Imagine that you are a girl and the firstborn among five boys, one of whom went on to play professional baseball for the New York Yankees. Imagine that your father, a physically imposing man, deliberately chose a six-foot woman to be his bride so that they could produce athletic sons. If you are Molly O誰eill and your brother is the estimable Yankee outfielder Paul O誰eill, you take all this in your stride and seek a path of your own. For Molly O誰eill, writing and later on cooking became an antidote to the high levels of testosterone that flowed through the house when the O誰eill children were growing up. In this memoir, which intersperses compelling narrative with patches of meandering prose, Molly O誰eill chronicles her childhood in Ohio and her professional adult success as a food critic in New York City.
Molly痴 mother produced healthy multi-course meals for her perpetually hungry boys; Molly sought, sometimes vainly, to broaden their perspective by staging plays, reading poetry, and generally inviting culture to the athletic domain. While all the O誰eill children believed that they were destined for greatness, interestingly it was the oldest, Molly, and the youngest, Paul, who rose to prominence in their fields. Unfortunately, the middle part of the book goes off on multiple tangents and we don稚 really get to know why Paul had the success that he had and not his brothers.
Molly O誰eill is a gifted writer, no doubt, as she narrates the vicissitudes of both the growing-up years and her coming of age with skill and eloquence. The book is a saga of the quintessential American life of yesteryear as the parents wish and enable a better life for their children. While enjoyable in its nuanced portrait of a boisterous family, it loses its grip on the reader in the middle, only to come roaring back in the end.