Thursday, June 6, 2013

Book Club: Life After Life

Last week, it was my turn to host my book club. We've read a variety of books over the past two years, everything from The Hunger Games to In Cold Blood to The Round House to 50 Shades of Gray. Since I was hosting, it was my turn to pick the book. I had given lots of thought and deliberation into which book to pick. My favorite meetings we've had are when we read something new, and something I possibly wouldn't have picked up on my own. For three months, I was planning to go with The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green (and brother to Hank Green, who created by beloved Lizzie Bennet Diaries). A book which is possibly in the young adult category, but it was one of those books I just kept hearing about, over and over, during the past year. And then a few members said they had never read Pride and Prejudice, and I thought, oooh, Jane Austen Party. I can finally try and pull off this one Dear Lillie hosted a few years back and I've been dreaming about.

But then two weeks before I had to announce my choice, I started to hear a LOT of buzz for the new Kate Atkinson book, Life After Life. It sounded intriguing, and I've always loved alternate reality kinds of books/movies, like Sliding Doors, Groundhog Day, or Next.

While it took me a bit to get into the book, once I did, I was hooked. And while I knew that the author was British going into the book, I had no idea what a British book it would be. As in, wow, I don't think I've ever read such a quintessential British novel before. Name an important historical event in British history since 1910, and its covered in detail. Wonderfully, excruciating detail, that the historian in me just ate up. I don't think I've ever read such a fantastic book about the Blitz, for instance. Talk about really making you feel as if you were there. I loved reading about Ursula, her family, and her many lives throughout history. I don't want to say too much, except that you should go read this book. NOW.

So since I was hosting a book club about Britain, I naturally had to drag out some of my English decor to set the food table.

And when it came to choosing my hors d'oeuvre, well, what else could I serve but quintessential English food? Like scones, strawberry jam, and Devonshire cream.

And an English Trifle (I know, not exactly a trifle bowl. I have one, but after searching an hour plus for that sucker, I gave up, and just went with a footed crystal bowl).

There were also English cheeses, like Cheddar, Stilton, and a Double Gloucester with Chives, served with Carr's Table Water Crackers, of course. And I through out some Walker's Shortbread (which is technically Scottish, but I'm going with the Great Britain theme here, so I decided it worked).

And finally, in addition to the wines, I made some Pimm's. No English party is complete without Pimm's!

(The wines weren't English - even my dedication to the theme couldn't bring me to try a wine 
from a country known for its lager and scotch).

My favorite part of the book? Besides the history? The writing style was excellent, and it typified the English motto of "Keep Calm and Carry On." You can just see every character and stout fella putting out their stiff upper lips, keeping their chins up, and muddling on through. Keeping Calm and Carrying On. 

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