Author Archives: Oxana Gutu

“A man called Ove” by Fredrik Backman

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I just finished the book. And I cried. And I laughed. It is so human I wanted to embrace it. The author does so much justice to the roller coaster of the life of this amazing couple at the center of the narrative – Ove and Sonja.

The story line is rich, tender and explosive. It embraces such a diversity of characters throughout the book that at times I thought I am reading two or three novels in parallel. Yet, by a masterly stroke of the pen, they come together as one. It is quite extraordinary.

My favourite quote: “And when she giggled she sounded the way Ove imagined champagne bubbles would have sounded if they were capable of laughter.”

“The salt path” by Raynor Winn

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That’s some tale. I “walked” for miles and miles on the English coast line with this amazing couple – Moth and Ray. The reading made me straighten my back, lower my shoulders and relearn acceptance.

This couple in their 50s lost their home, family business and all income and walked into their next stage with their 8 kg each backpacks. On top of that, Moth was diagnosed with some incurable disease… . They endure, overcome, cry, despair, get up, and move on.

I read some of the reviews after I read the book. Some saw it as a diary, others as a coast guide and national geographic type of writing. Some focused on the homeliness side of the story only. Others on the iterations… It has it, indeed, a little bit of each. As with any reading, we will find there only what we have inside already…

My favourite quote from the book: “A new season had crept into me, a softer season of acceptance.”

Gaming parenting

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– Let’s go for a walk.

– Mom, it’s 2020! Who does this anymore?!

What we did instead was to play and hang out in Adopt me.

I played the baby and Sofia played the mom. A very good mom to a very spoiled brat. My personality online is the opposite of the one in real life. I wonder what Freud would say about it… Not that I care.

I chose my outfit – urban romantic glamour, in case you need to know. I decorated my room for a budget of 100 Gamedollars.

We had ice cream and pizza with Ramsay – in this precise order. Oh, Heaven!

We spent time on the playground and by the camp fire. I only had 50 gamedollars on my game account and I spent the time of my life. Because it was time spent with my treasure.

Kids grow. So do parents. When was the last time you played with your kid?

“My life in France: the life story of Julia Child” by Julia Child with Alex Prud’homme

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If you wonder about life in Paris in late 40s seen through the eyes of an American, this book might be of interest. Narrated by the main character – Julia Child – the book is a very personal take on life in Paris at that time, French cuisine being at the center of it. And it’s natural – it is that Julia Child, the legendary self-made cook, author, teacher and media presence in the times of those ugly boxes entering the Americans’ homes.

You’ll find here the history of Child’s first 728 page long cooking book, which she wrote and re-wrote with two of her French friends – “Mastering the art of French cooking”. It takes you literally through its notes, side notes, authors’ arguments, endless trials, tests and failures of recipes. And that’s important as at that time, “editors seemed to consider the French preoccupation with detail a waste of time, if not a form of insanity”.

Child pays tribute to all great chefs she met and learned from as well as to all who taught her tricks of the trade, ranging from bakers to meat, fruit and vegetables stands sellers from the regions of France.

I found the last chapters on Julia entering the TV world less interesting, yet those years were important for the effect she had on households and cooking people. Some stories there are funny too. Filming with a Dutch cameraman in a French open air market, for instance.

“One Day“ by David Nicholls

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“One Day” is reminder of living in the now. Not “when I’ll … then I will” kind of thinking. The novel is a story of two people in love with each other who lived their lives in parallel for almost two decades, until they married and lived ever happy until her life was abruptly interrupted by an accident only couple of years into their marriage.

The story line is braided in different years in different location, so I would not describe the reading as relaxing. You’ll have to make a bit of an effort to follow back and forth. It is absolutely worth it. You’ll see.

Easter meanings

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This Easter for me is about those who put food on our table. Every day. Crisis, no crisis.

Those who work the land from dusk to dawn. Those who water the crops and harvest it. Those who get their hands dirty and foreheads sweaty. Those who deliver it and put it on the shelves, so that we only pick and choose with our manicured hands.

Those in school kitchens, restaurants and cafes who feel no pain from burns and cuts, as their remedy is love for food and people they feed.

Parents who cook for their kids. Kids who cook for their parents. Grandmas who know no sleep over simmering pots in anticipation of their visiting grandchildren.

All those who will share what they have and cut a boiled egg in 2 and share it with a hungry human or a hungry cat.

Those who are grateful for their food and kiss the hands of those who put food on table. Every day.