Charlotte Au Chocolat

Charlotte Au Chocolat

Memories of A Restaurant Girlhood

Book - 2012
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Like Eloise growing up in the Plaza Hotel, Charlotte Silver grew up in her mother's restaurant. Located in Harvard Square, Upstairs at the Pudding was a confection of pink linen tablecloths and twinkling chandeliers, a decadent backdrop for childhood. Over dinners of foie gras and Dover sole, always served with a Shirley Temple, Charlotte kept company with a rotating cast of eccentric staff members. After dinner, in her frilly party dress, she often caught a nap under the bar until closing time. Her one constant was her glamorous, indomitable mother, nicknamed "Patton in Pumps," a wasp-waisted woman in cocktail dress and stilettos who shouldered the burden of raising a family and running a kitchen. Charlotte's unconventional upbringing takes its toll, and as she grows up she wishes her increasingly busy mother were more of a presence in her life. But when the restaurant-forever teetering on the brink of financial collapse-looks as if it may finally be closing, Charlotte comes to realize the sacrifices her mother has made to keep the family and restaurant afloat and gains a new appreciation of the world her mother has built.

Infectious, charming, and at times wistful, Charlotte au Chocolat is a celebration of the magic of a beautiful presentation and the virtues of good manners, as well as a loving tribute to the author's mother-a woman who always showed her best face to the world.

Publisher: New York : Riverhead Books, 2012
ISBN: 9781594488153
Characteristics: 258 p. ; 19 cm


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Jul 26, 2018

The best stories are those where you want to jump in the shoes of the narrator, live their experiences, and feel everything on the page. This is such a story. It's just a wonderful, sweet, endearing memoir of growing up as the only child of a glamorous restaurant mother and all the delight, joy, hardship and love in a variety of forms that entails. There's such a nostalgic tone to this story, and such a deep tenderness for the situation that it's hard to finish. Or way too easy to not stop, rush to finish, and after you've done so, wish you could live in the place where you were taken. It's like a hug from your grandmother, if your grandmother was loving yet eccentric and fancy, and commanded life while wearing cocktail dresses and stilettos.

jeanner222 Aug 17, 2012

Charlotte Silver’s parents owned a restaurant in Harvard Square, Upstairs at the Pudding. Yes, it was located above the famed Hasty Pudding Club.

This memoir recalls Charlotte’s childhood spent at the Pudding: drinking Shirley Temples, sleeping under the bar, and wearing pretty taffeta dresses. The demise of her parents’ marriage is discussed, as well as the decline of the restaurant’s financial viability.

I wanted this to be a memoir about food. It is not. An inordinate amount of ink has been devoted to this girl’s apparel. And who cares about that?


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