Love in the Time of Cholesterol: A Memoir with Recipes

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A heartfelt memoir about life and love after heart disease

Cecily Ross makes her living writing and reading about food. She and her husband, Basil, are very much in love -- with each other and with good food. In fact, their romance was sparked by a wonderful meal cooked by Basil. But when Basil nearly died from heart disease, the couple was forced to evaluate their eating habits and retool their lifestyle. Love in the Time of Cholesterol is ...

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Love in the Time of Cholesterol

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Overview

A heartfelt memoir about life and love after heart disease

Cecily Ross makes her living writing and reading about food. She and her husband, Basil, are very much in love -- with each other and with good food. In fact, their romance was sparked by a wonderful meal cooked by Basil. But when Basil nearly died from heart disease, the couple was forced to evaluate their eating habits and retool their lifestyle. Love in the Time of Cholesterol is their story.

This poignant and often funny memoir follows Cecily and Basil as they learn to adjust to life after his heart surgery. With candor, Cecily discusses the couple's struggle to meet the unique challenges of living with Basil's condition, the compromises they've had to make, how they cope with the fear and anxiety that are now part of their lives, and the secret to living and eating well with heart disease. There's also a generous helping of mouth-watering, heart-friendly recipes. Love in the Time of Cholesterol is the first book to give voice to the millions of men and women whose lives have been changed as a result of their partner's heart disease.

This is a love story -- an affair of the heart in both the literal and figurative sense.

In the spring of 2002, Cecily Ross was a well-known food writer and editor and her husband, Basil Guinane, was a fit and vigorous forty-four year old who had just embarked on a new career. When Basil suffered a heart attack and almost died from heart disease, their lives changed in ways they'd never imagined. In the five years that they'd been married, one of the couple's shared pleasures was a love of cooking and good food. Suddenly, food was the enemy, and Cecily and Basil were confronted with the fact that what they were eating could be killing them. After the bypass surgery that saved Basil's life and during his long, painful recovery, their first instinct was to make radical changes to their diet. They flirted with vegetarianism and banned butter and cheese from their lives. Together they pored over every heart-smart cookbook they could find, and their kitchen cupboards groaned under the weight of vast quantities of lentils and beans. Inevitably they cheated, and every time they succumbed to the siren call of sirloin or gave in to the beckoning of bacon, they were consumed with guilt. Food, once a pleasure, was now a source of fear and anxiety.

Gradually, as the months passed and Basil recovered his strength, they came to realize that they were going to have to take a more moderate approach, not just to food but to all of the strivings that were affecting their hearts and their spirits.

Love in the Time of Cholesterol is Cecily Ross's chronicle of her husband's heart attack, surgery, and recovery. It is the story of how she and Basil learned to make compromises and still live and eat well. It is the story of a marriage and about the pressure she felt as a wife, caregiver, and best friend. Above all, it is a love story and a celebration of life in all its ragged glory. And what would life be without good food?

In each chapter, Ross features delicious, heart-friendly versions of the couple's favorite recipes, including Basil's famous roast chicken, leek and smoked salmon frittata, hoisin black-bean flank steak, and corn salad with lime-cilantro dressing. Poignant, funny, and remarkably honest, Love in the Time of Cholesterol offers hope and solace to anyone whose life has been touched by heart disease.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Ross, food critic at Canada's Globe and Mail, chronicles the prelude to and two years following her husband's heart attack and open heart surgery. She and Basil meet while working at a magazine, fall in love and marry. Yet it's the younger of the two (he's 39 and she's 46) who falls victim to heart disease, though he's in denial about the problem and brushes off his initial heart attack ("The pain was awful, but it's gone now," he tells Ross, and then hops in the shower). Though Basil is "an extremely private person," Ross writes with unabashed detail about her husband's health, dwelling on every hint and clue to his ultimate diagnosis: unstable angina, likely caused by an arterial blockage interfering with blood flow to the heart. As the couple deal with their frustrations with medical personnel and Basil's growing depression and anxiety, Ross remains a staunchly devoted wife. While the book humanizes the clinical aspects of heart disease, Ross's recipes (though enticing enough) lack nutritional stats and are not well connected to the narrative (the segue from surgery to Date and Walnut Loaf is one example). However, families coping with heart disease will no doubt find that the reassuring love tale of Basil and Cecily rings true. (Feb.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Ross, a senior editor and writer for the Globe and Mail (Toronto), offers a wonderfully written, heartfelt story about life after her husband's heart surgery. This event turned the couple's world upside down: not only did they have to change how they ate, but they also had to learn to deal with daily anxiety and fear. Ross does a great job of describing the denial that people often experience when they suspect a heart attack and how and why they often don't seek medical attention sooner rather than later. Not that the book is all doom and gloom-Ross includes hilarious observations, such as her story about dog park etiquette, and food is a recurring theme. Each chapter concludes with two of her favorite recipes, many of which this reviewer has dog-eared for future reference. Social support systems and books for spouses and caregivers of heart disease patients are generally lacking; this book offers those audiences an inside look at what to expect after such a diagnosis. Highly recommended for all collections.-Howard Fuller, Stanford Health Lib., Palo Alto, CA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780071464949
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Companies, The
  • Publication date: 12/9/2005
  • Pages: 260
  • Product dimensions: 6.12 (w) x 8.66 (h) x 1.03 (d)

Meet the Author

Cecily Ross is a senior editor and writer for Canada's national newspaper, The Globe and Mail. Her work has been featured in the New York Times. She lives in Ontario, Canada.

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