LUCY BURDETTE: Even though it didn’t feel much like summer this past week, Memorial Day weekend is supposed to mark that transition. Which makes it time to talk about what to read and what to eat while we’re reading. We have a lot of authors who visit here to tell us about their books, so maybe we’ll choose one from someone who hasn’t come to JRW?
My pick is Walter Wells and Patricia Wells WE’VE ALWAYS HAD PARIS...AND PROVENCE. I’m definitely a Francophile so I snatched this up when I saw it at one of the Key West Library’s book sales. If you aren’t familiar with the Wells family, they left good jobs at the New York Times to move to France when Walter was offered a job at the International Herald Tribune. Patricia managed to work herself into the position of food critic at L'Express, unheard of for a woman, and an American to boot. 25 plus years later, they are still living in France. The chapters alternate between the two--both are excellent writers and their journey is fascinating and mouthwatering.
Now what to eat...I’m dying for some real summer tomatoes. And once they arrive, I am going to make Patricia Wells’s recipe for puff pastry (found in THE FRENCH KITCHEN COOKBOOK) and serve tomato and olive tarts!
HALLIE EPHRON: Last month I did a shared event and got to know Holly Robinson. I adored her new book, "Haven Lake." It's one of those multi-generational stories that just have you rooting for everyone in it, though I confess I identified with the former-Hippie mother. So I've been saving one of Holly's other books, "Beach Plum Island," for a relaxing summer read. Great setup: Ava Barrett's father's last words on his deathbed: "I want your brother to know the truth." But Ava doesn't have a brother. What I didn't know about Holly: she wrote a piece for a women's magazine years and years ago called "Mom on Strike." It caused quite a stir, and I vividly remember reading. (Click here if you missed it and want to see what it said.)
What to eat? Peaches! Our produce market has just starting to get those little southern tree-ripened peaches that are exploding with flavor.
HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: I just did shared event with the amazing Elin Hilderbrand--we had a fabulous time, laughing and sharing stories. She's written I forget how many--17?--NYT bestselling beach-read books about life on Nantucket. People were coming to her signing line with arms full of books, each sharing a personal nugget about how they'd connected with her stories. So, yeah, I bought two, and cannot wait. Her newest one is THE RUMOR, coming soon.
But generally, um, that's not what I read. Those family saga books make me sad, I have to admit So I--well, I remember spending delighted summer vacations with WINDS OF WAR, and BONFIRE OF THE VANITIES. With THE GREEN MILE, remember? And UNDER THE DOME. Stephen King is a perfect beach read for me, as is Nelson DeMille. Lisa Scottoline. And there's a new Linwood Barclay coming! So that's my kind of summer read…
As for food? CORN! Grilled outside. Fresh basil and mozzarella. Prosciutto and gorgeous melon! And gin and tonics! And lovely chilled rose wine.
SUSAN ELIA MACNEAL: Usually loaded down with research books regardless of season, but I _am_ looking forward to one "fun" read in particular, called I, RIPPER: A NOVEL, by Stephen Hunter, about — yep, you guessed it — Jack the Ripper. It's the Ripper's story (of course), but entwined with that of a fictional Irish journalist who's covering the case — "and how the two men stalk each other."
I'm not really into those generational family saga books, although I do remember loving THE JOY LUCK CLUB and THE SHELL SEEKERS. If anyone has a great recommendation, I'd certainly try it!Summer food — tomatoes, mozzarella, basil drizzled with oil and vinegar. Anything grilled, especially corn on the cob. The Kiddo is obsessed with S'mores and the hubby does a great job with grilled meat and fish. It seems like we're house-sitting the late Jane Henson's (Jim Henson's widow's) country house in Connecticut for part of this summer, while Noel teaches a puppetry master class, so that's where we'll be....
RHYS BOWEN: Ah, summer reading. I'm hoping to do some un-work-related reading on a beach in Corfu next week. I met James Runcie at Crimefest and have one of the Granchester books to read. Also Connie Willis"s Blackout Books on my Kindle. And I love multi generational books. I'm a huge fan of Kate Morton... The Forgotten Garden etc. and to eat when reading? Being. Messy person it can't be peaches, Hallie. I'd drip all over the pages. But a favorite summer food is cherries. A bowl of cherries, and smoked salmon on thin brown bread, and Pimms to sip.... Now I'm really being indulgent!
DEBORAH CROMBIE: Rhys, you will love Black Out and the James Runcies, I hope! Lucy, I have Patricia Wells' cookbook, too! Time to get that out and be inspired--although it feels more like monsoon than summer here. No beach for me (Rhys oh so casually says "on a beach in Corfu" and we are all dying of envy...) But I would just be thrilled to see sunshine. To sit on my deck in the mornings. To--gasp--lie in my hammock on my new (drowned) patio! As for summer reading, I have to confess that I have been re-reading Diana Gabaldon. I'm now halfway through Voyager, and at this rate I might get caught up on the books I haven't read by Christmas. But if I picked a summer read for the days when I will eventually get to enjoy my hammock, I'd start with the Nancy Thayer novel I bought last week, then move on to the Patricia Wells memoir that Lucy mentioned.
Summer food most anticipated?? Real tomatoes, with basil and olive oil. Cantalope with prosciutto. And TEXAS BLUEBERRIES by the pint!
What are you going to read and eat this summer Reds?