Rowayton Library
November 2012                Reviews by Rowayton Library's Reader Advisor, Ruth Freeman

After the turkey... there is always a good read!



Ina Garten's latest cookbook, called 'Barefoot Contessa Foolproof: Recipes You Can Trust', is a winner. She knows how to inspire confidence and this book takes it one step further by concentrating on recipes that are guaranteed to work. The photos show colorful, flavorful food that can be produced in a normal kitchen with accessible ingredients.




'Jerusalem' by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi is as delightful and beautiful as 'Plenty', with the addition of some meat, poultry and seafood recipes. The authors write knowledgably about the city of Jerusalem, whose history and flavors are the cookbook's thematic center.



'Bouchon Bakery' by Thomas Keller is an unwieldy size and weight to actually use in the kitchen and is not for the faint of heart. He is a renowned perfectionist and if you tackle these recipes you are going to be weighing eggs, and water gunning river rocks in your oven - to name just a few of the culinary tips you will learn. Having said that, the book is breathtaking and the cheddar bacon scones are ethereal.




'The Smitten Kitchen' by Deb Perlman offers new recipes beyond those from her popular web site, which is a deservedly huge hit. She creates delicious food in a tiny NYC kitchen. She is an accomplished food photographer and creative cook.


'The End of Your Life Book Club' by Will Schwalbe is a wonderful memoir of a son's final few years with his terminally ill mother. Their "book club" keeps them diverted through endless doctors' appointments, providing distraction when his mother's life is taken over by medical interventions. They read and discuss a vast variety of books, and the unique perspective each brings to the table is thought provoking. It's very well written and touching.

Another recommended read for bibliophiles is Joe Queenan's collection called 'One for the Books'. It's a compilation of his essays on the joys of reading, how books rescued him from an impoverished childhood and continue to provide structure to his days. His style is very opinionated and tart, as those familiar with his Wall Street Journal column will recognize. His sense of humor shines through and makes this a joy to read.


'This is How you Lose Her' by Junot Diaz is an interesting book. It is a series of stories about the life of Dominican immigrants in the USA. The character of Yunior is the thread between the stories. There are both laugh out loud moments and scenes of real pathos as the characters attempt to sort out their destinies and try and scramble out of poverty.


'The Art Forger' by B.A. Shapiro cleverly develops a plot based on the infamous Isabelle Stewart Gardner Museum robbery. A professional copyist is enlisted to reproduce a famous Degas painting that was one of the stolen works. Complications ensue as the painting makes its way to a mystery buyer and affairs of the heart complicate the transaction. There is lots of action and diverting background on techniques of forging a painting, the style of Degas, and the museum and its founder. The book is not just for art enthusiasts; the writing is brisk and the author knows how to keep the pace of the plot moving.


'The Atlantic Coast, A Natural History' By William Thurston is a serious book about the health of this ocean and its complex ecosystem. The Atlantic combines swaths of heavily developed coastline with some of the richest fishing grounds in the world. This book, which has stunning photographs, provides a fascinating overview of the ocean that impacts so many of us. It is highly recommended for its visuals and current information.


'A Question of Identity' by Susan Hill is the latest in the Detective Inspector Simon Serrailler series. His beat is in Lafferton, a decidedly uncozy cathedral close in the UK. The violent deaths that eerily mimic those of an earlier psychotic killer puzzle the police and resurrect a cold case when a vicious killer may have been set free on a legal technicality. As always, the books are richer for the details of the extended family life that alternately strengthens and exasperates Simon.





The 'Dearie' book signing event has been rescheduled for Friday, December 7 at 7pm. Come meet Bob Spitz, the author of this diverting biography of one of America's icons, and nibble samples of sweet and savory Julia Child recipes.  




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