The “Literal Hotties” were at it again this month: food, wine, and books – that’s what we do best!
You know you belong to the right book club when everyone shows up at the door with hands full of tasty food. I <3 covered dishes! 😉
As a group, we’ve been taking turns selecting the month’s book and hosting our monthly meetings (see: June, July, and October). This month Jess took charge by selecting North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell as our book and the Thanksgiving theme for tonight’s potluck.
This was my first taste of Thanksgiving food of the season, the set up reminded me of the Thanksgiving potlucks my roommates and I used to host in college (we used to have so much fun prepping for those). I was in charge of the potatoes tonight and decided to keep it simple with a mix of mashed sweet potatoes, parsnips, and white potatoes. I really liked the idea of adding the parsnips to the sweet potatoes for a little spice, but I’m not sure I added enough to taste a difference. I did three parts sweet potato to one part parsnip, next time I would make those number a little more even.
With my sweet potatoes, we also had mac and cheese, pumpkin biscuits, green bean casserole, stuffing, and turkey breast.
As we sat down Stephanie proudly proclaimed “I’m so glad I have friends that can cook.” I could not agree with that statement more. Everything on my plate was delicious, especially the mac and cheese (and I don’t even like mac and cheese!). It wasn’t your traditional mac and cheese, it was more of a corn casserole with pasta shells inside. Sounds strange, but it worked really well. I’ll have to snag that recipe from Mary.
For dessert, Stephanie made pumpkin pie with homemade ginger snap crust.
And fresh whipped cream.
Wow. Just wow. She told me it was a Martha Stewart recipe, that Martha Stewart really knows her stuff! The crust was a little crumbly, but my taste buds didn’t mind. It was the perfect mix of sweet pumpkin and ginger snap spice. 🙂
Now, for the book.
With an Introduction and Notes by Dr Patsy Stoneman, University of Hull Set in the mid-19th century, and written from the author’s first-hand experience, North and South follows the story of the heroine’s movement from the tranquil but moribund ways of southern England to the vital but turbulent north. Elizabeth Gaskell’s skilful narrative uses an unusual love story to show how personal and public lives were woven together in a newly industrial society. This is a tale of hard-won triumphs – of rational thought over prejudice and of humane care over blind deference to the market. Readers in the twenty-first century will find themselves absorbed as this Victorian novel traces the origins of problems and possibilities which are still challenging a hundred and fifty years later: the complex relationships, public and private, between men and women of different classes.
You know how I rave about how awesome it is to run while listening to a book? Well, I’ve discovered it’s not awesome to listen to every book on a run. I downloaded the audio version for North and South sometime last month and could only last through an easy three miler with it.
The book was written during the mid-19th century and is set during the industrial boom of London. I tried hard to pay attention to the lady with a heavy British accent during the run, but the pace of book and the sound of the voice made it hard to concentrate. I found myself zoning out to things that were not book related and completely missed everything that was being read to me. I finished my three miles without a clue of what was going on. That was definitely first, I’ve listened to at least a dozen books on runs and never had a problem of not knowing what was going on at the end of my run. Of course, those books were easy reads, not classics. I guess a good classic isn’t meant for a run. 😉
I tried to listen to the book again on my way to Miami last Monday, but it wasn’t working. North and South is definitely a book that needs focus and a little dedication to get through. I almost wish I had a paperback version of the book so I could write notes to myself (like I used to do in high school and college), throughout the book. I guess paperbacks still have a place in the digital world after all.
Unfortunately I ran out of time and couldn’t finish the book before our meeting, but I was still able to hold my own in our conversation regarding the book, modern caste systems, and marrying for love versus money. We had an interesting mix of discussion topics that really tied well with modern society.
I stayed out way too late discussing London’s industrial come of age, and now I’m ready for bed.
Have you read North and South? What were your thoughts?