Thursday, May 2, 2013

Book Club

Food, friends and great books. It's one of my favourite combinations (not necessarily in that order). Luckily I have two wonderful friends who are on the same page (pun intended). My beloved book club gals and I met this past Sunday after more than a year without a meeting. I'm afraid that, as much as we love our meetings, work and family commitments keep us pretty darn busy most of the time. 

That being said, we have to try harder to find the time to meet. We women need time to sit and chat with other women, sharing our ideas, our news, our troubles, our complaints...and maybe talking about the book a bit too.

In this case, because we hadn't met for so long, we actually discussed two books, The Virgin Cure by Ami McKay and The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce. I'll get to the novels in a minute. First, let's talk food.

The gals and I favour the "brunch with tons of food" book club meeting. For this meeting, I made mini banana chocolate chip muffins, while Sarah made a tofu omelette and Connie made vegan scones.

Connie made a gorgeous fruit salad.

I made fried potatoes.

As if the main meal wasn't decadent enough, Sarah made lemon poppyseed cake for dessert. Yum! All of the food was vegan and the desserts were made with spelt flour for less gluten.

Here are my lovely and talented book club gals. They are cracking up because we tried to figure out the best way to pose for flattering portraits. I think they are beautiful inside and out. I chose no picture at all, though, as most flattering for myself. Unfair, I know.

You can read more about the girls and our last two book club meetings here and here.

By the way, Jolene the beagle mix chewed the corner off my copy of The Virgin Cure. She loves to eat hardcover books.

The Virgin Cure by Ami McKay

"I am Moth, a girl from the lowest part of Chrystie Street, born to a slum-house mystic and the man who broke her heart." I think Ami McKay should get points for creating one of the most intriguing sentences that has ever opened a novel. I had to read it a few times in order to grab hold of the information it contains. A girl named Moth? A slum-house mystic? This has got to be good.

The novel is set in the tenements of lower Manhattan in the year 1871. I had no idea New York was such a terrible place for women and children back then. A (poor) woman without a husband had few prospects. When Moth's father walks away from his wife and daughter, he sentences them to a life of misery. Moth's mother doesn't make much of a living with her fortune-telling and Moth is all too aware of how she really pays the rent.

The Virgin Cure is beautifully written. It's also a page-turner, sucking you into Moth's journey as - betrayed by her mother - she sets out on her own into a cruel world. Thieves, pickpockets, beggars, sideshow freaks and prostitutes, Moth encounters them all. And that's where I'll stop, because I can't stand it when I know what's going to happen in a novel. It's best to read it yourself and find out.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce

Harold Fry is recently retired. He lives in a small English village with his wife, Maureen, who seems irritated by everything he does. One morning, Harold receives a letter addressed in a shaky scrawl from a woman he hasn't heard from in twenty years. Queenie Hennessy is dying, and she's writing to say goodbye. Harold pens a quick reply and heads to the corner mailbox. But Harold doesn't stop at the first mailbox, or the next one. Some unknown force spurs Harold on until he ultimately decides to walk the six hundred miles from Kingsbridge to the hospice in Berwick-upon-Tweed. Thus begins Harold's unlikely pilgrimage.

In the early part of the novel, what struck me most was all the imagery of Harold trying to be silent and invisible. He folds his clothes "small as an apology" on a faded blue-velvet chair. His footsteps in his yachting shoes barely make a noise on the carpet. As Harold walks, he encounters a cast of colourful characters. In doing so, he learns something about others, but even more about himself. As the novel progresses, Harold begins to unlock a series of memories, both beautiful and painful, and finally a tragic memory that he hasn't wanted to face.

As Harold reconciles the losses and the regrets, Maureen is undergoing her own transformation back at home. This book is a great read for both men and women, and married couples in particular. You'll want to keep journeying with Harold and Maureen as they uncover feelings once hidden within themselves.

Have you read any great books lately? Do you have a book club?

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  1. hi! such a long and stunning post! I'd loved enjoyng ur meeting!
    2nd book seems to be quite interesting to me, but I don't think I'll find it here in italy!
    but...who knows!
    bye bye! xo!

  2. What a great choice of books, but with all that delicious looking food I am not sure how you managed to discuss the novels at all!

    Kate x
    Kate at Home

  3. I love this post - the beautiful table settings, the food, the lovely friends and interesting books! There is nothing better in life than sharing these pleasures with treasured friends. Thanks for the book reviews. I think I would enjoy them. xx

  4. What a fun idea, and lucky that you have a few like minded friends. Your table looks elegant and delicious!

  5. The food looks yummy as usual and the plates really caught my attention! So elegantly placed!

    The books are intriguing! Will definitely check them out! I always say, too many books, too little time.

    Great post as usual Jo! Love it!!!

    Personal Style Blog

  6. The food and the beautiful tab;e setting looks so lovely and very shabby chic. Love it!!!

    I will check out both books. I love to read and many years ago was part of a book club. I ended up moving out of the area and losing touch with my book club friends.

  7. Oh, I'm green with jealousy! I'd love to come over for one of these book chats- how fun!! All the food looks decadent and now I'm going to have to look up these books :)

  8. Hello Joann! Thank you for the book recommendations. I've always wanted to start a book club where I live. I'd be a member of your book club just for the food. Haha! I came across your blog via the Freedom Friday Blog. I'm so glad I did. I'm following you! Please follow me back. If you enjoy my post, please "Like" or leave a comment. I appreciate the support.

    Thank you,


  9. Oooh!! How fun!! I love book clubs, especially when they come with brunch!

  10. I've never heard of either of those books. Thanks for introducing me. And that food! YUM.