Charlotte Au Chocolat
Memories of a Restaurant Girlhood
By Charlotte Silver
(Riverhead Hardcover, Hardcover, 9781594488153, 272pp.)
Publication Date: February 16, 2012
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
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.
Charlotte Silver grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts, before attending Bennington College in Vermont. She studied writing at the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference and has been published in The New York Times. She lives in New York and Boston.
Charlotte Silver recalls her rich childhood in the new memoir, Charlotte au Chocolat. The author grew up in a famed restaurant owned by her mother â?? Harvard Square's Upstairs at the Pudding, which catered to famous intellectuals and celebrities. More at NPR.org
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- Charlotte spends her childhood in a world of adults. How does this affect her? In what ways is Charlotte like an adult even as a child? In what ways does she act her age?
“Charlotte au Chocolat charms.”—The New York Times Book Review
“Every paragraph here is a confection of wit, color, texture, and taste, all overlaid with a dusting of melancholy for a lost restaurant, a lost time, a childhood that set Charlotte Silver apart and inspired her to write this utterly captivating memoir.”—The Huffington Post
“Silver illustrates the details of her upbringing with luminous clarity
. . . these poignant moments are as exact as poetry.”—The Boston Globe
"Bright and vivacious."—USA Today
"Child of artist-restauranteurs, Silver recalls a girlhood filled with pink linens, candied violets, and constant threat of financial ruin. But it’s her ode to her quirky, dazzling mom that makes the dish."—Good Housekeeping
"Charlotte au Chocolat is simply exquisite. Savor it. Devour it. Silver has taken a cool-eyed, unsentimental look at her unique and strange childhood and made lavish, glorious art of it."—Lily King, author of Father of the Rain
"Charlotte Silver has written a love song to a remarkable restaurant and a vanished world. I devoured these pages with the same enthusiasm as the author brings to pheasant’s legs and steak tartare on toast."—Margot Livesey, author of Eva Moves the Furniture
"Reading Charlotte au Chocolat is like sitting down to a sumptuous, many-coursed dinner--and then, after taking your last bite of Queen Mother's cake, having the pleasure of lingering in the kitchen, where a cast of vivid characters conjures culinary magic until closing time. A feast of a book!"—Allison Hoover Bartlett, author of The Man Who Loved Books Too Much