Sunday, January 3, 2010

24w3d: a book review

Since I am home reading many books and watching many movies and TV shows, I thought I would begin reviewing some of what I see and read. Obviously I am not a professional critic, but maybe some of you value my opinion.

I recently read Melissa Banks's novel The Wonder Spot. Melissa Banks wrote a very successful novel, The Girls Guide to Hunting and Fishing, which came out when I was in college, and which I enjoyed. I originally bought The Wonder Spot to read on my honeymoon in July of 2006. At this point, I have to say that the book is much better suited to bedrest than it is to a Caribbean honeymoon. The main character in both novels is someone you have a little bit of a hard time pulling for; the women are not successful in life and love, and make frequent social blunders or sometimes do things that are just plain uncomfortable to read about. This might make it easier for the reader to identify with, because everyone has had those mortifying moments we wish we could forget, but which somehow seem to define us and our identities.

The Wonder Spot strays from the typical female-centered novel in that the main character does not have a single conquerable problem that she has fixed by the end of the novel. Rather, you get to see Sophie at various points in her life, and see the ways in which her enduring personality traits affect her at different ages. The author has an ability to pick up on nuances in people's behavior that were familiar to me, and I found myself thinking, "Oh, yes, I know someone just like that!" Her writing is easy to read without making the reader feel as though the author is condescending to them, and there are many poignant moments throughout the book.

I enjoyed reading the book (both in 2006 and 2009), but it is not an uplifting, happy-end tale. It did make my mind churn, to think of some of the defining moments or missed opportunities in my own life. I would definitely recommend this book to others.


In other news, there is not much news. Today was quiet. Our neighbors, Tom and Amy, came over for dinner. Amy had kindly made us an entire meal! She made a beef stew from the Williams-Sonoma Comfort Food cookbook, and it was really good! I made a beef stew from Cook's Illustrated a few weeks ago, and I would say Amy's stew was MUCH better. And then she left us the leftovers! So I have a wonderful lunch waiting for me.

Eric also made Nigella Lawson's triple-chocolate cookies. These are soooo good. They come from her "Nigella Express" cookbook. Eric makes the cookies bigger than I do, but they are pretty rich, so what we do is make a batch of dough, and then freeze dough in scooped-out portions. Then we have a bag full of frozen dough and can put cookies in the oven at any minute for hot, chocolatey cookies whenever the need strikes. Eric was excited because for Christmas I had gotten "dishers" from his mom and they got used today. They make all the cookies the same size, which is important to Eric because then everything cooks at the same rate. Anyway, totally delicious and I am very proud of myself that I ate only one cookie and didn't pull the "pregnant lady" card and overindulge.

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