Sucking Eggs: What Your Wartime Granny Could Teach You About Diet, Thrift and Going Green by Patricia Nicol

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Sucking Eggs: What Your Wartime Granny Could Teach You About Diet, Thrift and Going Green by Patricia Nicol

Category: Politics and Society
Rating: 2.5/5
Reviewer: Zoe Morris
Reviewed by Zoe Morris
Summary: Not what you might expect, but an interesting read nonetheless, this is more historical tale than it is How to... guide.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 320 Date: August 2010
Publisher: Vintage
ISBN: 978-0099521129

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In the current economy, lots of people are trying to make ends meet in their own ways. Not since the days of Brownie badges has the word thrift been bandied around so much, but now it's not so much about saving money as it is about surviving. Actually, maybe it always was, but the Guiding Association thought a jolly piggy bank was a more appropriate badge emblem than a depressed family collapsed in front of their Sky TV with their supermarket-own curry struggling to fill the void left by a regular take away. What we all need is a return to the good old days, when life was simpler and people happier, the days when you didn't need to clear half an hour in your diary to navigate the olive aisle of the supermarket, and when you ate what was fresh and local, not because it was cheap or you were in the mood, but because it was all they had.

Patricia Nicol promises to tackle such problems in this book whose subtitle is what your wartime Granny could teach you about diet, thrift and going green. It sounded promising, so I was keen to get stuck in. By the end, I was sure, I would be well equipped to live for a week on nothing more than half a stale baguette and 50 pence, or at the very least would have learnt some tips and tricks to cut my weekly supermarket bill in half while vastly reducing the amount of rubbish I produced. Alas, today's Tesco trip was not the triumph I expected it to be, and my wheelie bins are in their usual state of overflow. So what went wrong?

I'll start by saying this is not a bad book. It has a lot of interesting information in, is logically presented and reads quite well. The tone is not incessantly chatty, but it flows and is pleasant enough.

What I also have to add, however, is that this is not the book I expected it to be from the title on the front and the blurb on the back. Rather than the tips and tricks of how to translate wartime mentalities into modern day tactics, this book focuses on the historical facts rather than their application. It is a look back at how things were, from ration books to fuel shortages, and examines the impact these had on the way people lived then...but the short titbits of advice that do crop up now and again are nothing new, and verging on patronising (don't buy bottled water when tap will do, don't binge shop clothes etc). In other words, what would otherwise be a quite ok documentary of the war years in Britain quickly transforms into a mishmash of historical fact and the sort of (unrelated) advice you could get from any woman's magazine today.

I was expecting to be given advice on how to do things, like how to recycle leftovers in a non-obvious way, or where best to source reliable but cheap products, or which areas of life take best to economising methods. I think I was left more disappointed by this book because I had such clearly defined expectations, but since these came from the cover of this very book, I don't think they were unreasonable.

I also thought there was too much repetition from other books. Admittedly I've not read any of them, but Nicol's choice to take chunks from other publications was a little dubious...and seemed a bit like cheating. If there's little new to say that's not been said before, maybe you should consider whether a new book on the topic is really needed?

If you are looking for an intricate social history illustrated with amusing government posters from bygone times then this book is worth a peek, but for actual advice on how to save pennies, tip number one should be not to buy this book...

It might not score any points for thrift for its title, but How to Feed Your Whole Family a Healthy Balanced Diet, with Very Little Money and Hardly Any Time, Even If You Have a Tiny Kitchen, Only Three Saucepans ... - Unless You Count the Garlic Crusher... by Gill Holcombe is, I think, more the sort of thing many readers would be looking for, so is a wiser place to start than this latest release.

Thanks go to the publishers for supplying this book.

Buy Sucking Eggs: What Your Wartime Granny Could Teach You About Diet, Thrift and Going Green by Patricia Nicol at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Sucking Eggs: What Your Wartime Granny Could Teach You About Diet, Thrift and Going Green by Patricia Nicol at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Sucking Eggs: What Your Wartime Granny Could Teach You About Diet, Thrift and Going Green by Patricia Nicol at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Sucking Eggs: What Your Wartime Granny Could Teach You About Diet, Thrift and Going Green by Patricia Nicol at Amazon.com.


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