When Robert Lescher died in 2012 an unpublished manuscript of M.F.K. Fisher’s was discovered neatly packed in the one of the literary agent’s signature red boxes. Inspired by Fisher’s affair with Dillwyn Parrish — who was to become her second husband — The Theoretical Foot is the master stylist’s first novel. In it she describes the life she all-too-briefly had with the man she’d ever after describe as the one great love of her life.It tells of a late-summer idyll at the Swiss farmhouse of Tim and Sara, where guests have gathered at ease on the terrace next to the burbling fountain in which baby lettuces are being washed, there to enjoy the food and wine served them by this stylish American couple. But all around these seemingly fortunate people, the forces of darkness are gathering: The year is 1939; World War II approaches. And the paradise Tim and Sara have made is being besieged from within as Tim — closely based on Parrish — is about to suffer the first of the circulatory attacks that will cause him to lose his leg to amputation.
The Theoretical Foot
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MARY FRANCES KENNEDY FISHER was the preeminent American food writer. She wrote thirty-three books, including a translation of The Physiology of Taste by Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin. Her first book, Serve It Forth, was published in 1937. Fisher's books are an amalgam of food literature, travel, and memoir.