry chef Lisa Donovan's memoir of cooking, survival, and the incredible power in reclaiming the stories of women

Noted chef and James Beard Award-winning essayist Lisa Donovan helped establish some of the South's most important kitchens, and her pastry work is at the forefront of a resurgence in traditional desserts. Yet Donovan struggled to make a living in an industry where male chefs built successful careers on the stories, recipes, and culinary heritage passed down from generations of female cooks and cooks of color. At one of her career peaks, she made the perfect dessert at a celebration for food-world goddess Diana Kennedy. When Kennedy asked why she had not heard of her, Donovan said she did not know. "I do", Kennedy said, "Stop letting men tell your story." 

Our Lady of Perpetual Hunger is Donovan's searing, beautiful, and searching chronicle of reclaiming her own story and the narrative of the women who came before her. Her family's matriarchs found strength and passion through food, and they inspired Donovan's accomplished career. Donovan's love language is hospitality, and she wants to welcome everyone to the table of good food and fairness. 

Donovan herself had been told at every juncture that she wasn't enough: she came from a struggling southern family that felt ashamed of its own mixed race heritage and whose elders diminished their women. She survived abuse and assault as a young mother. But Donovan's salvations were food, self-reliance, and the network of women in food who stood by her. 

In the school of the late John Egerton, Our Lady of Perpetual Hunger is an unforgettable Southern journey of class, gender, and race as told at table.

©2020 Lisa Donovan (P)2020 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"Yes, it's about love, family, food, and one woman's personal and professional journey. But more than all that, Our Lady of Perpetual Hunger is about life force, the unquenchable flame within us that demands to survive and thrive. It could only be written by Lisa Donovan, and it should be read by everyone." (Mary Laura Philpott, author of I Miss You When I Blink)

"Lisa Donovan writes with a voice that is both bruised and tender in Our Lady of Perpetual Hunger. In tracing her path to food, Donovan honors the women who shaped her philosophy in the kitchen, reminding us of the necessity of women telling their stories in a world so eagerly determined to erase them. We are quite lucky to live in a world where Donovan has written her own story with such grace." (Mayukh Sen, James Beard Award-winning writer) 

"Donovan...reveals the struggles and hard-fought lessons that have made her the courageous woman that she is today....[W]ritten in a fierce and visceral style....In a world that all too often credits male chefs for the culinary contributions of women and people of color, [Our Lady of Perpetual Hunger] is a valuable addition to the culinary memoir canon." (Booklist)

What listeners say about Our Lady of Perpetual Hunger

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Take Up Thy Place Among Culinary Greats

I am absolutely telling everyone about this story. Already gifted it to my sister. What a genuinely touching memoir. This is a book that makes you want to write. Share your stories. Makes you feel less alone in this incredibly screwed up world. I am grateful to be alive in a time stories such as Lisa Donovan’s are being shared and passed along to a generation of cooks and chefs who truly are some of the most loving and genuine people on the planet. Thank you Chef Lisa, I am in awe of your story.

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My heart is overflowing

Her story, heart strength and prowess is undeniable. Listening to someone so perfectly articulate experiences that parallel my own in uncovering and finding our lineage/passion/hurt/family history left me weeping. A must read for all.

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best ever account

as a woman chef she puts into words what we all want to scream out loud

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Powerful Story

Great author and narrator. Powerful story about the world at large and the world of women in professional kitchens. Obviously I am not a woman and this book was eye opening for me and leaves me with so many questions for the strong women in my family.

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Beautiful

Simply beautiful, heartbreaking, inspiring, and a reminder of how much harder women have to work to achieve their dreams. I’m a better person for listening to Lisa’s story.

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Beautiful and moving .

Lisa's writing and narration is very special and heartfelt. You don't have to be a "foody" to enjoy this feast of a memoir. I laughed and cried. Highly recomend. Thank you Lisa for writing your story and sharing it with us. You are a champion.

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  • NB
  • 09-28-20

Beautifully written, inspiring

Beautifully written memoir. Lisa Donovan is the kind of strong, thoughtful, good person that all of us can aspire to be.

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A touching look at being a woman in a demanding, unreasonable

A touching look at being a woman in a demanding, unreasonable field of work that feeds your soul but does not feed your family. And eventually does not do the former. Truthful descriptions of a woman’s internal dialogue formed by historical family dysfunction and undermining treatment by peers. All resolved by a clarity of purpose and the support of generous woman and a more generous husband. Sweet. Disturbing. Beautifully written! Oh, and there is food mixed in with it all! Loved this book. Les

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Exquisite

Lisa Donovan's writing is at once exquisitely beautiful, piercingly raw and unflinchingly honest. I was not expecting to cry so often listening to this self narrated memoir of a renowned pastry chef, cook and lover of fruit. I can't remember the last time a person's writing has touched me so deeply, pulling forth emotions I didn't know resided inside me and perhaps inside of all women. I am grateful to her for sharing her story, so hard won. I hope to see a lot more of her work and eagerly await a cookbook with all her best recipes, especially those with buttermilk. Thank you.

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MUST READ

Wonderful. What an amazing voice to hear right now. I will definitely reread againvand again.