Lilla's Feast by Frances Osborne
A True Story of Food, Love, and War in the Orient

No critic rating

Waiting for minimum critic reviews

See 5 Critic Reviews



At the end of her life, Frances Osborne’s one-hundred-year-old great-grandmother Lilla was as elegant as ever–all fitted black lace and sparkling-white diamonds. To her great-grandchildren, Lilla was both an ally and a mysterious wonder. Her bedroom was filled with treasures from every exotic corner of the world. But she rarely mentioned the Japanese prison camps in which she spent much of World War II, or the elaborate cookbook she wrote to help her survive behind the barbed wire.

Beneath its polished surface, Lilla’s life had been anything but effortless. Born in 1882 to English parents in the beautiful North China port city of Chefoo, Lilla was an identical twin. Growing up, she knew both great privilege and deprivation, love and its absence. But the one constant was a deep appreciation for the power of food and place. From the noodles of Shanghai to the chutney of British India and the roasts of England, good food and sensuous surroundings, Lilla was raised to believe, could carry one a long way toward happiness. Her story is brimming with the stuff of good fiction: distant locales, an improvident marriage, an evil mother-in-law, a dramatic suicide, and two world wars.

Lilla’s remarkable cookbook, which she composed while on the brink of starvation, makes no mention of wartime rations, of rotten vegetables and donkey meat. In the world this magical food journal, now housed in the Imperial War Museum in London, everyone is warm and safe in their homes, and the pages are filled with cream puffs, butterscotch, and comforting soup. In its writing, Lilla was able to transform the darkest moments into scrumptious escape.

Lilla’s Feast is a rich evocation of a bygone world, the inspiring story of an ordinary woman who tackled the challenges life threw in her path with an extraordinary determination.

From the Hardcover edition.

About Frances Osborne

See more books from this Author
Frances Osborne was born in London and studied philosophy and modern languages at Oxford University. She is the author of Lilla's Feast and The Bolter. Her articles have appeared in The Daily Telegraph, The Times, The Independent, the Daily Mail, and Vogue. She lives in London with her husband, George Osborne, and their two children.
Published December 18, 2007 by Random House. 322 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, War, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Lilla's Feast

The New York Times

See more reviews from this publication

In October 1942, the foreign citizens in Chefoo were rounded up by the Japanese and directed to a ''civilian assembly center.'' For the next three years, Lilla faced the supreme domestic challenge, one for which the ''rat-palace'' of Kashmir and the interfering British mother-in-law had inadverte...

Nov 21 2004 | Read Full Review of Lilla's Feast: A True Story o...

Publishers Weekly

See more reviews from this publication

Osborne is amazed by her great-grandmother Lilla, whose remarkable life took her from her birth in 1882 in Chefoo, China, to a "not quite prudent" marriage in India, a WWII Japanese internment camp and the end of her life in an England that didn't want her.

| Read Full Review of Lilla's Feast: A True Story o...

USA Today

Osborne tells the story of her great-grandmother, Lilla, who spent time in a Japanese-run internment camp in North China during World War II.

| Read Full Review of Lilla's Feast: A True Story o...

USA Today

The first line of Lilla's Feast: A True Story of Food, Love, and War in the Orient reveals that London's Imperial War Museum holds among its archives a cookbook written by a 58-year-old woman while she was held in a Japanese internment camp during World War II.The story behind the cookbook is the...

| Read Full Review of Lilla's Feast: A True Story o...

Reader Rating for Lilla's Feast

An aggregated and normalized score based on 9 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes

Rate this book!

Add Review