Guest Review – A Month of Sundays – Liz Byrski

A Month of Sundays Liz Byrski cover art

 

A Month of Sundays

Liz Byrski

Pan Macmillan AU

ISBN: 9781743534946

Description:

For over ten years, Ros, Adele, Judy and Simone have been in an online book club, but they have never met face to face. Until now…

Determined to enjoy her imminent retirement, Adele invites her fellow bibliophiles to help her house-sit in the Blue Mountains. It’s a tantalising opportunity to spend a month walking in the fresh air, napping by the fire and, of course, reading and talking about books.

But these aren’t just any books: each member has been asked to choose a book which will teach the others more about her. And with each woman facing a crossroads in her life, it turns out there’s a lot for them to learn, not just about their fellow book-clubbers, but also about themselves.

Liz Byrski has written a beautiful novel about the joy and comfort reading a good book can bring to us all.

 

Brenda’s Review:

The four women; Ros from Sydney, Adele from Adelaide, Judy from Mandurah near Perth, and Simone from Tasmania have had their weekly book club meetings via Skype, always online, never having met one another. The group had been larger but had dwindled over the years; the four were friends but in saying that, hardly knew one another. When a friend of Adele’s asked her to house-sit in the Blue Mountains – take some friends if she wanted – Adele immediately thought of the book club ladies. Her trepidation at sending the email to them all was unwarranted, as all three gave a resoundingly positive yes!

Each member was to choose a book that had meaning to them; to bring four copies and when it was that person’s turn, hand out the copy leaving a week to read it. Then come Sunday, it was discussion time. As the days moved forward, in among the brisk walks in the sunshine; the sharing of the beauty of the area; and of course, the joy of having Ros’ dog Clooney to fuss over – everyone realized that these women in their sixties and seventies, had a past which had affected their current lives, and themselves. They were at the stage of needing to learn why they were as they were, and whether it was possible to let the past remain in the past – to make peace with it.

Would those very special books, chosen with love by the four book club women, help in defining them? And would four women, previously unknown to each other, other than an online presence, manage to get on for four weeks in the same house?

A Month of Sundays by Aussie author Liz Byrski is an exceptional, emotional and brilliant read! I can’t fault the writing, the story, the fabulous women – and of course being about books, I’m going to look up each and every book they read for their book club get together each Sunday (and I won’t say what they are here as it’ll spoil the element of surprise for a new reader). I want to be taught yoga by Simone – I identified so much with Adele – I felt a deep empathy for Ros; and loved Clooney – and wanted to give Judy a big hug. Such an excellent read – Ms Byrski doesn’t disappoint. Highly recommended – 5 stars.

With thanks to Pan Macmillan AU for my uncorrected proof ARC to read and review.

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Sidetracked…

In the mail this week I received a copy of  The Girl Who Takes and Eye For an Eye – David Lagercrantz (continuing the Steig Larsson triology). All good except I then realised  that this is book 5 and I hadn’t read book  4.  A bit of googling and I came across a copy in the local area – quick into the car and was immediately sidetracked by a pop up cellar door – open today only.  We had to stop.  What delightful wines.

 

Pop up cellar door and books

 

 

Sweet Surprises

It is almost Valentines Day…again..already, and what better way to say I Love You than sharing a meal or a sweet treat made with love?

Here are a few suggestions to make cooking for that special someone, easy. And if cooking isn’t your “thing” how about gifting a book or two? I will have several to give away in the next few days.

Now what will it be? Moulded Chocolates, recipe by that well known chocolatier Kirsten Tibballs? Or Simmone Logue’s delicious Caramel Kisses?  I’ll post both recipes and you can make that difficult choice or choose to make both 🙂 

 

Moulded Chocolates

Chocolate - Cover

Chocolate by Kirsten Tibballs (Murdoch Books, RRP $49.99)

Makes: 50   Gluten-free

Moulded chocolates look like sparkling jewels — the plastic mould makes the chocolate contract and become shiny. Handle the chocolates as little as possible to maintain the shine. You can make these moulded chocolates with milk or dark chocolate if you prefer.” p. 74-77

 

Chocolate Shells

Ingredients

100 g (31/2 oz) good-quality white chocolate, coarsely chopped (a)

red oil-based powdered food colouring

500 g (1 lb 2 oz) good-quality white chocolate, coarsely chopped (b)

 

chocolate_moulded-chocolates

 

Method

 Temper the chocolate (a) (see pages 12–14). Sift in the red food colouring and mix to combine. Polish chocolate moulds with cotton wool to eliminate any fingerprints. (I have used two heart-shaped moulds for this recipe. All moulds vary in shape and size – select ones you like.) Using your finger or a brush, paint a thin layer of the red chocolate into the base of each mould and scrape the top of the mould with a metal scraper to remove any excess red chocolate from the top surface of the mould.

 

Temper the chocolate (b) (see pages 12–14).

 

Once the first red chocolate layer has set, fill the mould with the tempered white chocolate and scrape the top and sides of the mould to remove any excess chocolate. Tap or vibrate the mould on a work surface from side to side to dislodge any air bubbles trapped on the surface. Turn the mould upside down suspended above a sheet of baking paper and tap it firmly on the side of the mould with a scraper or palette knife to remove the excess chocolate. (Once set, the chocolate on the baking paper can be stored and re-tempered for ‘Sealing the mould’ – see page 77.) Scrape the mould while still upside down to remove any drips of chocolate. Turn the mould the right way up and tap and scrape again if necessary. Place the mould on its side to set or if your room temperature is warm, place for a short period in the refrigerator.

 

Ganache Filling

Ingredients

200 g (7 oz/11∕3 cups) coarsely chopped good-quality milk chocolate

100 g (31/2 oz/2∕3 cup) coarsely chopped good-quality dark chocolate

260 ml (9 fl oz) cream (35% fat)

1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped

1 teaspoon unsalted butter

 

Method

 Put both chocolates in a heatproof bowl. Put the cream and vanilla bean seeds in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to the boil. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate, whisking by hand until all the chocolate is melted and combined. Add the butter, whisking to combine. Scrape the ganache down from the side of the bowl and cover with plastic wrap so it is touching the surface of the ganache. Leave the ganache until it cools to just below 30°C (86°F), then use immediately.

 

Transfer the prepared ganache to a piping (icing) bag with a 5–10 mm  (1/4–½ inch) plain nozzle. Pipe the ganache into each chocolate-lined mould, leaving space to seal the mould with more chocolate. (You can also use a teaspoon to spoon the ganache into the moulds.) Leave to cool at room temperature – as long as the temperature doesn’t exceed 23°C (73°F). If the room is too hot, place the ganache in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 1 hour or up to 24 hours before sealing, to enable the ganache to firm up. You can also put the mould in the refrigerator, but for no longer than 15 minutes.

 

Sealing the mould
Once the ganache has been setting for a minimum of 1 hour in the mould, temper the remaining white chocolate (see pages 12–14) that was tapped out of the mould. If your mould has been sitting for more than 12 hours, warm the surface slightly with a hair dryer. Place a sheet of baking paper under the mould. Spread a layer of tempered chocolate on the base of the mould and tap on the side of the mould with the handle of a palette knife or spatula to pop any air bubbles. Scrape firmly on the surface of the mould with a metal scraper wider than the mould or a metal spatula. Scrape again if needed and then scrape the excess chocolate off the sides of the mould and repeat the process with the second mould.

Let the moulds sit at room temperature for 10 minutes and then place in the refrigerator for 20 minutes. Turn the mould over onto a clean work surface and tap to dislodge the chocolates. As soon as they come out, move them gently to the side and tap again if needed. Store the chocolates at room temperature – as long as the temperature doesn’t exceed 23°C (73°F). If the room is too hot, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.

 

 

 

In The Mail This Week…8th August 2015

Some great reads here once more…I am so privileged to receive so many wonderful books from Australian publishers. Which would you start reading? I have made some in roads in Waterfront and had a flicked through David Herbert’s Best Home Cooking (and I am soaking some chick peas ready to try out a few recipes that said “make me now”). The others…I just want to read them all …NOW 🙂

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In The Mailbox This Week 28th May 2015

Another great selection of books arrived in the mail this week – do any of these tempt you? I have just started to read the short story collection – Lost Boy and Other Stories- Margaret River Short Story Competition  2015 – keen to have idea of this book before I attend the launch of the festal where the winners of the short story competition will be announced. On  Saturday I will also attend   12.00-1.00 session where Award winning poet Nandi Chinna and the Margaret River Short Story Competition winners discuss whether there is a revival in the popularity of short prose – has a new season dawned for poetry and the short story? I am already thinking maybe poetry is having  a revival….what do you think?

 

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Getting Ready For A Garage Sale on Sunday

Is the concept of garage sales unique to Australia?  Sunday we are trying our luck at selling some unwanted ( but  mostly much loved items) – at the moment the items; books, cd’s dvd’s, clothes, dinner set… bike…camping style chairs…designer bags…are mostly in our hallway 🙂  The more I start to seriously think about the the more stuff I find 🙂  Once you start to part with treasures hoarded the easier it becomes ( plus I have done some online shopping and have new things to replace old/not so old in my cupboard – you know those impulse buys that you don’t like when you get home, the online shopping – clothes mostly – that don’t look/seem quite like what you thought or the size doesn’t work for you…)… the books you will never re read…the more I look the more I find.  looking forward to some space in my cupboards- replace, recycle, renew…

 

Today I had my first customer ( she is  working on Sunday so asked to come earlier). It was such a pleasant experience – I hope that is an indication of what is to come.

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In the Mail This Week…

book

Whilst we are away our daughter is opening the mail and filling my inbox with cheer. This is a sample of the delights that await me when I get home  next week. I don’t know what I will enjoy more – the books – some beauties here or the Kate Spade bag- the bag may become my new favourite.

 

bag