French Lessons: Adventures With Knife, Fork And Corkscrew – Peter Mayle
Another Peter Mayle book, after A Year In Provence and Confessions Of A French Baker: Breadmaking Secrets, Tips And Recipes. And, I loved this one too! French Lessons: Adventures With Knife, Fork And Corkscrew is not just limited to Provence – it is about the whole of France. The book encompasses the author’s travels, adventures and gastronomic exploits throughout the country.
It made for a highly delicious read. Each essay in the book is extremely interesting – there’s one on how to eat cooked snails and one about a restaurant for almost-nudes. I was hooked from Page 1 till the very end, and didn’t want the book to end. The author’s language is simple but witty and evocative, and you feel like the scenes that he is talking about are unfolding right in front of your eyes. I am so glad I picked up this one!
Highly recommended. Grab a copy soon.
The Hat Shop On The Corner – Marita Conlon-Mc Kenna
I was so, so, so looking forward to reading this book – it sounded so cute and charming and all that. I was super excited when I found a Kindle copy that didn’t cost me the earth that I bought it immediately. Sadly, the book disappointed me.
The Hat Shop On The Corner is the story of Ellie, a pretty young woman whose mother has recently passed away, leaving a quaint little hat shop in a busy Ireland street to her. Ellie has a day job, but she doesn’t want to let go of the hat shop either; after all, it was her mother’s life and love. Hat-making is not new to her either; she has grown up helping her mother make hats in the shop and serving customers. The predictable thing happens – she takes over the shop, and begins to make hats. The variety of people Ellie comes into contact with in the course of making hats, and the different types of hats that she makes, constitutes the story.
The storyline is extremely predictable, and I could see how it was going to end, right from the beginning. There is a lot of fluff involved, utter chick-lit in parts, very movie-like and very unlike real life. The language is extremely simplistic.
That said, the book isn’t all bad. I loved the way the author has built up the various characters in the book, using parts of their daily lives. Ellie sounds like a sweet, humane entrepreneur, someone you would like to know personally. She sounds utterly dumb in some parts, and an intelligent, independent woman in others. The Ireland town and street that the book is set in sounds wonderfully charming, as does the hat shop itself. The book made me think a lot about hats, and even made me feel like wearing one, though I am not at all a hat person. The blue and pink and green confections that Ellie makes from different materials got to me, and had me drooling.
Overall, I didn’t find this a must-read, but it is not completely hopeless either. Pick it up if you need some light comfort reading.
What are you reading now?