Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Remnants, Part 2

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.


avisannschild said...

Singled Out sounds like a fascinating book. Thanks for bringing it (and Danielle's reviews) to my attention.

bermudaonion said...

You've really got me wanting to read one of Louise Penny's books.

Fyrefly said...

No, I cook pasta for myself all the time. Although that also falls into the "big batch of stuff for many days" category, too.

Have you read Alone in the Kitchen With An Eggplant? It's a collection of essays, so it's less practical than What We Eat When We Eat Alone, but it was a lot more fun to read.

Nan said...

In my almost 39 years of being a vegetarian, I cannot count the number of times a woman has told me she wouldn't eat meat if it weren't for her husband. And you know what - I would rather eat alone with a book or magazine. Really. And it just so happens tonight that when I leave this comment, I'm heading into the kitchen to eat spaghetti with basil pesto, lettuce, cake, and milk all by myself. :<)

Anonymous said...

Singled Out sounds fantastic! Plus I can use it for the Women Unbound Challenge - hooray!

Anonymous said...

I want to read the What We Eat book. I think it sounds fascinating. Judith Jones just published a book about cooking for one that's pretty darn good too.

Tara said...

avisannschild, it really was, and you are welcome!

Kathy, you should!

Fyrefly, thank you! I haven't read the Eggplant book but I do own it and plan to read it at some point, glad to know you liked it!

Nan, isn't that funny? And I like to read with a book too, AND your dinner sounds fab.

Jennysbooks, it was, and what a great idea! It will be perfect.

Amy, it was fascinating, if you're interested in that sort of thing and I am! I'd like to take a closer look at the Judith Jones book, I've only peeked at it.

Anonymous said...

I was just going to recommend Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant when I saw Fyrefly's comment. I couldn't agree more--it's a MUST read!

I've been wanting to start the Penny series. It's encouraging to see how much you enjoy them.

Cath said...

Just reading my 4th. Louise Penny and it's just as good as the previous three. One of my favourite crime series.

I very much like the sound of Singled Out. It's something we've always been aware of in the UK but I've never seen a book about it. Must see if the library has it as I bet it's fascinating.

Tara said...

overflowingbookshelf, Wow, 2 recomendations for the Eggplant book - it must be good! The Penny series is great - give it a try!

Cath, it is one of my favorites, too! I bet your library will have Singled Out, it is a UK publication.

evifsight said...

I love the idea of this book and I think I might have to get it for my mother. You said to email you if we have any questions, but I can not find your email address on the webpage. Can you please provide it? Thanks so much!

Les said...

I've added Deborah Madison's book to my TBR list! It sounds like a great read for this lover of food & cooking. I don't mind eating alone, and like Nan, enjoy reading my current book or magazine or newspaper as I savor the meal I've prepared. As you know, I love to cook and I don't mind cooking for myself one bit. And, often times, I'll make some sort of pasta such as Chicken Parmesan or something with garlicky shrimp and angel hair. Throw in a chunk of bread and a glass of red wine and I'm a happy camper!

Tara said...

evifsight, sorry not sure where my email went, but it is booksandcooks06ATaolDOTcom. Glad the book appeals to you!

Les, I think you will like this one! Your private meals sound so delish! YUM!