Thursday, June 17, 2010

Spoken From the Heart...An Edible Review



Spoken From the Heart

I am joining Jain at Food for Thought and Michael Lee West at Designs by Gollum for Foodie Friday allows me to combine two of my great loves—reading and cooking!

Knowing my great love for biographies and autobiographies, my youngest son gave me Spoken from the Heart for Mother’s Day and I have truly enjoyed reading it. The strongest sense I got while reading was an almost tangible sense of peace and acceptance. The autobiography reads exactly like her public persona—soft spoken.


I found the first half of the 456 page book the most enjoyable and, by far, the most revealing. She writes of an idyllic childhood marred only by her longing for siblings and the sadness over her mother’s “late miscarriages”---a euphemism for the lost brother and other two babies never again discussed. She discusses in depth the tragic car accident that took the life of her classmate while she was at the wheel of the other car. She admits a guilt from which there is no absolution but realizes “there is no great clock to unwind”.

I was moved by how poignantly she describes her heartache when she was unable to conceive in early marriage. She says that there is no word in the English language to mourn absence. She says, “For those who deeply want children and are denied them, those missing babies hover like a silent, ephemeral shadows over their lives. Who can describe the feel of a tiny hand that was never held?”. I sensed once again the mourning of lost siblings and that Laura Bush’s sense of responsibility as wife and mother far outweighed that of First Lady.


The second half of the book is far less personal and interesting to me. Perhaps the lack of intimate details is by design or perhaps it is out of necessity to include all the facts. Mrs. Bush writes of people, places, and events with little personal insight. The exception is her moving account of September 11.


I got a strong sense that Laura Bush is happy to be back in her native Texas with lifelong friends, close ties to the land around her, and a slower schedule. She wrote a paragraph about the early years of her marriage in Midland. She writes, “I remember one summer evening working in the flower beds in our yard after the girls had gone to sleep, while the sun still hung low in the sky. George was sitting on the steps reading the newspaper, and I thought to myself , “This is the life”. And it was.”. Haven’t we all had a moment like this---one when life seems so peaceful and you wish you could freeze it? I recently had one of those days.


Oddly enough, I am the “fisherman” in the family. Beloved much prefers hunting, but he indulged me and took me to a friend’s private pond. You can see the tip of my pole in the left corner :). It was a perfect afternoon in a beautiful spot.


The fish were biting. And I thought of Laura Bush--This is the life”.


We fried the fish for lunch on Sunday. You can find the hushpuppy and tartar sauce recipes on an earlier post here.


8 cups shredded cabbage (I buy the bagged variety)

1 cup shredded carrot

3 tablespoons sugar

1 cup mayonnaise

3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

3/4 teaspoon dry mustard

1/2 teaspoon celery seed

1/4 teaspoon black or white pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix all and refrigerate.

Don’t forget to visit Food for Thought on Saturday and Designs by Gollum on Friday. Thanks Ladies!


  1. Thank you for sharing this book with us. I admire Laura Bush and think I would enjoy her book. Beautiful days are moments to remember.

  2. Thank you for the wonderful book review. I admire Laura Bush so much and have friends who know her. They say she is as she appears to be... sincere and down to earth.
    Your food looks so scrumptious. I love to fish but haven't had the opportunity in a very long time. I need to think about doing that soon.
    Thanks!! Lovely posting.
    Ladybug Creek

  3. Susan, I enjoyed reading your post about the bio of Laura Bush. Joni

  4. A beautiful post. So glad u joined food for thought. Jain would be proud. I often feel for women who have difficulty conceiving. I can only imagine the feeling,I did not know Mrs Bush faced that.

    This was a wonderful n interesting review. And I liek nothing better than those fish you had just fried to a crisp. My all time favourite food.

  5. Enjoyed your book review. Looks like a nice peaceful place to fish. Your fish lunch looks yummy. I was not hungry until I saw your picture - now I need to find some lunch. :D

  6. Well, isn't this a delightful post! I love hearing your thoughts on the biography and the insights from Laura Bush you included. I love how she expressed the heart ache of infertility. Even God's word says that it "can not" be comforted. I love biographies and think this one is definitely worth reading!

    I also love the transition to the fishing/food! I am definitely going to check on the blog on this theme.

    Your cole slaw sounds really good too!

    Great post!

  7. I've enjoyed reading your post about the book and Laura Bush. I love that you went right into some comfort food.. lol I hope all is well your way... hugs ~lynne~

  8. I so enjoyed reading your post. I love Laura Bush and think that she is one classy lady!

    And oh my goodness- your pictures - in the cooler and the fried up-- made me miss my dad's fishing and then the meals. He was a fisherman and hunter.

    Your fish supper looks delicious!:)

    And I love those "this is life" moments...

    Linda C

  9. I want to read that book, I always admired her.
    I make my coleslaw the same it. Soon the cabbage will be in at the farms here. I love this time of year when I can shop at Farmstands and WmSonoma. :)
    I am about to do a post on my latest purchase!

  10. Even though hubby & I had catfish, hushpuppies & slaw for lunch today, yours is making my mouth water! Another one of the books on my "to read" list.
    Beckie in Brentwood, TN

  11. Susan, This is such a wonderful, informative and touching post!!!! I have Laura Bush's book sitting on my bookshelf ready to read next.
    You did a splendid job describing the book.

    I so enjoyed your sharing of your perfect life moment. The fish must have been biting! And the lunch looks fresh and delicious!
    My moment might be swinging on the swing on my back porch watching the fireflies turn on their lights in the farmer's field. With a good cup of coffee in hand and my family sitting all around.

  12. Susan, this is one of the books in my stack to read. Sounds like I'm going to enjoy it. I'd really enjoy some of that wonderful looking fish dinner too. I'll be trying your slaw recipe. Thanks. laurie

  13. Oooops! I forgot to tell you that Laura Bush was in our little town for a fund-raiser interview! Yep! Laura was in Blytheville! Can you believe that? You may have read on my blog that we have THE most amazing book store owner here. We get some incredible people in our town because of our bookstore owner. I wish I had emailed you - you might have wanted to come see the interview at our local Little Theatre. laurie

  14. Love your review. Yes, Laura Bush is a wonderful lady. Like how you had a moment like Laura's moment. You really do have to stop and savor those!
    Thanks for sharing.

  15. Thanks for posting the review. I want to read this book but I need to wait as I just read the other book that is suppose to be about her life written by ??? I don't have the book with me at the beach and I am sorry I can't remember the title off the top of my head. Now you can't get fish any fresher then your fish but after the Cobia incident I am not eating fish for the rest of the summer:-)

  16. Your review is so well written, Susan. I had the book in my hands at Costco but didn't buy it. I've always admired Laura Bush and thought she was a beautiful first lady. I would have wanted more personal insights as well.

  17. Susan, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. Are those bream on your plate??? I remember fishing for those as a child, and I always fished with a cane pole and a worm! I could bait my own hook, but I could not, would not take the fish off the hook. I was afraid of being finned! ;-)

    The book sounds interesting. I always got the sense that she was serious about her work as First Lady, but that she really longed to be out of the spotlight and at home with the ones she loved. She was a great First Lady, but that longing for home came through somehow. I thought it was me just projecting it on her, but apparently, that's really her. Interesting. Thanks for the review.


    Sheila :-)

  18. What a great review! I've seen her bits & pieces of her on her book junket & wondered about the book. I've always had the sense that she was a Lady~ whether "First" preceeded it or not~

    You are quite the fisherwoman! I usually have pole at the ready at the lake, but am focused on a book, so the "catching" is incidental to me~ sitting by the water, reading is one of my "this is the life moments".

    Thanks for sharing this book, your fish dinner looks delish :-)

  19. hank you. A thoughtful review, not a book I would have considered reading but maybe now...

    Great fish!

  20. What a yummy looking meal. And a nice review!

  21. so nice to see you back at fft! what a sweet gift from your son. i really enjoy biographies, its nice to get a real sense of someone through their own words. i can really relate to her in the garden and thinking this is the life, its the quiet moments that we can enjoy.

    look at you catching your own dinner, what a great post! i was just happy sitting at the pond, who knew dinner was a bonus!

    thanks for a great review, i think its so fun to share book through pics and good food, it just makes reading all that more enjoyable when you can share in the end!

  22. Lovely review and the fried fish dinner looks delicious. Fried fish, French fries, and cole slaw - yummy! I haven't read the book yet, but want to. I think Laura Bush would find your fishing spot her kind of place. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on her book. Laura Bush is a gracious individual who enjoys and appreciates the natural beauty of this world. ~ Sarah

  23. Sounds like an interesting read. My Mom was a great fishwoman!! After her death when we were cleaning out the basement in her Vermont cabin we found one of her fishing boots. Inside was a dead fish! We knew what that meant! The last time she had fished she went over the limit and hid one in her boot--we looked up and said, "Be sure your sins will find you out" and we had a good laugh!

  24. I live in Texas and Crawford is not far from where I grew up. I got a few copies of the book and had them autographed! I'm giving one away on my blog -

    I posted the part of your review (with a link to your site) about infertility since I am dealing with that too.

    Coleslaw looks delicious, but doctor just put us on Mediterranean diet for cholesterol.

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