Sunday, 17 January 2016

Post on a snowy, snowy day...

I am appreciating my hot cup of chai tea this morning, as the cold weather seems to be here to stay.  I like this type of weather - it makes me feel invigorated just walking in the cold on a snowy trail.  And hot beverages are so much better when you really need to be warmed up.  I’m nibbling on some macarons that I bought from a bakery at the St Lawrence Market when I was in Toronto on Friday.  I have three flavours, Raspberry-Rosemary, Creme Brulee and Espresso.  They are so expensive that I’ve been savouring them over the last couple of days, but will finish them off this morning.  I first discovered these delectable treats in a book that I read for my “Friends” book club.  One of the characters raved about them, and I remember we all thought it was strange that this character was going mad over a box of macaroons.  A short time later, at a Volunteer Appreciation event, I came across little tiny layered treats in different flavours that represented foods from France, and they were called macarons.  I had one, and it really was worth raving about.  They are expensive, but worth enjoying as a treat every once in awhile… exactly what I’m going to do this morning!  As an aside, I can’t remember whether I read about these treats in My Husband’s Secret or The Elegance of the Hedgehog.  I put that question out to my book group, and hopefully someone will have the answer for me at our meeting tomorrow night.

I was facing a dilemma while I was cooking and baking this morning (macarons are a good treat now and then, but nothing beats homemade Date Loaf… mmm!!!) - I’m not quite finished my “Friends” book club selection, so I debated whether to finish the book before writing my blog, or writing about my opinions before finishing it, or just waiting until next week to write about our discussion.  I decided to summarize the book now and offer my initial thoughts, then give an update if anything changes after finishing it and/or having the group discussion.  The book is What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty, and it tells the story of Alice Love, a 39-year-old mother of three in Sydney Australia who, during her Friday spin class, falls off her bike, hitting her head and suffering a concussion.  She seems to recover nicely, except that she she has lost the memories of the last ten years - she thinks it is 1998, and that she is 29-years old, newly married to Nick, and pregnant with their first child.  What follows is her reentry into her life, where she discovers that she has not one but three children, that she is ultra-slim and fit, and that she and Nick are getting a divorce.  No one seems to want to give her any information about why they are separated; some find it hard to believe that she’s really lost her memory, while others just plain forget that she can’t remember things.  When she meets her “new” friends, she is shocked at their attitudes and behaviours, which she realized she, too, must share and approve of as the 39-year-old Alice.  She then meets her older husband and her children, and she is taken aback by the hostility of her oldest child and her husband towards her.  In short, she is horrified by the person she has become and the things she has done over the past ten years.  But is it too late to rectify these situations and change the future of her family?  This book has been recommended to me by various people in the past, particularly my massage therapist, who also loves to read.  This title was also on a Top 100 Best Book Club Choices list I found online, and I’ve read two other books by Moriarty which I really enjoyed.  So I thought I would love this one, too, but I found it really difficult to get into.  The beginning dragged, but it seemed to pick up a bit about a quarter of the way into it.  Unfortunately it never seemed to have the realistic feel of her other books; it is more like a fairytale, an “if I’d only known then what I know now” kind of story that never really works.  Now, granted, in the last 50 pages, it may all come together, but I don’t know how Moriarty could pull that off.  I find it hard to believe that no one is willing to fill Alice in on what has happened in the last ten years.  And I can’t believe that no one would drag her to a doctor when her memory loss continues for a week after her fall.  I’m curious what the other women in my group will say about the book, and will update you after the meeting.

I also finished listening to an audiobook on Friday, Devil May Care by Sebastian Faulks.  This is a recent “James Bond” novel, and since I have never read any of the originals by Ian Fleming, I can’t really compare it.  But it was fast-paced, with a complex, international plot featuring nasty villains and a beautiful woman, although not the many “spy gadgets” that I would have expected from watching a few of the “James Bond” movies.  In this book, set in 1967, Bond is nearing the end of enforced sick leave after his last case, during which I inferred that he was badly hurt, both physically and emotionally.  He is called back to service early, but told that his performance is being monitored to see if he is still up to this type of field work.  He is instructed to gather information on Julius Gorner, a brilliant but psychologically disturbed megalomaniac with a deep-seated hatred of England.  It turns out that Gorner is running legitimate pharmaceutical factories, but also heroin factories,  around the world, with the intention of creating addicts and drug-slums all over England.  His one weakness is his deformed hand, which resembles an oversized monkey’s paw, and which is always kept covered with a white glove.  When Bond is sent to Tehran to find Gorner’s factory, he makes contact with Darius, the Persian agent known as “Pistachio”, who helps him make his way around the city and provides information on Gorner.  Bond has also been contacted by Scarlett Papava, a beautiful young woman who asks for Bond’s help in finding and freeing her sister, Poppy, who is being held in the clutches of Gorner against her will.  Together Bond and Scarlett must find a way to shut down Gorner’s factories and also to stop his plan to send in bombs to Russia, supposedly under the guise of a stolen British airliner so that, at the height of the Cold War, Russia would believe that the UK is waging war on them.  This farfetched plot is exactly what I would expect from a “Bond” novel, so it was not disappointing, although it’s not exactly the type of book I would normally choose.  Based on the few “Bond” movies that I’ve seen, I expected more sexual content, but there was little of that, which was totally fine with me.  It was OK, not a great book, but definitely worth listening to, as it kept my interest pretty much to the end.  

That’s all for today.  Stay warm, and Happy Reading!

Bye for now…
Julie

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