The reading of Louise Penny's second book in the Inspector Gamache series was to be a treat to myself while I would be at my in-laws over Christmas. The snow arrived and I stayed in Minnesota (yeah!) but I decided to go ahead with A Fatal Grace (Three Pines Mysteries, No. 2). What perfect timing! In three pines it was Christmastime - Check, snowing a lot - check, and absolutely freezing - check! As always, the villagers are out in force here as is the delicious sounding food and of course there is murder. I had a suspicion about the perpetrator here early on, whom I dismissed, and then later turned out to be The One. A divine and cozy read all around and I had to hold myself back from reading the next.
What We Eat When We Eat Alone: Stories and 100 Recipesis one of those books you come across unexpectedly and then pay *gulp* full price for. This is one gorgeous hardcover by Deborah Madison and her artist husband Patrick McFarlin. This book is exactly as advertised; the authors have asked friends, acquaintances and everyone else what they eat by themselves. From those who live alone, to those who are rarely alone, the answers were, to me, fascinating.
A few things that interested/surprised me were:
*Men are much more likely to prepare meat, such as a steak, for themselves than women.
*Women are much more likely to prepare a big pot of something, such as soup, and eat it over the course of many days.
*Not many people are cooking pasta for themselves. WHAT???? I am always cooking pasta for myself. Am I all alone?
If you like cooking, eating,or have that sociological curiosity like I do about what people are eating, pick this one up. There are recipes, too!
Finally, Singled Out: How Two Million British Women Survived Without Men After the First World Waris a book that was pretty great but because I read half of it last August and the rest in the Fall I can't say much that's coherent about it. In Britain these women were known as surplus women and there were one and three-quarter million of them. Singled Out is history, told by the people who lived it. Author Virginia Nicholson brings these women to life through a vast number of personal stories exploring lack of a mate and childlessness, to careers and retirement, and even that most delicate subject...pleasure. One subject of particular interest to me, was that of the many women authors in this position and how that translated into their writing; many Virago Modern Classic titles are mentioned. If you're interested in a more concise review Danielle has written about Singled Out here, here and here. If you're an Anglophile like me, if you love women's history, or books about WW1, you'll love this. Seriously.
So that's it! I can happily shut the door on 2009 and begin writing about the books of 2010. So far, there have been some good ones.