The Rye Bread Marriage

How I Found Happiness with a Partner I’ll Never Understand

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By Michaele Weissman

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Experience a beautiful, humorous, universal love story with this memoir about learning to live with another human being and how every relationship is a mystery—and a miracle. 
 
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. When they meet again some years later, Michaele is ready. Or so she thinks. And opposites attract, right?

The life Michaele and John build together intermingles sweetness—their love of good food, entertaining, and family—with complications, including their ethnic and religious differences (Michaele is Jewish; John is not), the trauma John endured as a child during WWII, Michaele’s thwarted ambitions, and even John’s preoccupation with Latvian rye. When he opens a successful company marketing rye bread, Michaele embarks on a European journey in search of her husband’s origins, excavating poignant stories of war, privation, and resilience. She realizes at last that rye bread represents everything about John’s homeland that he loved and lost. Eventually Michaele comes to love rye bread, too.

An enticing memoir for readers of Dani Shapiro’s Hourglass, Bess Kalb’s Nobody Will Tell You This But Me, and Heather Havrilesky’s Foreverland, The Rye Bread Marriage asks, how do the stories we live and the stories we inherit play out in our relationships? After forty years of marriage, Michaele Weissman has a few answers.

Genre:

  • “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

On Sale
Aug 15, 2023
Page Count
288 pages
Publisher
Algonquin Books
ISBN-13
9781643752693

Michaele Weissman

About the Author

Michaele Weissman is a freelance journalist and author who writes about food, families, and American culture. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and dozens of other online and paper publications. She is the co-author with Carol Hymowitz of A History of Women in America, a narrative history that has sold nearly 250,000 copies since its publication in 1980. More recently, she is the author of God in a Cup, a travelogue and exploration of the specialty coffee scene.  She teaches writing and is a member of the steering committee of New Directions, a writing program for scholars and psychotherapists offered by the Washington Center for Psychoanalysis. At Politics and Prose, she co-leads sold out workshops helping writers find the imagery–and language–that is uniquely theirs. The mother and stepmother of three foodies, she has been married for 38 years to her rye bread co-conspirator, John Melngailis, a retired professor of electrical engineering at the University of Maryland. The couple live, cook and entertain in Chevy Chase, MD.
 

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