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Summary

‘All men should strive to learn before they die what they are running from, and to, and why’. Rick Stein's childhood in 1950s rural Oxfordshire and North Cornwall was idyllic. His parents were charming and gregarious, their five children much-loved and given freedom typical of the time. As he grew older, the holidays were filled with loud and lively parties in his parents' Cornish barn. But ever-present was the unpredicatible mood of his bipolar father, with Rick frequently the focus of his anger and sadness.

When Rick was 18 his father killed himself. Emotionally adrift, Rick left for Australia, carrying a suitcase stamped with his father's initials. Manual labour in the outback followed by adventures in America and Mexico toughened up the naive public schoolboy, but at heart he was still lost and unsure what to do with his life. Eventually, Cornwall called him home.

From the entrepreneurial days of his mobile disco, the Purple Tiger, to his first, unlikely unlikely nightclub where much of the time was spent breaking up drink-fuelled fights, Rick charts his personal journey in a way that is both wry and perceptive; engaging and witty. Narrated by Rick Stein himself.

©2013 Rick Stein (P)2013 Random House Audiobooks

What listeners say about Under a Mackerel Sky

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Pleased Rick Stein is a chef and not a writer!

What would have made Under a Mackerel Sky better?

Like most people who bought this book, I quite like Rick Stein. However being a successful chef and a competent author are rarely achievable and I regret Rick Stein is no writer and his narration is mind-blowingly boring and monotone!Like a football match this is a book of 2 halves. The 1st half before Rick Stein starts opening restaurants is a good read and enjoyable. The 2nd half however when Rick Stein starts his restaurants is, I regret pretentious twaddle. How anybody believes that listing names of wines and foods is interesting to the reader I have no idea. Furthermore I note the early in the biography Rick Stein states he wanted to be a journalist. Luckily nothing ever materialised and I'm pleased he did not succeed as the writing here is very poor. I could not see him even succeeding at a local newspaper.One thing that really annoys me about books nowadays is when the author takes quotes from other books. I never find that interesting and often I wonder why they do it unless it for ego.It's like look at me I'm well educated! It adds nothing to the book in this case.Talking about ego, Rick Stein repeats several times that people and journalists now refer to Padstow as Padstein. I read and have read quite a lot of newspapers and have been to Padstow on a number of occasions but I've never heard of this and wonder again if this is ego massaging.The last few chapters deal with the breakup of his marriage and the way it is written Rick Stein seems rather proud that he dropped Jill, his wife of 20 odd years who had stood by him through thick and thin and married Sass whom he met on a restaurant reviewing panel whilst in Australia. Rick Stein tries to make you sympathise with his position but to be honest, even from his the death of his father, I feel absolutely nothing.I put this down to poor writing.Funnily enough the stories I did enjoy in the book I'd heard before or seen on TV i.e. the situation where Keith Floyd calls him Nick and the mandolin cutting episode and in my opinion they are the funniest parts.Just to conclude, I still like Rick Stein I find him interesting though I do get irritated with the way he throws down his knife and fork on his plate after eating a meal. Also he always has a downer on what we British eat or decide not to eat. However he is entertaining but regretfully this book does nothing to promote him.One final point, I note that reviews which only give one or 2 stars are usually neg'ed by fans and as such I can't see many fans of Rick Stein getting this far in the review and I expect to receive the abuse of many Rick Stein lovers. I've tried to write when I believe to be a true reflection of my view of the book.

Has Under a Mackerel Sky put you off other books in this genre?

Yes

Would you be willing to try another one of Rick Stein’s performances?

No, his narration is awful.

You didn’t love this book--but did it have any redeeming qualities?

No

Any additional comments?

Please see long review.

10 people found this helpful

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boring

I struggled but persevered to finish it. I am a fan of Rick but found the book hard going.

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a perfect listen to grasp the life of Rick.

I wish there were more. He really is a true inspiration. I love the way he writes. it's like music to the ears. comforting and peaceful with excitement just at the right times. more please Rick!!! some more on his culinary and poetic journeys. beautiful 😍🤗

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Warts and all.

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes I have no problem recommending this book, It's well written very interesting and Rick is not afraid of highlighting some of his own personal, as he sees them "weaknesses".
However surprisingly Rick is not a great narrator considering how good he is in front of the TV cameras, but don't let that put you off he get's better as the book progresses.

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Enjoyable in parts especially his childhood

I enjoyed this for the most part especially his childhood and his later enthusiasm for food. At times though he reeled off reams of names of people he knows and that was a bit tedious.

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A delightful honest insight

A completely different perspective of a household name that we all know as a jolly, interesting and intelligent traveller and cook on our tv screen. Astonishingly well read, genuine and crammed with reference to food, art, music, culture and life. How to live life! Thank you Rick Stein for a genuine and pleasurable listen!

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Ricky Stein

Great book if you are a Rick Stein fan I was quite taken aback by his frankness. He sounded like he has lived his own life.

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If you like Rick

This book was fun and interesting to digest, if you are a Rick fan, strangely i really enjoy listening to him on the TV right from his first appearance with Floyd but i found some of the reading laboured which did come as a surprise that said i persevered and enjoyed all the little details immensely empathising on many an occasion.
Entertaining story telling with much to talk about

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Excellent!

I found his life story very interesting, moving and made my mouth water when he talked about.

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interesting and eye opening

An interesting listen. Rick is very candid in his book and I learnt a lot about the man, the narration by the author is also good

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  • Anonymous User
  • 20-08-18

Beyond Great

Rick’s soothing voice, total frankness makes me crave Padstow and do love the book.

He’s about the most genuine author I’ve read from.

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  • Kelly
  • 07-07-14

His life in his voice - what a treat!

Would you consider the audio edition of Under a Mackerel Sky to be better than the print version?

Yes - I always enjoy his soothing voice

Who was your favorite character and why?

Rick - he is honest about his own shortcomings and misdeeds

Have you listened to any of Rick Stein’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I have the Food heroes of Britain and Seafood Odyssey on DVD, but listening to his life story on audio, as I drove to work was a special treat.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Laughed at some bits, was made very hungry at some of the scrumptious descriptions of food! I was also taken aback at some things, like his father's death, and other unexpected events that were quite shocking!

Any additional comments?

Fascinating man and fascinating life.

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  • Cat
  • 07-07-14

Honest, but tedious and unreflective

Would you ever listen to anything by Rick Stein again?

No

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

No

Any additional comments?

I found him very honest especially in his discussion of his family and his relationship with his father and also his sexuality. But he displays so little maturity or self awareness, especially in relation to his relationships with women, and the events which comprised his travels. I would have preferred not to have heard this unflattering autobiography.