Mama’s Comfort Food
By Rhett DeVane
Reviewed by Peggy Kassees
“The secret to outliving cancer is positive living . . . I didn’t mean to think positive; I meant to live in a positive way.” That’s an excerpt from Mama’s Comfort Food, by Rhett DeVane.
Smooth as whipped butter, sweet as melted chocolate, refreshing as iced mint tea, Rhett DeVane’s book melts on the tongue and slides down with all the comfort of, well, mama’s comfort food. With writing as rich as Carol Burns’s Mama’s Secret Recipe Chocolate Chip Cookies (included in the book), Rhett takes us to the thriving small town of Chattahoochee, Florida, home of one of Florida’s Mental Health Hospitals for the Criminally Insane, and home town of Karen Fletcher/Mary Elizabeth Kensington, who is undergoing a crisis of her own.
Over twenty years ago Karen Fletcher turned her back on everything and moved to Atlanta. She changed her name, assumed a British accent, and became a celebrity on Georgia Metro Public Television, Mary Elizabeth Kensington. She has two cats and a fiancée in Atlanta, and yet she is alone preparing to face one of the most terrible of diseases: breast cancer.
Unsure of her welcome, Karen/Mary arrives on her mother’s doorstep. Karen Fletcher must not only come to grips with the disease, but with herself, too. It is time she decides who she really is. DeVane tells a rich tale filled with Karen’s family and friends. We ride along with Karen’s ups and downs, intermixed in the small town life that not only thrives in the South, but in every corner of the world: A place where people come together to support one of their own. DeVane skillfully weaves the tradition of food as mankind’s basic comfort along with compassion and caring in this heart-warming book.
As one of the supporting characters, Margaret, says: “You see, its one thing to go around saying that you’ll be healthy and live a long life. It’s entirely another to really live each day as if it was the greatest gift in the universe. Love your family. Kiss babies. Play with abandon. Make chocolate cake and . . . sit and watch a sunset.”
Mama’s Comfort Food weaves a story of compassion, humor and poignancy that will resonate with anyone who has gone through the agonizing process of dealing with a serious illness.
Rhett DeVane is an SLR contributor. This is Rhett’s fourth novel. Her other works include The Madhatter’s Guide to Chocolate, Up the Devil’s Belly, Evenings on Dark Island (with Larry Rock), and Accidental Ambition (with Robert W. McKnight).