Eden was born in 1920 into a contentious California tribe, and the ingredients of her life include her grandmother’s reserve, her aunt’s instinct for action, and her mother’s foggy warmth. Seasoned with spicy herbs, and a few bitter ones, simmered and stirred over time, these instincts shape her destiny.
Two strong-willed women—her grandmother Ruth Douglass and her aunt Afton Lance—struggle to pull Eden from the comfy sloth of her parents’ home. Her ill-matched parents drift toward financial collapse, and her father, pursuing phantom wealth, takes the family to an Idaho mining town. He finds fulfillment in Idaho, but Eden’s mother breaks down, and Eden must shoulder the household drudgery, burdens not in keeping with her aspirations to be a journalist.
Eden’s adventurous spirit takes her far from her faith and family. She falls in love in wartime London and rides a motorcycle across war-torn Belgium. After the war, still reeling from a devastating loss, Eden returns to Southern California and is hired by a newspaper, only to confront insidious opposition, yet find an unexpected ally.
Then, in 1952, fate puts Eden Douglass in the path of a runaway horse at Greenwater Movie Ranch, where they’re filing a B-movie Western. She falls flat on her face, and Matt March lifts her from the dust. Charming and charismatic, with good looks, cowboy boots, and appetite for life, and his VistaVision of the Western, Matt ignites Eden’s passion. Three months later, they elope to Mexico.
In these exuberant California boom years, Eden nourishes Matt’s dreams, even though they are sauced with secrets and larded with debt. He tests Eden’s strengths and his children’s love.
A big-cast book, American Cookery fulfills the wide embrace of its title. The novel chronicles the stories behind family recipes and the lives that touch Eden’s—lives of horse thieves, ranchers, railroad men, developers, dreamers, migrants, immigrants, natives, Latter-Day Saints, sinners, silent-film stars, sidekicks, and stunt people.
The good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful emerge in these pages as American Cookery serves up the whole gorgeous banquet of life.