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The Taste of Longing
- Ethel Mulvany and Her Starving Prisoners of War Cookbook
- Narrated by: Gwenlyn Cumyn
- Length: 10 hrs and 54 mins
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Half a world away from her home in Manitoulin Island, Ethel Mulvany is starving in Singapore’s infamous Changi Prison, along with hundreds of other women jailed there as POWs during the Second World War. They beat back pangs of hunger by playing decadent games of make-believe and writing down recipes filled with cream, raisins, chocolate, butter, cinnamon, ripe fruit - the unattainable ingredients of peacetime, of home, of memory.
In this novelistic, immersive biography, Suzanne Evans presents a truly individual account of WWII through the eyes of Ethel - mercurial, enterprising, combative, stubborn, and wholly herself. The Taste of Longing follows Ethel through the fall of Singapore in 1942, the years of her internment, and beyond. As a prisoner, she devours dog biscuits and book spines, befriends spiders and smugglers, and endures torture and solitary confinement. As a free woman back in Canada, she fights to build a life for herself in the midst of trauma and burgeoning mental illness.
Woven with vintage recipes and transcribed tape recordings, the story of Ethel and her fantastical POW cookbook is a testament to the often-overlooked strength of women in wartime. It’s a story of the unbreakable power of imagination, generosity, and pure heart.
What the critics say
“This is a story about an unusual woman in an unbearable situation. Evans has delved deep and written with great sympathy about the long drama of picking up the pieces of a broken life.” (Elizabeth Hay, author of Giller Prize winner Late Nights on Air)
“I loved every minute of The Taste of Longing.... This is an ‘I-can’t-put-it-down’ book, an historical biography that reads like a novel - an ordinary life made extraordinary through circumstance and an inordinate amount of courage.” (Dr. Marie Adams, author of The Myth of the Untroubled Therapist)
“A fascinating story that begs to be told.” (Elizabeth Baird, coauthor of Recipes for Victory: Great War Food from the Front and Kitchens Back Home in Canada)