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When they first meet, John— a dashing European, a Latvian refugee, a physics PhD—is hoping to settle down. Michaele, a fast-talking American college student, is hungry for an independent life as a writer and historian. “I am too young, and you are too Latvian,” the twenty-year-old Michaele tells the twenty-eight-year-old John, explaining why she is ending their four-month romance.
Fifteen years later, the two are married. Their love for each other does not assuage the trauma John experienced as a child during World War II; nor does it help Michaele understand her husband’s unwavering devotion to every aspect of Latvian culture, particularly his passion for the dark, intense rye bread of his birthplace (nothing like the rye she knew growing up in her secular Jewish household).
Michaele feels like an outsider in her own relationship, unable to touch a core piece of her husband’s being. So, as John realizes his dream of opening a rye bread bakery, Michaele embarks on a fascinating journey. Delving into history and traveling across Europe with John, she excavates poignant stories of war, privation, and resilience—and realizes at last that rye bread represents everything about John’s homeland that he loved and lost. Eventually Michaele even comes to love rye bread, too.
How do the stories we live and the stories we inherit play out in our relationships? How do individuals learn to tolerate ethnic, religious, and national differences? The Rye Bread Marriage is a beautifully told, often humorous, love story about the messiness of spending a lifetime with another human being. Michaele Weissman reminds us that every relationship is a mystery—and a miracle.
“In her captivating memoir, Michaele Weissman affirms that we are all more connected than we think. With a little bit of humor and a lot of grace, Weissman makes the case that marriage is an emotional continuum, and love is just one end of it. This book is all at once honest, relatable and endearing.”
—Pati Jinich, New York Times bestselling cookbook author and host + executive producer of PBS’s La Frontera and Pati's Mexican Table
“Weissman's striking reverence, her bold humility, and her compassion for her brilliant and traumatized Latvian husband as she unearths his compulsion for his home country’s bread make this tale of food and love and life and war soar. I closed the last pages with tears in my eyes for the gift of these complex histories, this compelling love story—and a determination to find the best rye bread in town.”
—Lauren Francis-Sharma, author of Book of the Little Axe
“This book is a love letter, one that explores relationships and marriage. It’s a book about the history and the beauty of bread. But most important it is a courageous book about the complexity of love.”
—Mark Furstenberg, James Beard Foundation’s Outstanding Baker 2017 and owner of Bread Furst Bakery
“Beautiful. Michaele Weissman takes us on a magical journey across continents and time, and I doubt there is a couple who won’t see themselves in the story of this marriage. The trail of rye bread crumbs (real and symbolic) led me to an emotional glimpse of the impact of love, war and fear on our humanity and who we become.”
—Liz Neumark, CEO and founder, Great Performances Catering, and author of Sylvia’s Table.
"What is marriage? is a question asked and answered throughout this engaging, thoughtful, and compassionate memoir. The Rye Bread Marriage is a wonderful read."
—Elizabeth Poliner, author, As Close to Us as Breathing
- "A charming, insightful meditation on the intersection of love, family, and food."—Kirkus Reviews
- “The result is a witty celebration of marriage that’s sure to resonate with anyone who’s taken the plunge.”—Publishers Weekly
- “I loved this book; it’s one of the most real, honest, funny and at times heartbreaking stories about what it’s like to be in a long-term marriage."—GMA.com
- “Moving… a satisfying meal of a memoir”—Culture Wag
- On Sale
- Aug 15, 2023
- Page Count
- 288 pages
- Algonquin Books