Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Ahhhh. They butterfly party went well, overall and I think everyone had a good time. I am saying, though, that this was my last big birthday party at home. It was a little crazy and my daughter tends to have her bossy hat on at our home which made for some tense moments for me.

Now I can get back to blogging about books. I have managed to finish two, the first was The Island by Victoria Hislop. In the first part of The Island, a young woman, Alexis, travels to Crete with her boyfriend and intends - with her mother's blessing - to learn about her family's history. This introduction is just a vehicle the author uses to tell the main portion of the story which is that of a family living in a small Cretan village around the time of WW2 across the water from Spinalonga, a leper colony.

This book is primarily a family saga which is a genre I always enjoy. I appreciated learning more about leprosy and leper colonies, what life was like for the lepers, and about how treatment became available. It was interesting to search online after reading this book and see photographs (as above) of the island of Spinalonga. I wasn't crazy about the beginning and ending of the book , that is to say, the parts about present-day Alexis and her boyfriend troubles. But, overall, I enjoyed this book and found it to be entertaining. It wasn't a particularly taxing read which is just what I needed at the time.

The second book I finished is The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street by Helene Hanff. This book is the journal Hanff writes during her visit to London which was a lifelong dream. I was surprised to notice that when I read the first page of this book Hanff leaves New York for London on the exact day I was born - year and all. It was certainly fun to see that in print. For everyone who remarked how much they enjoyed 84, Charing Cross Road - well I just know you'd love this book. It's just a delight - charming, lovely, funny and warm. Hanff is treated like a princess in London - hence the title. I don't like to give too much away so that you can enjoy it yourself.

We are preparing to celebrate Thanksgiving in a few days. We're having dinner with friends since we have to stay in town - I have to work all weekend. I'll be preparing cranberry-orange sauce, a sweet potato dish with a praline topping (it could really be called dessert), and a green bean dish with mushrooms and shallots. I'll also bring bread, a relish tray, and cocktails - passion fruit bellinis. What will you be making for the holiday, if you celebrate it?

I suspect I won't be back until after Thanksgiving...so until then, enjoy the holiday.


Lisa said...

Congratulations on the successful party. I remember all too well how much work and stress that can be! Your description of what you're making for Thanksgiving has made me quite hungry. It sounds like you'll have a nice feast. I'll be going to mom's for dinner, but I'll bring along a sweet potato casserole and oyster dressing. Have a happy Thanksgiving!

Cornflower said...

Happy Thanksgiving, Tara, and here's a big thankyou to you for all the wonderful book recommendations and reviews you've given (not to mention the wonderful food) to all who visit your site!

Nan said...

I burst out laughing when I read "bossy hat"
She just turned six, right? This was a tough age as I recall. I think we had parties till the teen years, but they were more the kind with a few friends for a sleepover, or going out for swimming and pizza. But those parties when they were little were so exhausting. Have you read the Berenstain Bears book when Sister Bear cries on her birthday? Perfect.

Nan said...

Oh, I'm bringing your shallot mashed potatoes!! And the Susan Branch cranberry/apple crisp.

Danielle said...

Happy Thanksgiving, too! It sounds like you are making some yummy things. I will probably bring a desert to my sister's house, but she does most of the cooking (cooking isn't my thing generally--LOL). And I've loved Helene Hanff's works--I really do need to reread them!

Cath said...

I was lucky with The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street as it was in the second half of the edition of Apple of my Eye that I had. So I got two books in one and loved both!

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the review of The Island. I have that one tucked away for some rainy day or whatnot.

Yes, I do remember the "bossy hat" days. Wait, I think we are still in them and she is 25. LOL Not really, but we had some fun birthday parties. Some seriously dressed up tea parties and a '50s style one as well.

Happy Thanksgiving to all. My hubby and I are going to just have a quiet day for the two of us. We've been invited everywhere, but this as been a hard year and we are looking forward to just having some down time.

Carrie K said...

Glad the Butterfly party went well! Daughters are supposed to drive their mothers nuts (as a daughterless daughter, I say that. ;)

I'm way behind on you! I thought I'd caught up. I still haven't read Case Histories. Picked it up at the library once but never got around to it. One of these days. (yes, I know, wrong post, but the Crete book just sounds interesting for the historical info.)

Tara said...

Hi Lisa, Thank you. I don't think I've ever had oyster dressing - it sounds good!

Karen, what a kind thing to say - thank you very much, and you are most welcome.

Nan, yes, she'll be six on Sunday. I would be up for a smaller party as you described - just not 10 screaming 5-6 year olds again. I don't think I've read that book but it sounds perfect - we did have a meltdown when my husband tried to give her pink cupcake to her friend. Your contributions to Thanksgiving sound delicious!

Danielle, thank you! I'm going to read Hanff's book Apple of My Eye next. I can't believe it took me so long to discover her books - another of the many fruits of blogging, I guess.

Cath, thanks so much. I picked up Apple of My Eye today - I love the vintage photos of New York.

Kay, I think The Island is a perfect rainy day book. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving - it sounds as though you have a relaxing day planned.

Carrie, well, I certainly drove my mother nuts! I agree, the best part of The Island was the historical piece. If it weren't for that I wouldn't have liked it as much, I think.

Iliana said...

I'm putting both of these books on my TBR list - they sound like my kind of reads!
Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving Tara!

Gentle Reader said...

I make a sweet potato dish that has a similar topping, and I do eat it for dessert--the next day, for as long as it lasts. I love 84, Charing Cross Road and have never read anything else by Hanff, but now I'll have to!