Thursday, May 24, 2018

My mom, the best cook!

Here is a beautifully written memoir, The Best Cook In The World  by Rick Bragg, a man who can't cook very well-at least according to his mother. And that mother, Margaret Bragg, is the central figure in this culinary history from author Bragg, who is known for family stories.  This story begins with his great-grandfather Jimmy Jim teaching Bragg's grandmother Ava to cook when she was a newlywed. Other legendary family cooks make appearances, along with family legends of all kinds. For Bragg, food and stories go hand in hand, and Margaret is not only the chief cook, she is also the chief storyteller. These accounts are more than entertainment; they are a way for people to survive hard times. We should all be so lucky to sit at the elbow of a great cook as they work and pass along family knowledge.

Moving On

Joanna Cantor's novel, Alternative Remedies For Loss, follows 22-year-old New Yorker Olivia Harris as she contends with her close-knit family and decides to make a film to honor her mother, Eleanor, after she dies of cancer. Olivia uses her brother Alec's connections to get an entry-level job at a Manhattan production company. There, she meets and get involved with Michel Zahavi, a client 16 years her senior. While Olivia treats the relationship as a temporary situation to help her cope with her loss, Michel appears to be more attached. Meanwhile, Olivia and her brothers are aghast that their father brings his new girlfriend on a family trip to India a few months after Eleanor's death. After the trip, while sorting through Eleanor's things, Olivia discovers some curious notes signed by "F" that lead her on a journey back to India to find out the truth about who F is.

Thursday, May 3, 2018


Ah, romance. Quite a few serious readers scorn the romance genre as poorly written. But in the novel Frenchman's Creek, Daphne Du Maurier gives us great writing as well as romance. Dona, a noblewoman of the 18th century is feeling confined and weary by the relentless social life she has in London. On a whim she escapes to her family's country house along with her two children. Here, in beautiful countryside she feels peace and contentment. She also meets a Frenchman, a pirate who has been terrorizing the countryside. Both feel an immediate connection. There is love, adventure and a killing...  Du Maurier explores the themes of escape and women's lives when they don't live up to social conventions. The ending is bittersweet, both characters being deeply changed by their encounter. The descriptions of the Cornwall coast are wonderfully evocative. ML