Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Silas Marner Tea – January 22, 2011

George Eliot is not one of my favorite authors. I recognize that her works are proven literary classics. I understand that her writing is solid, deeply developed and knowledgeable.

Is it her technique that I don’t relish? Is it her delivery that seems sere…too lacking in emotion?

In the midst of her novels there are bright, stirring plotlines with characters that ache with longing, grapple with guilt and shine with loving innocence. Why do they seem to stand behind the pages of Eliot’s description waiting patiently for entrance?


The moving storyline regarding Silas Marner and his sweet adoption of little Eppie is one of my George Eliot favorites. Poor lowly weaver of Raveloe – reclusive and crushed by society – broken free from his isolation by a lost and friendless little toddler. Shimmering golden locks replace piles of glinting gold. The guild-ridden anonymous father watching from his squire’s mansion… throwing money and gifts at a daughter he was without the courage to claim.

Is it possible that we all know a Nancy – the one who stands on principle but misses the passion of Right? Are we fortunate to have Dolly Winthrops in our midst waiting with common sense and compassion? How much to we reach out to those around us – risking disapproval or standing in vulnerability so that the kindness and goodwill of our neighbors can thaw our locked & frigid hearts?

As The Jane Austen Tea Society - we have found that thoughts and ideas sound better & flow more freely over bone china cups of Cream Earl Grey, Yorkshire Harrogate and Baroness Grey teas.

It was a small group of us for this snow clad January Silas Marner Book Tea – only five tea-bibbers. But we had a superb time nibbling goodies and sharing our thoughts.

Next – The Tenant Of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë in April…

Monday, January 17, 2011

Silas Marner Tea and Book Discussion - January 22, 2011 - 1pm

“Marner took her on his lap, trembling with an emotion mysterious to himself, at something unknown dawning on his life. Thought and feeling were so confused within him, that if he had tried to give them utterance, he could only have said that the child was come instead of the gold -- that the gold had turned into the child.”

Silas Marner – Chapter 14

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Upcoming Silas Marner Tea - January 22nd!

... Also, by way of throwing further light on this clue of the tinder-box, a collection was made of all the articles purchased from the pedlar at various houses, and carried to the Rainbow to be exhibited there. In fact, there was a general feeling in the village, that for the clearing-up of this robbery there must be a great deal done at the Rainbow, and that no man need offer his wife an excuse for going there while it was the scene of severe public duties...

Chapter VIII - Silas Marner

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A Paris Christmas – Immoveable Feast by John Baxter

The Christmas holidays didn’t leave me much time for writing, but I did manage to capture some precious,
hide-in-the-corner-and-read time fortunately. It has always been a habit to happily contemplate which books I might read on vacation and it is crucial to match the event. A “beach book” to take to the Carolina coast or Florida panhandle is a different animal from the novel or travel read that might take you somewhere your heart yearns to go while the snow falls outside and a fire crackles on the hearth.

In a book lover’s life you run through many beloved and rare books but you also happen upon some that you would have done well to not spend valuable reading time wading through. Well, before the holidays came I started and finished a book that was both tedious and dry…sigh… so it made this John Baxter holiday read all the better.

A Paris Christmas – Immoveable Feast was fun to read as Christmas week approached and we headed out on vacation for a long-awaited visit with family and friends. I was able to curl up in happy proximity to a lovely sister and sweet, laughing nieces and then in the fragrant, pine scented cottage of dear friends and savor the preparations for a sumptuous Christmas dinner that Mr. Baxter was planning for his family outside of Paris.

“Ernest Hemingway called Paris “a moveable feast.” He meant to compare it to those events of the Christian calendar – Lent, Pentecost – that change their date depending on when Easter falls. There is, the term implies, no “right” time to discover Paris. Its pleasures can be relished at any moment in one’s life.

But the phrase is subject to another interpretation. At certain times of year, the spirit of Paris moves elsewhere. It’s soul migrates, and this most beautiful of cities briefly falls empty.

One such moment is August, when Parisians reaffirm their cultural roots by returning to the regions of their ancestors.

Another is Christmas.

But where do the French go at Christmas? And what takes place there?

That, among other things, is what this book is about.”

From the Preface

This book is wonderfully atmospheric. From descriptions of a table set up in a generations old French mansion to dishes well planned and prepared. It’s a delicious slice of French life… exactly what I like to read.

“That night, I pan-fried two pork chops in a little butter, peeled and sliced one of the apples (a ‘clochard’), scattered the pieces over and around the pork, reduced the heat almost to nothing, and put on a lid.

When I lifted it twenty minutes later, a wave of steam carried the odors of fruit and meat through the house. Cooked in their own juices, the chops were succulent and tender. The pieces of apple, far from turning to mush, were translucent and intact. Better still, heat at the bottom of the pan had caramelized their sugar, turning the lower surfaces a rich brown.

Lifting the chops onto a plate, I surrounded them with the apple pieces, deglazed the pan with a little Calvados, tossed in a pinch of salt, and poured the sauce over the dish.

It was the kind of simple cooking France has made its own: local ingredients, bought fresh, prepared quickly and simply, and served with care.”

I was not reveling in French food in the sensory paradise of Paris this Christmas, but thanks to this book – the gift of a friend who knows me very well – I was able to taste, smell and imagine the experience while having my own memory-forged time with people I love and tasting the foods of home and friendship.

Booklovers – find this book and tuck it away on a shelf to pull out next December for your holiday reading list!

A Paris Christmas – Immoveable Feast

By John Baxter

Harper Perennial © 2008