Lilla's Feast

Lilla's Feast

Lilla's Feast
A True Story of Love, War and a Passion for Food
Published by Doubleday


The tale of Lilla, the author's great-grandmother, begins with her birth in Chefoo in China in 1882, where she lived a charmed and Bohemian expat life, the younger of a set of 'heavenly twins' from a spirited, unvictorian family.

Lilla's eventful life was to span five continents and three husbands, forming a panoramic picture of British colonial life in the Orient (during the Boxer Rebellion, Pearl Harbour, and the rise of Communism) and under the British Raj in India. Throughout her life, Lilla's personal obsession was cooking. It was also her way of showing devotion to her cold and remote husband. Food was her wonderland and her means of survival, her way to help make 'a man love you, long for you, and hold back tears when he is forced to leave your side'. It was while Lilla was in a Japanese prison camp that she began to dream up recipes and jot them down like a modern Mrs Beeton. Her brother, a talented illustrator, provided drawings. Empowered by imagination and strength of spirit, her cookbook was composed as if the war had never happened.

Lilla's journey ends a hundred years on with her death in Tunbridge Wells - the peaceful conclusion to a sensuous, full life of passion, romance, and courage. Told tenderly and wittily by the author, in this family memoir Lilla becomes a living presence. The text will be liberally sprinkled with recipes, rare maps, letters and photographs from the author's personal archives.

Reviews & Comment

Lilla’s Feast is a Kiriyama Prize Notable Book

Amanda Foreman 'A wonderful, inspiring book, part page-turner, part history...Frances Osborne perfectly captures the stories of a lost generation of women.'

Santa Montefiore 'Passionately written and compelling...a wonderful read. The extraordinary life of this ordinary woman is a tumultuous feast of the senses.'

Margaret Forster ‘I loved Lilla’s Feast – absolutely absorbing, both for is historical content and its personal details. I felt for Lilla, every step of the way...a real feeling for place fills this book...lovely.’

New York Times – Editor’s Choice OSBORNE beautifully evokes a lost world, effortlessly offering up 1930's cricket-playing China.

USA Today ‘Osborne brings alive the world of her great-grandmother...dazzling and inspiring.’

Asian Review of Books Living history does not get much more lively than this gripping story

Tatler 'A wonderfully evocative, vivid, distilled book.'

Sunday Telegraph 'Osborne tells the story of her great-granny's life with page-turning brio.'

You Magazine 'A rapturous fusion of personal history and tales of Empire and the Far East.'

Glamour, Must-Read selection 'A smooth-flowing and enthralling testament.'

The Times 'Powerfully imagined...Her years in the Far East seem to cling to these pages, infusing the narrative with exoticism.'


Woman's Hour Feature

BBC Listen Again click here

Frances on Lilla's Feast in Waitrose Food Illustrated
To read the article click here

Franceson Lilla's Feast in The Spectator
To read the article click here

hardcover; paperback; ebook | 400 pages | 978-0552771887 | September 16, 2024