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Most kids would have seen being put to work as cruel and unusual punishment, but Julia, the youngest of nine kids, knew her day was coming and accepted it with pouty grace.
Julia Pandl's Memoir of the Sunday Brunch is a tribute to her parents and to the family business, a restaurant in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It'd be safe to say her upbringing was a bit unorthodox (her father let her drive the car by age fourteen), but all those tough Sunday brunches brought her closer to her father and taught her valuable life lessons.
Most of Pandl's memoir focuses on her family life and relates stories about her parents, her place among her siblings, and working in the restaurant. I particularly liked her descriptions of the brunch service. It takes an enormous amount of hard work, and George accepted no excuses for being late or for poor workmanship.
I had to laugh at Pandl's descriptions of the food eaten at home. As she herself mentions, the cobbler's kids are always barefoot. In a like way, the Pandl kids were often subjected to out-of-date restaurant food Dad just could bear to throw away. I'm surprised no one died of food poisoning.
Memoir of the Sunday Brunch is short, heart-felt memoir that is neither inspirational nor sentimental. Julia Pandl's family life was just different enough to make for interesting and sometimes funny stories, without verging into the realm of craziness. My only complaint is that I wish more of the book had been set in the Bayside restaurant.
Algonquin Books is a featured imprint on Beth Fish Reads. For more information about the imprint, please read Executive Editor Chuck Adams's introductory letter, posted here on January 7, 2011.
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Published by Workman / Algonquin Books, November 13, 2012
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