This is not a chef's tale in the fashion we've come to expect from foodie books in recent years. It's more of an autobiography that happens to include a lot of cooking and eating. Put even more precisely, it's an exercise in self-analysis through writing, in which the reader is allowed to tag along. The book's subtitle is a perfect seven-word description of Gabrielle "Prune" Hamilton's road to chefdom. Her training in the food service industry was as inadvertent as any career path could possibly be. She never had a plan. The simple need to survive took her from teenage criminal with a strong work ethic to minor celebrity with a thriving New York City restaurant. The dissolution of her family led Gabby to take her first job in the food industry at the age of 13. For the next 20 years, she washed dishes, waited tables, freelanced in the catering world, and even served as a cook for a children's summer camp. She was at loose ends in her life when she was offered a chance at a tiny abandoned restaurant space, and all of her years of experience came together in the successful creation of Prune.Hamilton knows how to spin a narrative, particularly when she has a juicy anecdote that lends itself to embellishment and hyperbole. And yet, for all her ability to tell a story, there's an obfuscatory quality to her writing that smacks of coyness, whether intentional or not. She throws out a lot of references she doesn't explain, and jumps around in the chronology much as one might do in a private journal of self-discovery rather than a book meant for public consumption. In the last 100 or so pages, the book slowly devolves into a near-microscopic examination of her marriage to Michele, an "Italian Italian." This was where the book fell apart for me. She seemed to have abandoned her original intentions for the book, and she ends it without resolution or indication of where her life now stands. Those who have read the book will forgive me for saying I was left feeling like her entire life was just one big "bone"-doggle. Her success as a restaurateur excluded, her years were spent letting life live her rather than living her life.I really enjoyed doing this as a buddy read with my friend Judy, even if she did leave me in the dust. Her questions and comments made me read more carefully, and we had some good laughs along the way.