Recipes for a Beautiful Life

A Memoir in Stories

About The Book

Writing with “a delicate, beautiful balance of wit and yearning” (#1 New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Gilbert), Rebecca Barry’s poignant take on creativity, marriage, and motherhood will make you laugh and cry—sometimes at the same time.

When Rebecca Barry, writer, mother, cat lady, and aspiring meditator, and her husband moved to upstate New York to start their family, they were optimistic that they’d be able to build a life they’d love: one connected to nature and extended family, one where they could invest in their artistic dreams, spend time with their children, live cheaply, and eat well. Naturally, things didn’t turn out to be so simple: the lovely old house they bought to fix up needed lots of repair, their children wouldn’t sleep, and the novel Rebecca had dreamed of writing simply wouldn’t come to her.

“Anecdotal, funny, and telling, with the kinds of momentary glimpses of ordinary days that reflect something larger” (The New York Times), Recipes for a Beautiful Life is about reveling in the extraordinary moments in daily life while trying to balance marriage, children, extended family, and creative work. The book is an excellent companion for mothers with small children, but it also speaks to anyone trying to find meaning in their work or a life that is truer to the heart. Full of great dialogue, tongue-in-cheek recipes (Angry Mommy Tea), and tips on things like how to keep your house clean (“just don’t let anyone in”), Recipes captures the sweetness and beauty of answering your soul’s longing, as well as the difficulty, struggle, and humor that goes along with it. Mostly it is about the realization that a beautiful life, for this author, meant a rich, often chaotic, creative one. Or, as Redbook said when it featured the book in its “5 fabulous, even life-changing new reads” column: “Contentment isn’t about getting everything…but finding magic in the mess.”

About The Author

Photo Credit: Domenica Brockman

Rebecca Barry is the bestselling author of Recipes for a Beautiful Life: A Memoir in Stories and Later, at the Bar: A Novel in Stories, which was a New York Times Notable Book. Her nonfiction has appeared in numerous publications, including The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post Magazine, Seventeen, Real Simple, Food and Wine, Saveur, More, O, The Oprah Magazine, Hallmark, and The Best American Travel Writing 2003. Her fiction has appeared in Ploughshares, One Story, Tin House, Ecotone, The Mid-American Review, Best New American Voices 2005, and was shortlisted in Best American Short Stories 2000, 2004, and 2009. She is also a writing coach, and cofounder of the magazine Fresh Dirt.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (April 7, 2015)
  • Length: 320 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781416598053

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Raves and Reviews

"Barry's writes about writing, while balancing two children with her other arm. It's raw and true, heartbreaking and naked. And in the end it's the story of all of us who strive and settle, grunt and bear it, while still managing to laugh. Which is easy, cause Barry is sly and very, very funny."

– Julia Sweeney, author of If It’s Not One Thing, It’s Your Mother

“Rebecca Barry looks straight at her life and describes it—sometimes hilariously, sometimes movingly. Her generosity of spirit makes for an engaging, wise, and delightful read.”

– Ian Frazier, author of Travels in Siberia

“A solid addition to the growing genre of short, witty essays written by women about having a career while trying to raise a family.”

– Kirkus Reviews

“Spontaneous dinners with good friends, soul-searching through meditation and yoga, and hilarious snippets of child rearing—all come alive in Barry’s memoir, which the reader will relish.”

– Booklist

“Dip in and out without missing a beat or the message: Contentment isn’t about getting everything…but finding magic in the mess”

– Redbook

“Unblinking honesty and bright humor . . . [Barry’s] book is refreshing and hopeful, yet not afraid to examine moments of despair . . . warm, authentic, and funny. She manages somehow to be truthful about parenthood without falling into treacle or sanctimony. An expert at vignettes, she easily conjures up the people in her life and the various moods of our landscape.”

– Ithaca Times

“Writing with a delicate balance of humor and truth, critically acclaimed author Rebecca Barry reflects on motherhood, work, and marriage in her new memoir about trying to build a creative life.”

– Sweet Paul Magazine

“This book will bring a welcome dose of brightness--leavened with acerbic wit--to those who, like Barry, are simply trying to do worthwhile work and care for the people they love.”

– Shelf Awareness

Recipes is anecdotal, funny and telling, with the kinds of momentary glimpses of ordinary days that reflect something larger — and funny. Did I mention funny?”

– New York Times's Motherlode

There is just no way I could pack everything I love about Barry’s book into this small space, so I’ll just say—with firmness and a little catch of emotion in my voice—you need to go discover her writing for yourself. Don’t make me reach through the internet, grab you by the collar and drag you down to a bookstore to buy Recipes for a Beautiful Life, because you know I’m currently reading a how-to manual on how to do just that very thing.”

– The Quivering Pen

“This woman was me. Somehow, she had reached inside my heart and revealed myself to me, told my story far better than I ever could.”

– Bookriot

"This is not a parenting book, but those who are in the thick of early motherhood will appreciate this book, this Not-A-How-To-How-To collection of stories that expose the sordid details of marriage and parenthood, the ones that lie behind the scenes of a life that seems romantic and wonderful and magical to everyone else. And the stories are funny because they are true. I know Rebecca Barry. I am Rebecca Barry. I know dozens of Rebecca Barrys. We Rebecca Barrys dream a world of farm shares, starlit summer skies, neighborhood coffeeshops, family nearby, friends at the ready with wine and cheese and bread and company."

– The Real Nani

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