Under a Mackerel Sky by Rick Stein

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Under a Mackerel Sky by Rick Stein

Category: Autobiography
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: An honest and revealing autobiography which concentrates more on Stein's childhood and early adult life than I expected but it's an engaging book and you can hear Stein's voice as you read.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 320 Date: August 2014
Publisher: Ebury Press
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0091949914

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Rick Stein was born if not to wealth then certainly to privilege. He was raised on an Oxfordshire farm and spent holidays at the family's home in Cornwall. His parents were gregarious and intelligent and he was one of five children who led the sort of open-air life that country children did in those days before we worried about stranger danger. He enjoyed school and loved Cornwall, where he gained a reputation as he got older for giving riotous parties in a barn on the Cornish property. It was idyllic - until the day that his father (who was bi-polar) committed suicide. Stein's reaction to this was to head to the Australian outback where he worked in a variety of jobs (some more palatable than others) and finally came back to England, via America and Mexico.

After graduating from Oxford University he ran a mobile disco and then a nightclub in Padstow (made possible by a legacy from an Uncle whom he'd never met) which catered to a rather rowdy element in the town. When the police finally closed him down after one fight too many he was left with a licence to serve food - and his first restaurant was born. From disaster came a career as a successful restaurateur, television personality, and writer as well as various other businesses interests and a reputation as a food champion.

I expected the book to concentrate on Stein's life after he took on his first restaurant, but about half of the book is devoted to his childhood and early adult life. He's brutally honest throughout the book about his own actions (dare I say, tediously so about his early sex life?) and is quick to shoulder the responsibility for what he does. It's refreshing in an age when autobiographies frequently degenerate into self-justification. He's perceptive about himself and others and the telling of his story is full of his wry humour and self deprecation.

Stein writes well and fluently - his voice comes off the page as you read and the book feels honest. I liked that he's totally respectful of his first wife and business partner, Jill and levels no criticisms at her for the failure of their marriage. It's a good and engaging read, which I enjoyed. I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

If you've enjoyed this book then we can also recommend Shooting the Cook by David Pritchard. For some of Rick Stein's recipes you might enjoy Coast to Coast which we prefered to Taste of the Sea.

If you'd like to read an excerpt from the book Amazon has a 'look inside' feature.

Buy Under a Mackerel Sky by Rick Stein at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Under a Mackerel Sky by Rick Stein at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Under a Mackerel Sky by Rick Stein at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Under a Mackerel Sky by Rick Stein at Amazon.com.



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