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The Measure of My Powers

Jackie Kai Ellis memoir, The Measure of My Powers, recounts how her love of baking lead her out of depression and on a globetrotting journey of self-discovery.

Jackie Kai Ellis

On the surface, Jackie Kai Ellis's life was the one that every woman — herself included — wanted. She was in her late 20s and married to a handsome man, she had a successful career as a designer and a home that she shared with her husband. But instead of feeling fulfilled, happy and loved, each morning she'd wake up dreading the day ahead, searching for a way out. Depression clouded every moment, the feelings of inadequacy that had begun in childhood now consumed her and her marriage was slowly transforming into one between two strangers — unfamiliar, childless and empty. In this darkness, she could only find one source of light — the kitchen. It was the place where Jackie escaped, finding peace, comfort and acceptance.

This is the story of how, armed with nothing but a love of food and the words of the great 20th century food writer M.F.K. Fisher, one woman begins a journey — from France to Italy, then the Congo and back again — to find herself. Along the way, she goes to pastry school in Paris, eats the most perfect apricots over the Tuscan hills, watches a family of gorillas grazing deep in the Congolese brush, has her heart broken one last time on a bridge in Lyon and, ultimately, finds a path to life and joy. (From Appetite by Random House)

From the book

In the months that followed, I felt myself become more numb. There were muffled sounds of laughter and life bus­tling all around me, and yet it felt like I was submerged deep underwater, separated and hearing only the sound of my own breath and my heart slowly beating. I lived in this isolated world, sometimes comforted by the imaginary cocoon that solitude cre­ated, but mostly feeling anxious and restless for anything but the stillness. I was desperate to escape the feeling, and the longer it continued, the more I fantasized about a world where not only did I not exist, but where I had never existed at all. 


From The Measure of My Powers by Jackie Kai Ellis ©2018. Published by Appetite By Random House.

Interviews

"The Measure of My Powers" talks about following love a pastry and travel 6:26
Jackie Kai Ellis of Beaucoup bakery shows her local honey treats 6:14
Jackie Kai Ellis on her bestselling memoir. 15:52