Karen Weinreb - The Summer Kitchen


Happy Mothering Sunday.

To mark the UK version of Mothers Day (celebrated in May in the USA), I share a tale of a mother who embraced devastating failure eventually appreciating the blessing it brought to role as a mother. “What It Felt Like To Lose Everything” (paywalled article) is an account by Karen Weinreb told by Fleur Britten (which has also been made into a fictionalise account in Weinreb’s “The Summer Kitchen”)…

  • “Karen Weinreb lost her home, her husband, her friends and her millionaire lifestyle in one fell swoop. What it felt like to lose my home, my marriage, my friends and my millions when my husband went to prison for fraud. She went from having it all to losing the lot…I had some savings, but, without the means of affording help and no surviving family, motherhood — with a newborn, a three- and a four-year-old — suddenly became a raw experience. Supporting them when they were too young for me to go out to work was a terrible shock. I returned to writing to make a living. In my old life, I would go to the supermarket alone; it was a luxurious experience. With so much help at home, I never used really to think about mothering, but now they had to come with me, knocking things over and running around. Of course, this way is actually better, and I have a much closer relationship with them because of it. Instead of the chef doing all the cooking, they began to help me, so we’d all be in the kitchen, cooking, setting the table together and laughing. We all pitched in to save ourselves and, together, we bonded and got to know each other. People used to ask how I coped with three children, but it helped me — it’s because of them that I got up in the morning. I didn’t have time to focus on the ghastliness of the situation, and all the isolation, anger and material loss had to be put aside. ‘In being forced to look inside myself. I found a strength and independence that I will never lose again.’”