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How to Cook Your Daughter: A Memoir

by

How to Cook Your Daughter: A Memoir Cover

 

 

Excerpt

Chapter One
Red Mill Road

For many children, death is one of their first vivid memories. Usually, it's a grandparent or great aunt, someone distant, someone old. You see your parents cry, perhaps for the first time. And it startles you. But they console and soothe you, they reassure you because they know that you can't possibly understand death, not when you are just four years old.

For me, the man who died was in his twenties — about the same age as my mother and father. And though I was four and too young to understand exactly what had happened, I was old enough to be scared.

They found him in his Hollywood apartment, and those who knew him — my parents included — gathered the next day in the living room of a friend's house. I was sure — absolutely convinced — that his body lay somewhere in that house. I still remember how I clung to my mother, my wide eyes searching the pale, shocked faces. They seemed at least as scared as I was, huddling on the couches as if they were telling secrets — whispering and hushed, as though whatever killed their friend lurked just around the corner. They said he'd "OD'd," but of course, that meant nothing to me. Then "choked on his own vomit." Then: "Poor Chris. Heroin killed him." What I saw, what I was sure would happen in just a few seconds, was the man walking toward me, covered in vomit, snarling with his nose and mouth and body dripping with this black goo "heroin." Behind him there'd be a trail.

Heroin. I wanted nothing more than to get away from that house, to go play with my sister, Kathy, in the sun, to go home to Laurel Canyon. But I had to stay here with adults who seem as bewilde red as me. And I was terrified: Would Heroin get me too?

It's not the most ideal of childhood memories. But you have to consider the time (1969) the place (California) and of course, the parents. Mine had come thousands of miles from England to experiment with the Southern California scene of the late 1960s. They were born during the Second World War, part of the generation that would be responsible for the Swinging Sixties. My mother grew up in Wimbledon, a suburb of London. Her father, Alfred Christmas, owned a chemist's shop. She, her sister, and her brother lived with my grandmother and grandfather in a mock Tudor house built on a lot leveled by a V-bomb in the waning years of the war. My grandfather spent his time growing roses and humming. Kind but emotionally reserved, he had a habit of walking with his arms behind his back, his right arm bent with the hand clutching his left arm, as if holding himself back. My grandmother proved warmer than her husband. On our visits, she played with us and baked jam tarts and Victoria sponge cakes for afternoon tea.

One of her great sorrows was her name: Doris. My grandmother said my great-grandparents had planned to name her Kathleen. But at her christening, when the godfather was asked to name the child, he announced — much to the horror of the assembled relations — "I name the child Doris." And Doris she would stay. When I heard the story some years ago from my mother, I asked, with a degree of skepticism, what any American of my generation would: "Why didn't her parents say anything?" At the same time, I was saying to myself: because they were English. As I can attest, the value of keeping silent for the sake of maintaining family peace seems to run in our veins.

Doris and Alfred named their second child — my mother — Judith. But for much of her life, Judith was Judy. I imagine it must have been hard being called "Judy Christmas." As I told my mother during one of my more obnoxious moments as a teenager, it seemed a name more suitable for a stripper than for an intellectually gifted and talented girl like my mom, who became the bright light of her family by earning a place at Girton College, University of Cambridge.

Anthony Hendra, my dad, was born the son of a stained-glass maker and raised in rural Hertfordshire, the region in which Jane Austen set Pride and Prejudice. Even as a child, he seems to have been eccentric. My grandma Georgina told me how little Anthony used to ram his tricycle at top toddler speed into a brick wall over and over and over again. "All day long, just riding right into the wall," Grandma Georgina said with a smoker's laugh. My uncle recounted how my father, then a teenager and obsessed with becoming a monk, instructed his brother and sisters to send letters to the Pope recommending one Anthony Christopher Hendra for sainthood. The Pope failed to respond.

My father, like my mother, was tremendously gifted intellectually. To his family's surprise (but no one else's), he easily won a scholarship to Cambridge. Initially, he resisted accepting the place, having already decided on his vocation as a novice in a Benedictine monastery. But at the insistence of the more senior monks, he went off to the university.

It was at Cambridge in about 1962 that my parents met. By this time, my father had put his monastic aspirations in the deep freeze and instead embraced the world of earthly delights. By the end of her senior year, my mother was very pregnant. At twenty-two and dreaming of success as a comedian, my father was understandably reluctant to marry. My mother, more in love with my dad than he was with her, could neither face an abortion nor give the baby up for adoption. So, unsure of what was going to happen, she continued on with her pregnancy. In her Cambridge graduation pictures, though unmarried and visibly with child, my mother wears her gown and rounded stomach with pride. She smiles into the camera defiantly, holding her diploma over . . .

Product Details

ISBN:
9780060820992
Subtitle:
A Memoir
With:
Morrison, Blake
With:
Morrison, Blake
Author:
Hendra, Jessica
Author:
Morrison, Blake
Publisher:
Harper
Subject:
Women
Subject:
Rehabilitation
Subject:
Child sexual abuse
Subject:
Adult child sexual abuse victims
Subject:
Personal Memoirs
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Hardcover
Publication Date:
October 1, 2005
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
288
Dimensions:
9 x 6 x 0.97 in 7.60 oz

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Related Subjects

Biography » General
Health and Self-Help » Abuse » Personal Stories

How to Cook Your Daughter: A Memoir Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$6.50 In Stock
Product details 288 pages ReganBooks - English 9780060820992 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "[Signature] Reviewed by Kathryn Harrison 'How to Cook Your Daughter' is the title of an essay written in 1971 by Tony Hendra for the National Lampoon. Like much of the content of that magazine, which Hendra would eventually edit, 'How to Cook Your Daughter' pushes the envelope of satire. A distasteful joke carried to an offensive extreme, it describes, in lewd detail, the toothsome flesh of a girl between the ages of five and six and how best to prepare her for consumption. Probably Mr. Hendra didn't intend his essay as a confession of incestuous longings — at least not consciously — but in appropriating his title for her account of the abuse she says she suffered at his hands, his daughter Jessica has managed to extract a measure of poetic justice. Jessica Hendra's response to her father's acclaimed confession of sexual transgression, Father Joe: The Man Who Saved My Soul (2004), is a 'my turn memoir' like Leaving a Doll's House by Claire Bloom, who set the record straight on Philip Roth, or What Falls Away by Mia Farrow, published on the heels of the Woody Allen and Soon Yi scandal. These he-said-she-said accounts cannot be read fairly, on their own merits, because they are rebuttals rather than independent works. Further complicating the would-be critic's position, the first to speak is typically not only a man but also the more original artist.So reviewing a book like Jessica Hendra's is a tricky proposition, requiring tact, sensitivity and whatever quality it is that allows one to rush in where angels fear to tread. Blake Morrison (who wrote When Was the Last Time You Saw Your Father?) has ghosted the book, making it better than it might otherwise be, presumably imposing the dependable form of unfolding two stories in tandem, intercutting the past with the present. The narrative shifts smoothly between Jessica's childhood with her self-sacrificing mother, her stoic sister and her charismatic, substance-abusing, philandering, volatile father, and her later life as a wife and mother coping with the aftereffects of having been allegedly molested by that same father. Born in 1965 to parents who did a lot of drugs, swam naked in front of the neighbors and frowned on establishment organizations like the Girl Scouts, Jessica Hendra says she has had to work to evolve into a functional adult. She comes across as earnest and likable, but even the help of a seasoned writer cannot make her memoir transcend its agenda. By now familiar with the territory — the sins of unconventional parents visited on their children — readers will come to Jessica Hendra for only one reason: to discover her side of the bitter conflict that erupted in the wake of her father's publishing an account of spiritual awakening that failed to acknowledge what she considers his greatest sin. Agent, Sterling Lord. (Oct.) Kathryn Harrison's most recent novel, Envy, was published in July by Random House." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "[An] excellent memoir....In gripping, straightforward prose, Jessica depicts her childhood among frenetically drug-fueled and rage-prone comics....A polished and touching piece of work."
"Review" by , "Captivating, witty, and not self-pitying."
"Review" by , "Riveting....[Hendra's] head-on confrontation with her demons is the ultimate story of bravery."
"Review" by , "Sharply written and absorbing."
"Review" by , "The implication...is that Jessica would have gone along with the family secret forever, until her father wrote his pious memoir....After reading How to Cook Your Daughter, you can only feel stinging pity for father and daughter both."
"Review" by , "Though she's not as eloquent or biting as her father, Jessica Hendra's [memoir] reads well, and a passage in which she describes the abuse to her therapist, juxtaposed with her father's skit referred to in the book's title, made this reviewer's skin crawl."
"Synopsis" by , From the daughter of Tony Hendra, bestselling author of "Father Joe" comes the poignant and ultimately hopeful memoir of a young girl's struggle to live a normal childhood in the chaotic '70s and to overcome sexual abuse by her famous father.
"Synopsis" by , Her dad wrote bestseller Father Joe – but left out a few things. This is the poignant and ultimately hopeful memoir of a young girl's struggle to live a normal childhood in the '70s, and to overcome sexual abuse by her famous father.

Jessica Hendra wanted the truth to be told about her father after the publication of his supposedly confessional book, Father Joe (4.5k sold through BookScan). Her story about how he sexually abused her sent ripples of shock through the media.

Readers will see these days through the bewildered eyes of young Jessica and her sister, Kathy, who cowered while the parties went on and on, who couldn't believe that the white powder in the fridge was cocaine and not baking soda, who just wanted a normal life.

As a member of the inner circle of both the Monty Python group, an original editor of the National Lampoon, and the man who launched the careers of John Belushi and Chevy Chase, Tony Hendra was often surrounded by famous faces. Hendra mentions many moments of comedy and humour from her unique childhood. With insight, a sense of humour, and a beautifully earnest, sensitive voice, Hendra tells a story that too many readers can relate to – that of a young woman whose world spins out of control after someone she trusts sexually abuses her. Similar to books like The Little Prisoner

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