The Umbrian Thursday Night Supper Club by Marlena de Blasi
Genre: Non-fiction, women’s literature, foodie non-fiction, memoir, foodie memoir
I loved, loved, loved the three books by this author that I have read earlier – A Thousand Days In Venice, A Thousand Days In Tuscany, and The Lady In The Palazzo. Each of these three books made me travel to a different country, meet some amazing people, and think a whole lot. I don’t know what stopped me from picking up another book by the author – a sequel of sorts to these three books, The Umbrian Thursday Night Supper Club – till very recently. I am glad I did, though.
The Umbrian Thursday Night Supper Club is the real-life story of a few women the author dines with every Thursday, while she’s living in Umbria with her husband Fernando. The title sounds a tad cheesy, yes, but the book is far from it. Here, the author tells the personal stories of these women she is used to dining with – all gorgeous ladies in their 40s and 50s and 80s who have lived a full life. Each one of them have had ups and downs in their lives, glorious moments and tragic ones, great loves and great losses. These women are bound together by their love of good, hearty, but simple food and, of course, their friendship, their love for each other.
I don’t know if these are real stories of real women, but I did have a lovely experience reading this book. The stories touched my heart and soul. They stirred up a variety of emotions inside me. The descriptions of food in the book made me want to rustle up something simple and hearty myself in my kitchen, not wasting a single scrap, foraging for truffles and wild artichokes and the other treasures that nature bestows on us.
I would say I liked this book a wee bit less than the other three books I have read by this author – all three personal memoirs while this one is a non-fiction about people she has met. That said, I would definitely urge you to read this book. I am sure you won’t regret the reading of it. Do read her other three books first, though – I think you’d understand the author, the setting, and the people around her much, much better that way.
The Lace Makers Of Glenmara by Heather Barbieri
Genre: Fiction, chick-lit
Kate is broken from within, thanks to her mother’s passing away, her designer collection turning out to be a huge failure (she’s a fashion designer), and her boyfriend leaving her, all of these events happening in quick succession. She takes off on a trek, attempting to find herself, and finds herself heading towards Ireland, the land of her ancestors. One fine day, she finds herself in the gorgeously picturesque Irish village of Glenmara, in the midst of a village fair. Kate bumps into two women trying to sell crocheted lace, a Glenmara specialty, and the craft beckons to her, having the soul of a seamstress, as she does. The lack of availability of transportation out of the village for about a week forces her to stay put, and she takes up residence, as a lodger, at Bernie, one of the resident’s, place. Slowly and gradually, Kate learns more about the ancient craft of lace-making and about the eccentric villagers of Glenmara. What happens next? You’ll have to read The Lace Makers Of Glenmara to find out!
I have mixed feelings about the book. I loved the way the author has developed each character – delving deep into his/her mind to show the reader exactly what stuff he/she is made up of. I loved the setting of the book – Glenmara – and it made me crave to pack up my bags immediately and head to a similar, beautiful little close-knit village. The conversations about lace-making fascinated me. I loved some parts of the books – they have been so very well-crafted, they were simply brilliant and touched chords deep within me. Some other parts of the book, though, were extremely predictable and stereotypical.
That said, The Lace Makers Of Glenmara was definitely an above-average read for me. I would recommend it to you, if only for those brilliant moments that I so loved.
The Lost Recipe For Happiness by Barbara O’Neal
Genre: Chick-lit, Fiction
This was my first time reading this author – I picked up this book because it sounded interesting, it seemed to have a lot of food in it, and I had heard a lot of good things about the author. Sadly, the book disappointed me – a whole lot.
The Lost Recipe For Happiness is the story of Elena Alvarez, extremely talented cook and lone survivor of a car accident years ago, when she was a teenager, rendering her alone in the whole wide world. Brought up by her grandmother, who teaches her to cook, Elena has grown into a wonderful cook herself. The accident has left her scarred for life, though, in more ways than one. She is in her late 30s, no longer young, and is just beginning to feel her life lacks a whole lot of things when she is fired from the restaurant she works in. Soon enough, Julian Liswood, famed Hollywood director and rich, sexy owner of several gorgeous restaurants, gets in touch with her. What happens after this makes up The Lost Recipe For Happiness. In between incidents from Elena’s present life, through flashbacks, we are told the story of her past.
I kept waiting for the story to ‘happen’, and kept on waiting till the very end of the book. The storyline felt very flimsy, not really a story at all. I didn’t feel any kind of connect with the characters at all. In fact, I couldn’t understand – or root for – Elena till the very end. None of the other characters are really likeable. I had this feeling of not getting to know any of the characters personally, by the time I was done with the book. The writing too seemed forced, unnatural.
That said, I would still like to read other books by the author. I have a feeling this wasn’t the best of her writing – I have had a glimpse of her How To Bake A Perfect Life, and it didn’t seem bad. Any ideas?
Have you read any of these books? What are your thoughts about them?
What are you reading at the moment?