The Red Kitchen

The Red Kitchen : A Memoir

4.06 (17 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author) 

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At the age of seven, Barbara witnesses a frightening incident between her parents. She goes on to spend much of her childhood toggling between the happy family she longs for and the unhappy one she's in but can't repair. Disturbed by the smell of rotting leaves and an uneasy feeling about her father, she will spend half her life trying to get to the bottom of the reasons why.

As an adult, a summer in Africa allows Barbara to live without labels-wife, mother, daughter, sister-and become the woman she wants to be: funny, compassionate, complex, and often flawed. The Red Kitchen is the story of both Barbara and her mother, who, like many women, both spend much of their lives surrendering to society's expectation to be one thing while yearning to be another. Ultimately, both women-in very different ways-come of age, find the loving parts of their mother-daughter relationship, and start living their best lives.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 264 pages
  • 139 x 215 x 22.86mm | 340.19g
  • Berkeley, United States
  • English
  • 1647420083
  • 9781647420086

Review quote

2020 CIBA Journey Book Awards 1st Place Winner

"The Red Kitchen is a lyrical and painful chronicle of a dysfunctional-and typical-American family. It is also the story of a woman's slow but steady shift from meeting everybody else's expectations toward striving to realize her own dreams. A vivid and well-written memoir."

-Priscilla Long, author of Fire and Stone: Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?

"Clarke's memoir contains a significant message: Take charge of your own life-it's not too late. . . . Her story can be an inspiration to other women to live their best lives within their own convictions."

-Story Circle Reviews
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About Barbara Clarke

Barbara Clarke has received many labels through the years, some unwanted-"Best Body" in the ninth grade and "ex-wife" twice. In midlife, she worked in Kenya; she later developed a career as an executive. She has moved more than sixty times. A mailperson once told her that she held the local record for the most forwarding labels of someone not fleeing the law: three. And most recently she was given a label she treasures, earned in a class developing this memoir: "Most likely to start a forgiveness movement." You can find out more about her varied career as a writer and read her blog at She lives in Bellingham, WA.
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Rating details

17 ratings
4.06 out of 5 stars
5 35% (6)
4 41% (7)
3 18% (3)
2 6% (1)
1 0% (0)
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