Posts Tagged ‘Food’

Delicious!

Ruth Reichl
deliciousDear Mr Beard,
I sent my Magic Moments off yesterday, and that made me think of you.
I hope the cookies will remind Father of our life here. Or maybe I should say what life used to be, before the war changed everything . . .
Hidden in the library of Delicious! magazine young intern Billie discovers the wartime letters of twelve-year-old Lulu Swan, written to distinguished food writer, James Beard. Lulu’s can-do spirit in the face of food shortages and other hardships help Billie come to terms with her own tragic past. Until one day it occurs to her: Lulu Swan might still be alive…

What were your initial thoughts of the book?
I saw Delicious out of the blue and got completely drawn to the cover. After scouring the synopsis, I knew that this was a book I’d be interested in reading. Thus I decided to give the book a go which I’m glad I did as this book was truly lovely and was such an entertaining read. I was drawn in from the very start and found it very hard to put the book down again. It is a book that has a truly remarkable story at its centre, one that will capture your heart and make you feel warm inside. It is one of the best food-centric books I’ve read.

What was your favourite aspect of the book?
The journey that our main protagonist, Billie, goes on. (I know, you were expecting me to say the food, weren’t you?) I loved her narration and how much she changes throughout the story. I found the writing style was easy to follow and I just got sucked in and really needed to know where Billie’s life would take her next. I really enjoyed how this all came together and how she grew into such a confident, outgoing, and resilient character by the end of it all. This was definitely a character-driven plot!

Who was your favourite character and why?
I’m sure this will come as no surprise to you but my favourite character was Billie. As much as I loved all of the other side characters and all of their own journeys, there was just something about Billie that I completely loved. She was a remarkable character who was well-written and someone who was really relatable. Essentially, this story was a coming-of-age story in which Billie finds her true self and learns to enjoy it all which just made for an entertaining read that was thoroughly enjoyable.

Would you recommend this book?
In a heartbeat. It is the kind of book that will whisk you away to another place and time easily. It is full of language that will warm your insides and mentions of food that will have you salivating. It has a story that is full of heart and warmth and is one of those books that will make you feel really good and blessed by the end of it. So if you like books like that, then you should definitely read this book. I would say it is perfect for fans of Cecelia Ahern and Jodi Picoult!

Summarize this book in one sentence (verdict): A wonderfully warm story about hope, love, food, and finding yourself.

Reviewed by Faye

Publisher: Ebury Press
Publication Date: September2014
Format: Paperback
Pages: 384
Genre: Historical, Fiction, Food
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Faye
Source: Borrowed
Challenge: None
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Peaches for Monsieur le Cure

Joanne Harris

peaches A welcome return to the village in rural France that was the setting for Joanne Harris’s remarkable and much-loved number one bestseller Chocolat.
It isn’t often you receive a letter from the dead.
When Vianne Rocher receives a letter from beyond the grave, she has no choice but to follow the wind that blows her back to Lansquenet, the village in south-west France where, eight years ago, she opened up a chocolate shop. But Vianne is completely unprepared for what she finds there. Women veiled in black, the scent of spices and peppermint tea, and there, on the bank of the river Tannes, facing the square little tower of the church of Saint-Jerôme like a piece on a chessboard — slender, bone-white and crowned with a silver crescent moon -a minaret.
Nor is it only the incomers from North Africa that have brought big changes to the community. Father Reynaud, Vianne’s erstwhile adversary, is now disgraced and under threat. Could it be that Vianne is the only one who can save him?

I have enjoyed quite a few of Joanne Harris’ books and jumped at the chance of getting my hands on this. I love revisiting old characters and finding out where their various journeys are taking them and this novel is perfect for that. I enjoyed Chocolate very much and Vianne’s next story The Lollipop Shoes. This story continues on Vianne’s tale for years later when she is drawn back to Lansquenet by a letter from her old friend Armande. Armande has died and her grandson passes the letter on. Vianne is a little shaken by this blast from the past, particularly as it encourages her to return to Lansquenet and follow the wind again. But Vianne never likes to revisit the places she lived in and Lansquenet holds more than memories for her as it was the nearest place she ever had to a home. Armande calls on her to return as she realises trouble is coming to Lansquenet and evidently feels that Vianne is the one to sort it out. Vianne is not nearly so sure but can’t refuse her old friend so she, Anouk and Rosette travel back to face both the uncertainties of the past and the future in the village they last saw eight years ago.

Lansquenet, as you would expect, is both changed and the same. This is one of the things Vianne fears as she returns, the changes from her memories. The village and its population have moved on. Time has caused the young to grow up and the adults to develop and yet in far more ways they are still the same people. The village still has friendly faces and gossips, pointing fingers and suspicion alongside unchanged traditions. However there is a new Arab community at Les Marauds, complete with mosque and calls to prayer, ladies in niqabs and strict rules. But there is unrest within this new community which has grown to become separate from its Catholic, white neighbours. This time it is not Vianne who is the outsider in the village.

In Lansquenet Monsieur Francis Reynard has been ousted from his church by suspicion that he has been trying to harm the Muslim community and by a new, up and coming priest who brings a guitar and power point to the church. Vianne’s arrival shakes Monsieur Reynard and yet this time he feels maybe she is the one to help him.

I was drawn in by this revisiting of characters and the way that they have developed. They are still true the original and returning to the setting of Chocolat is exciting. The issues it raises for Vianne are easy to identify with, even though she has led such a different kind of life than most of us will never have. Vianne continues to be wise, using her special brand of magic and mystery to help and understand others. She treads fine lines, befriending some in the new community as well as catching up with old friends. There are demons of her own for Vianne to face, but I am not going to put in a spoiler here!

Written from the perspective of both Vianne and Francis we get to see the world from to totally different points of few that serves to keep us, the reader, at the heart of the story. Always knowing what both parties are thinking is fascinating. From Francis thoughts we see his good intentions and motivations, and through Vianne we see why his efforts produce so little fruit! The development of the relationship between Vianne and Francis was particularly well written, after all the water under the bridge between them, neither of them could have found this easy.

The novel explores many contemporary issues, racism, prejudice, intolerance and religious misunderstandings. Yet at its heart it is about people trying to get by in this world with their insecurities, differences and similarities. As always Joanne writes beautifully with descriptive prose that makes you not just merely imagine it but see, smell and taste it all as well. Her evocative style sweeps you in, the subject matter provokes thought and the characters jump off the page.

Verdict: If you haven’t tried Joanne Harris before you really should begin.

Reviewed by Helen

Publisher: Black Swan
Publication Date: March 2013
Format: Paperback
Pages: 544
Genre: Magic, Fantasy, Religion, Food
Age: Adult
Reviewer: Helen
Source: Provided by publisher
Challenge: British book
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