The Year of Soup, by Howard Reiss
I’ve been re-reading The Year of Soup by Howard Reiss this week. It’s a beautifully written book with two main characters, Tess, who opens a soup shop after three failed relationships and confused with her sexual identity, and Beany, an elderly professor who, I believe sees a lot of himself in Tess. It’s a sad, but a beautiful book full of heartwarming descriptions of soups and herbs, and full of history and poetry as it covers excerpts of Beany’s life. Tess pours her entire self into her soups and lets it be known that her life is plenty full, creating and cooking soups and that she has no room for (anything or anyone) else.
Their friendship grows as Beany shows up every Thursday for a bowl of soup and to enjoy a bottle of wine and philosophical discussions with Tess. On the one-year anniversary of their year of soup, Beany takes his life, and Tess is bequeathed a stack of letters from Beany’s long life. Reading through the letters, Tess is able to come to terms with her own life, and Beany’s death and learn to love herself and let others in again.
I have no recipe for today, but I am working on a recipe for soup based on Tess’s description of back-to-our-roots soup. It has turnips, parsnips, leeks and lemon juice that “…will stand up to any salad or bread, as well as your most assertive worries.” ~Howard Reiss, The Year of Soup.
I first read this book nearly four years to the date that my father took his life. Some may read the book and think that Tess should get over it sooner as the months go by and she reads Beany’s letters. I understand how the shock and pain of losing someone, especially someone in your family, to suicide can affect you for years. It doesn’t matter if you had a long relationship, or short relationship, or perfect or flawed… It takes as long as it takes and I don’t think you are truly ever the same. Tess finds some solace in determining some of the possible reasons Beany took his life, from free will to being old, to being heartbroken, but she knows that nobody will completely understand.
This book is only $.99 at Amazon right now.