Thursday, July 23, 2009

Mostly Booky Bliss

My recent forced vacation from creativity gave me an opportunity to get into a couple of books that I've been meaning to read and to re-read one that I hold dear. So here are my reviews of them for your possible reading pleasure.
I can't say enough wonderful things about Frances Mayes book. It's so well written that you feel as though you can smell the food, the flowers and hear the music. Evocative isn't a good enough word. I would like to give this book to everyone I care about and insist they read it while lounging on a chaise with a cool drink and lovely evening breezes washing over them. You can open it to any page and be transported to a place you would love to be. Read this book. I've already read it twice. You will thank me.
Last year I read a book by Ferenc Mate. There should be an accent over the e but I forgot how to do that. Anyway, Mr. Mate and his wife Candace and their little boy bought a vineyard in Tuscany complete with an ancient, fairly ruined, farmhouse. The vineyard is in the area where they grow the luscious grape that makes the best wine in Italy. Rich, deep, intense, Brunello de Montepulciano wine. My very favorite Italian wine. The book is the story of how they searched for and found the place and their adventures in getting the farmhouse restored by craftsmen who work on their own special clock called Italian time. It's such fun. Recently I went back and while looking for something similar I found the book he wrote first. The first book describes their early married life pre-kid and pre-vineyard, while trying to fit in to the small Italian village they come to live in. It is a darling book that I loved so much I couldn't put it down even when my eyes were giving me the most trouble. I have just re-read it as well and love it more the second time around. Your welcome.
Let me get the weird review out of the way. I say weird because I really thought I would adore this book and it left me scratching my head and feeling sort of annoyed by the end. When I heard that David Lebowitz, famous Chocolatier of the culinary world, had written a book on his life in Paris, I thought "what could be bad?". Chocolate and Paris, must be delicious. Here's my take on this. His book came off as a snobbish, anti-American, treatise, the like of which causes many to miss-judge both Paris and it's people. What I learned from this book is that you can't use the bathroom the entire time you are there and if you get fingered for being an American, you will be hated on sight and scorned, laughed at and made fun of for simply existing. Also, never ever ask anyone a question. It was very disappointing and kind of made me cranky. There is not a lot that is "sweet" about this life he writes about. He should stick to making chocolate.
If you have never read any Steinbeck....what the hell have you been doing with your life. I discovered John Steinbeck in one of the darkest periods of my life by reading is delightful book "Travels with Charlie", which chronicles his trips with his dog Charlie. Loved that book and it made me forget how miserable I was at the time. I followed it up with "Cannery Row" and if you haven't read that you need to give yourself a treat. It's funny and sad and beautiful. The best day was when I found my, now-worn, Penguin copy of "East of Eden". If you have only experienced the movie with James Dean, you have no concept of what a wonderful book this is. The movie is only one small part of the book and, in my humble opinion, doesn't do that justice. It is the story of generations of people of varying social status in the Salinas Valley of California. I have read and re-read this book over the years and I never tire of it.
So there you have it. I hope you enjoy them and I'd be interested in how you feel about them.
I had lunch to day with my new favorite person in my world. My son's Mother-in-law to be, Cheryl. We had a nice lunch and some fun conversation. I'm so happy for the chance to get to know her. I can see in Cheryl, why we have come to love Dani. Very sweet people. Looking forward to the party at the end of August where we will be able to meet other family members.
Well, this certainly has turned into a novel. Time to make some dinner for the boys. Hope you have a great day.


Michele's Quilting Journey said...

Absolutely fabulous book reviews! You should be one of those book revue bloggers that I find here and there online. And speaking of book reviews ;) I give one on Freddy and Gwen's newest Collaborative Quilting book tomorrow and give-away a free copy of it that was sent to me by its production company.Please come over for a visit after 7 am Pacific time Friday, leave a comment to enter the drawing (it will be read by Freddy and Gwen) and if you can, add a link from my post and its drawing on your own blog. It will help me look good and provide the give-away with more entrants ;)

Rian said...

Great reviews! I have not read Steinbeck, can you imagine?

Libby said...

Great reviews - thanks for the tips. I'll be getting a new library card soon . . . . now I'll arrive with an excellent list of choices for my first check-out *s*

Juliann said...

I am so glad to read this post - I have wondered about that David Lebowitz book and now I think I will skip it. I did just read a good food book, A Homemade life. Anyway, just stumbled onto your blog and have had a fun time looking around.

Terrie Sandelin said...

A bit late to be leaving a comment, I know. But I was just over on Terry's Miniature Quilt blog and saw your comment and browsing being what it is, I hopped over here. It's been a pleasure reading your blog but I had to respond to this: just one lover of John Steinbeck to another. Yes, Travels with Charley. And, yes, Cannery Row. And Easy of Eden is one of my all time favorite novels! I love this book. (Though I also love the movie, even if I agree the book is much better). Did you know Steinbeck kept a journal while he was writing East of Eden? It's been published (Journal of a Novel) and is a wonderful window into both Steinbeck as a writer and as a man. Anyway, greetings!