French Milk with Relish – Lucy Knisley

Posted 28 February, 2014 by Trish in Reading Nook, Review / 29 Comments


Title: French Milk
Author: Lucy Knisley
Published: 2008 Pages: 208
Genre: Memoir (graphic)
Rating: Meh

In Short: When Lucy was 22 she and her mother spent six weeks in Paris. French Milk is her journal of the trip in drawings (and the occasional photograph).

Thoughts in General: French Milk is a fun look into Lucy and her mother’s stay in Paris–we get to see the sights that they saw and drool over the elaborate meals they devoured. From that aspect I enjoyed the book. What I would have liked to see more of, though, was any type of emotion or commentary on her time spent away (other than her constant annoyance at this or that or the other). I’m just going to chalk this up to her being a young artist but I was still left wanting much more depth.

French Milk is drawn differently than most graphic novels I’ve encountered. The pages are all a single panel as shown in the illustration to the right (click to enlarge). I liked this method and enjoyed Lucy’s illustrations.

Bottom Line: French Milk has received favorable reviews among bloggers so you might enjoy it more than I did. Unfortunately for me it fell completely flat.

Title: Relish: My Life in the Kitchen
Author: Lucy Knisley
Published: 2013 Pages: 176
Genre: Memoir (graphic)
Rating: Seconds, please!!

In Short: Lucy shares her experiences growing up around chefs, restaurants, and a vast love of food.

Thoughts in General: I loved Relish! It was exactly what I was hoping that French Milk would be–Lucy explored the things that make her tick and her excitement for food and all things culinary was so evident in the pages. In addition she explored her relationship with her parents and certain moments that defined her youth.

Relish appears in more traditional comic form and in vibrant full color. My favorite parts of the book were the recipes Lucy included at the conclusion of each chapter. Each recipe was complete with her personal tips and instructions and my only regret about the book (other than it not being longer) is that a more traditional recipe section was not included for easier reference while in the kitchen. I’m dying to try her Pasta Carbonara!

Bottom Line: I was so sad to return my copy of Relish to the library. I’m going to have to buy it and I highly recommend it to foodie lovers and/or those who enjoy or are interested in reading graphic novels.

Bon Appetite! Or maybe I should say Bonne Lecture!

Every weekend, Beth Fish Reads hosts Weekend Cooking.  “Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs.”  Hope you’ll join the fun!

29 Responses to “French Milk with Relish – Lucy Knisley”

  1. I really liked both of these but did think Relish was the better book. With French Milk, I couldn’t figure out what milk she was talking about – we lived in France for 2 years and didn’t have milk like that.

  2. I’ve started French Milk twice, as in looked over the first few pages, but I still haven’t delved in to finish it. Relish sounds awesome, so thanks for the suggestion.

  3. Ooh, I’ll have to look for Relish! I read French Milk years ago and really enjoyed it, but that may have been due to my relative inexperience with graphic novels in general and my newness to reading books set in Paris. I’ve had much more exposure to Parisian memoirs in the years since, so I’d probably have a different reaction now. Isn’t it funny how that happens?

  4. I liked Relished, but I adored French Milk – probably because I spent six weeks in France at around that same age, and had many similar experiences. It felt like something to really connect to.

  5. I really liked Relish. I remember reading French Milk but it didn’t leave an impression on me. I can’t remember if I liked it or not.

  6. This made me so happy to read, Trish! Because I liked French Milk, but just didn’t love it like so many other people do. This one sounds like something I’d enjoy a lot more too, and lucky for me I have it checked out from the library. Even though I won’t fit it in for comics month, I can read it next month since Chris and I are doing memoirs, etc. for March.

  7. I felt about the same way you did about French Milk so I’m definitely going to have to give Relish a try! It sounds interesting where as I kept waiting for there to be a point to French Milk.

  8. Les

    I haven’t read very many graphic novels, but I added French Milk to my TBR list after reading a bunch of rave reviews a year or two ago. Now I’m more interested in Relish! I’ll have to see if my library has copies.

  9. There are things that I really love about this pair of books: the sense that you’re peering into her sketchbook of memories more than reading a graphic novel and how you feel you understand her based on the details she shares about her relationships. But I didn’t love them the way that a lot of readers seem to, the way you seemed to respond to Relish.

  10. I felt the same way about those two books! I have never recommended French Milk to anyone, but have gifted Relish twice – once to my sister who is so difficult to buy things for (she loved it, yay!) and another to my Japanese friend (just sent it so no idea what she thinks of it)

  11. I saw Relish reviewed on another site, and while I normally don’t seek out graphic novels, I think I will grab a copy of this. Thanks for the great book reviews!

  12. I want to read Relish, but I think I’ll leave French Milk to everyone who visited France in their formative years! My daughter went a couple of years ago for a semester abroad program (without her mother); I should get it for her, maybe.

  13. I loved French Milk but probably because there were certain things I could relate to it when it comes to travels. I do agree that Relish had more depth and it was interesting to read about how she great up. I love her drawings aren’t they great? I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next!

  14. I LOVED Relish, and I’ve been meaning to read Knisley’s other book. Sorry to hear that you didn’t like it as much – I’m hoping I will!