Thursday, June 02, 2016

Book Talk

Today I'm chatting about the two books I'm currently reading.  Next week I plan to write about how I go about choosing what books I read and how I decided what my kids would (and would not) read when they were quite young.  I'm also sharing about a Podcast that other Masterpiece fans will enjoy.

The first book I'm enjoying is Susan Branch's new book, Martha's Vineyard Isle of Dreams.  I must admit I didn't purchase it for I really didn't care for the second book in her memoir trilogy called The Fairy Tale Girl.  I had preordered it because the first in the trilogy, A Fine Romance: Falling in Love With the English Countryside was quite wonderful.

I had found The Fairy Tale Girl a not so pleasant read as most of it is the story of Susan's first marriage and breakup.  The 1960s California values were such that I wanted to shake the young Susan by the shoulders and tell her to wise up.  I'm glad I read it for it explains her younger years but I was sorry I had preordered it.  I ended up sending it in a box to charity.

All that to explain that I wasn't sure what to expect with Isle of Dreams.  However, people I trust started reading it and had good things to say.  One in particular, who had felt the same way I did about her last book, thought this one quite wonderful.  Then a very good friend offered to send me her copy as soon as she finished it if I liked.  I did like.

This book is more on the order of A Fine Romance, an enjoyable read full of her lovely illustrations.  It begins when she moves to Martha's Vineyard and much of it is about getting used to New England after growing up in California and... the story of how her first book was written (painted?) and came to be published.

It is also the story of kitties and books and vintage decorating and those things I hold dear.  This will take a place on the shelf next to A Fine Romance and sections will be reread many times.  I can't describe how beautiful it is just to peruse.  I skimmed it the last day the family was here, sitting in my Study chair with a Maine Coon snoozing nearby as I tried to just breath with a stuffy head.  Thankfully, there was a house full of family so my absence was hardly noticed.

I am now reading through the book slower and stopping to enjoy the illustrations. It is quite easy to pick up in between house and gardening projects... or when one is getting over a cold.  Sigh. (I am feeling better by the way.)

I can highly recommend Martha's Vineyard Isle of Dreams!

The second book I'm reading is one I purchased with Amazon credit called Kitchen Gypsy by Joanne Weir.  She is one of my long time favorite PBS cooking teachers and I was interested from the moment I heard she was writing a combination memoir and recipe book.

I've read enough to know this book is not going to disappoint my expectations. So far I've read through her childhood and teenage years and the role her parents and both sets of grandparents had in her love of food and cooking.

I had to stop last night when my eyes were too tired to continue reading... just after her college years when she was beginning to try new food, spices, etc. other than what she grew up with in New England.

I'm looking forward to the years she spent working at Chez Panisse with Alice Waters, who became her mentor.  This is a big, beautiful memoir with recipes that showcase her culinary journey.  A lot of cheffy memoirs either have a good story or just good recipes.  This has both.  Stephanie was here when it arrived and has already asked me to send it to her when I finish (and after I copy some recipes!).

As an aside... I read Alice Waters memoir a few years ago and while it was interesting, she also was really into the 1960s California hippy culture as a young person.  So it was interesting to read but I was glad to return it to the library.  Her books about food and cooking are definitely must reads as she was one of the pioneers for using fresh, local ingredients when possible.

I am enjoying Kitchen Gypsy very much! 

The podcast I'm recommending this time is the PBS Masterpiece podcast.  I love how it is set up for it usually concentrates on the latest featured Masterpiece showing.  There are often interviews about the show and with cast members.

For instance, the latest podcasts have centered around one of my very favorite PBS Mysteries called Wallander.  The final three shows of the series concluded while my family was here and my granddaughter, Elisabeth, was fine about me keeping her up late to watch it (she was sleeping in the Family Room where it was showing on the TV).

I love broody ethereal looking mysteries and Wallander was best at that (a close second is the newer Masterpiece Mystery series called Shetland).

Because the podcasts are centered around one show for awhile, it makes it easy to catch up on episodes of interest.  Just last night, I listened to the episode featuring the young woman (Emily Barker) who wrote and sung the famous theme to Wallander called Nostalgia.

This is a fairly new podcast, the first Masterpiece show it featured was Downtown Abbey and there are a lot of podcasts surrounding the final season.  Other shows featured have been Grantchester and there is at least one podcast about Mr. Selfridge.

Further information about Martha's Vineyard Isle of Dreams can be found... here.*

Information about A Fine Romance: Falling In Love With the English Countryside is... here*

Further information about Kitchen Gypsy can be found... here*

The Amazon mp3 download of Nostalgia can be found... here.*

Information regarding the PBS Masterpiece Podcast can be found... here.  You can listen to it online at this website or download it through iTunes.

*Most links to are Associate Links.  I thank you!


Deanna Rabe - Creekside Cottage Blog said...

I'm glad to read your review about Susan Branch's books. I haven't read any other than "A Fine Romance" which I loved! Maybe I'll get the next two from the library.

I don't have tv so I can't keep up with the Masterpiece shows. I'll have to check this one out.

Maureen said...

We loved Wallender and hated to see it end--and the way it ended. The way the filming was done was SO GOOD! Thanks for the info about Shetland. I enjoy many podcasts, and have downloaded everything from Masterpiece Studio. I enjoy reading your Book Talk episodes; thanks for sharing.

Patti said...

I love A Fine Romance. Reading it made me want to take the exact same kind of trip to England. Even if I had to fly there and not take "a crossing," I would be thrilled with a trip to that beautiful country.

I haven't read the other 2 books, but I have them on hold at the library, so I will soon be doing so.

Thanks for the reviews.


Patti @ Embracing Home

Heather LeFebvre said...

Glad you are enjoying Susan's latest book. I agree with you on the other though I have kept mine..... What she is missing the is the Source of beauty and healing.....that would make everything make sense. Just finished A Fine Romance last night as had to read it again after finishing Isle of Dream. :)

Debbie said...

Oh I so love watching Joanne Weir's show! I did not realize that she worked at the same restaurant the my cousin has also worked at in the past. Small world!