Book Review: A Pig in Provence

When I’ve had a ho-hum day, a non-stop day, or a “Please just let it be over day!” there’s nothing that helps me escape and unwind faster than a good book.  Curled up on the couch in the living room in front of the fire, while soaking in a hot bubble bath or just a few minutes in bed before turning out the lights, books let me step out of my life, my worries and my to-do list and fall into the life of someone else (real or imagined). 

A favorite (and a steal at only $5.20 on Amazon) is  A Pig in Provence: Good Food and Simple Pleasures in the South of France, a memoir by Georgeanne Brennan.  

Georgeanne Brennan won the James Beard Award and the IACP/Julia Child Cookbook Award for her writing and is the author of numerous cooking and gardening books such as “The Food and Flavors of Haute Provence,” “The Family Table” and “Savoring France.”

“A Pig in Provence” recounts her initial move to Provence to keep goats and try to make a living from making fresh goat cheese and moves though subsequent summers spent in Provence.  Each chapter is a chapter from her life tied to the food that defines that experience: goat cheese, mushrooms found through wild mushroom foraging, pork and her family’s first pig purchase, bouillabaisse, garlic, lamb, and tarts. 

The narrative is consuming, making you feel like you’re right there in Provence whether it be on a hot summer night celebrating Bastille Day or a cold morning performing the ritual butcher of a pig.   At the end of each chapter is a recipe highlighting the flavor that has become the star of that chapter.  “Goat Cheese Salad with Fried Bread” and “Juniper-rubbed Chicken Stuffed with Wild Mushrooms” sound especially enticing.  

If you love food, France, a good read, or any of the above, buy, beg, or borrow a copy of “A Pig in Provence,” and escape to the south of France.

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“Jane Austen Ruined My Life”

Jane Austen Ruined My Life

Jane Austen Ruined My Life

How can anyone resist a title like that?  As a former English Major and Jane Austen devotee, when I spied this title in the bookstore I couldn’t pass it up.

In Jane Austen Ruined My Life, Beth Patillo tells the story of Emma, a Jane Austen scholar who believed in Jane Austen’s happy endings until she found her Mr. Knightly in a compromising position with her teaching assistant on her kitchen table. To add insult to injury, the teaching assistant backed by her paramour, a revered Professor and Milton scholar, accuses Emma of plagiarism. Losing her husband and her job, Emma heads off to London, and Hampstead in particular, to try to revive her academic career by finding the long thought destroyed letters of Jane Austen and exposing her as a fraud.

Upon arrival at her cousin’s townhouse in Hampstead, however, she finds that the only other occupant is her former best friend, who just so happens to be male and attractive, whom she hasn’t spoken to since she married her faux Mr. Knightly. The plot thickens.

Jane Austen Ruined My Life, has elements of romance – without being predictable – and mystery as Emma chases the missing letters of Jane Austen.  But at bottom it is the tale of a woman putting her life back together and carving out a new life on her own and on her terms.

Emma takes us on a fast, enjoyable ride and shows you how one woman learns to stop compromising for a “fairytale ending” and to follow her essential self’s desires.

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Book Review: Angelology

Angelology

Angelology

After reading a favorable review in the Seattle Times, I decided to check out Angelology by Danielle Trussoni.

Angelology is a story about an underground war between the Nephilim – half-human, half-angel creatures that are the result of a group of angels called the “Watchers” having mated with human women – and the Angelologists – humans who study the Watchers and Nephilim and seek to eradicate their hold over humans. The Nephilim are beautiful but without human emotion. They live for pleasure and to increase their vast financial and political power. They are in short the financiers of every World War and skirmish in history. Humans are unknowingly subservient to the Nephilim, except for those Angelologists who strive to fight them. And the Angelologists are making gains because there is a sickness running through the Nephilim community. Both sides must rush to capture and keep safe the treasure that could cure or destroy the Nephilim.

The novelty of the subject matter is engaging in itself but the story is compelling because of the relationships between the heroine, Evangeline and her grandmother, Gabriella – a famed angelologist – and Evangeline and Verlaine, an art historian unknowingly working for the Nephilim. While not a genre I normally read – and I’m not even sure what genre it falls into, fantasy maybe? – this book has it all, action, intrigue, a story that spans centuries, and a hint of romance. There’s even a twist at the end that may cause you to reevaluate the entire story.

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