Recipe for a Beautiful Life: A Memoir in Stories - Rebecca Barry

If I were petty, I would admit that this book made me jealous — for the idyllic rural home, the welcoming coffee shop down the street and yes, the glittering book contract — but I am not petty (ha!), and I will give Rebecca Barry her due. To be fair, Barry has the good sense to include the messiness in her life, when the kids are not so adorable (but honestly, still cute little demons) and the house is a wreck and the bills need to be paid by a novel that can’t seem to find it’s way. Her gift is turning moments we recognize as ordinary into moments of lightness and grace.

 

While I was reading this book, I happened to visit some friends who are struggling with the arrival of their second child, and have that stunned, sleep-deprived look about them that I remember so well from a decade ago. And though Barry’s story was perhaps not so relatable, I couldn’t help but think that her voice could provide some measure of comfort to them. Barry is a mother who genuinely likes her children, and, for the most part, truly enjoys their company (often to the detriment of her writing schedule). Her joy and delight in them is compelling. A former magazine writer (Seventeen, Real Simple, Details, NY Times), Barry shows a refreshing lack of snark (and this from me, usually a huge fan of snark). I found her tracking the time she was able to carve out for her novel thought-provoking, and, when things were looking grim, appreciated her questioning their decision to leave their well-paid, big-city jobs behind. Most important, Barry finds a way to make this life she has imagined work. It is a life story I am interested in reading — not because she accomplished magnificent things, but because she helps me appreciate all of those seemingly insignificant things that happen every day, and, together, really do make a beautiful life.