The Theoretical Foot

The Theoretical Foot

A Novel

Book - 2016
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Baker & Taylor
A posthumous release of the preeminent food writer's unpublished first novel, written in her early 30s, traces the backpacking adventures of two unmarried couples in a 1930s Europe increasingly overshadowed by fascism.

Perseus Publishing
When Robert Lescher died in 2012 an unpublished manuscript of M.F.K. Fisher’s was discovered neatly packed in the one of the literary agent’s signature red boxes. Inspired by Fisher’s affair with Dillwyn Parrish -- who was to become her second husband -- The Theoretical Foot is the master stylist’s first novel. In it she describes the life she all-too-briefly had with the man she’d ever after describe as the one great love of her life.

It tells of a late-summer idyll at the Swiss farmhouse of Tim and Sara, where guests have gathered at ease on the terrace next to the burbling fountain in which baby lettuces are being washed, there to enjoy the food and wine served them by this stylish American couple.

But all around these seemingly fortunate people, the forces of darkness are gathering: The year is 1939; World War Two approaches. And the paradise Tim and Sara have made is being besieged from within as Tim -- closely based on Parrish -- is about to suffer the first of the circulatory attacks that will cause him to lose his leg to amputation.


Baker
& Taylor

"When her long-time agent and friend Robert Lescher died in 2012, the manuscript of M.F.K. Fisher's unpublished first novel was discovered packed tidily away in one of Lescher's signature red boxes. Following on the success of Serve It Forth and writtenwhen she was in her early 30s, the novel employs Fisher's characteristic sharp-eyed wit to sketch themes so outre; they may have seemed too challenging for a proper woman of her time to attempt. Set in the late 1930s,The Theoretical Foot concerns two expat American couples in Europe, tramping from country to country without sanction of marriage, this during an era when cohabitation - to say nothing of a girl's hitchhiking! -- could ruin a respectable woman's reputation for all time. As fascism spreads and war inevitably approaches, the idyll of a beautiful life of love and freedom from convention is also threatened from within, as the man in one of the couples falls gravely ill with a rare circulatory disease. And indeed, Mary Francis Kennedy Fisher and Dillwyn Parrish had been forced to return to Depression-era California where she was struggling to support them with her writing. Parrish - like the character in the story -- was afflicted with Buerger's disease, for which there was only one effective painkiller, unavailable in the States. Faced with unrelieved agony and the threat of serial amputations, Parrish killed himself in August of 1941. Weeks later the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and the entire world was engulfed in war. Why this most autobiographical of stories was never published during Fisher's lifetime we cannot know but it may have been that it concerned itself not only with what was considered at that time to be a scandalous, licentious-seeming lifestyle but with a lost and beloved world, the European continent utterly transformed by war. And it may have been that her continued grief over her loss of the man she'd always later describe as her one great love made the book too painful for her to revisit"--
Americans Sara Porter and Tim Garton entertain beautiful and talented visitors at their farmhouse in neutral 1938 Switzerland, as war in Europe gathers.

Publisher: Berkeley : Counterpoint, c2016
ISBN: 9781619026148
Branch Call Number: FIC FIS
Characteristics: 250 p. ;,24 cm.

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Mar 03, 2016

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