When Nancy Spiller discovered her late mother's teaching credential buried in the midst of a long abandoned recipe box, she felt compelled to investigate the lingering mysteries of this troubled woman. Marguerite Lenore Soult had taught for only one year before marrying, having four children and a life surrendered to mental illness, divorce and social withdrawal. Spiller realized that she had probably been her mother's best and only student in the kitchen they had shared. Compromise Cake explores Spiller's life in the suburbs of Northern California in the 1960s, learning to cook by her challenging mother's side, as remembered through the recipe box's mid-century and heirloom offerings. It touches on lineage, and industrial changes; it is a meditation on men, women, marriage, community and the nature of compromise. What emerges is a portrait of a woman whose own desires for a career were tragically stifled by the conventional pressures to be a wife and mother, but found expression through her daughter, an author, artist and teacher. This is a memoir that weds Spiller's story to the universal of all mothers and daughters, and what, as they say, is baked into the cake.