Thursday, 8 October 2015

The Year in Books - October

There was very little reading going on around here last month. My Year in Books choice for September was The One Hundred Year Old Man. It started off okay and was completely ridiculous but funny, once or twice in a laugh out loud way (embarassing when you are on the train) but it soon became so unbelievable and so tedious I struggled to keep going. It felt like a single not very good joke - this elderly man climbing out of a window on his 100th birthday and then getting into all sorts of escapades - that was being spun out over 387 pages... far too long and by the time I got to the end it had put me off picking up another book. I just didn't feel like reading anything. Silly ending too!

Then my friend Anne popped The Way We Wore - A Life in Clothes through the letterbox so I thought I might as well read that as anything else. It is an autobiography by Daphne Selfe the 87 year old supermodel who was one of the stars of Fabulous Fashionistas (I've suddenly spotted an age theme to my reading!). To be completely honest the writing wasn't that good and it was rather repetitive but it was interesting from a social history of dress point of view. And she did come acoss as a rather nice lady, if a little naive. At one point during early years she claims that they had to be frugal with their clothes as they were poor... and then almost in the next paragraph tells of sitting at the grand piano in the sitting room and how they could only afford one girl to help around the house!

Another reason for not reading so much this month has been the start of my new venture (Thank you for all the wonderful words of encouragement by the way)... which of course has required much research and reading of cookery books. This is my latest aquistion

Although I think that Patisserie Made Simple is a bit of a misnomer. Nothing simple about it!

When we passed through France on return from our holiday I took many photos of beautiful Patissiers and we sampled the gorgeous Laduree macarons which came in so many delightful colours and flavours

So it seemed like a good idea to perfect my own macaron skills especially as they are often seen decorating the tops of fancy cakes. I have made them before without too much trouble but the first batch I made following Ed Kimber's instructions in the book were useless being all soft and cracked... so they went in the bin. The second batch were marginally better and I managed to take the photo below before most of those went in the bin too! What they lacked in good looks, they made up for in taste but I came to the conclusion that mostly they are too much effort for what you get back in return... and I'm a girl who will happily while away an entire afternoon on fiddly twiddly baking. No more macarons for me... and then I saw these by Hazel from Procastibake and I've changed my mind. I know I will make these!

 Another thing I have been reading is a playscript, as at the end of this month our drama group is putting on 'Allo, 'Allo. I never manage to read many other books when I have lines to learn. I confess I had never seen the TV programme until we got involved with this play and I'm not sure what I feel about it. It is so ridiculous and totally non PC but there are several laugh out loud moments so I'm sure it will be fun. I'm playing the part of Michelle, the resistance leader... Listen very carefully, I shall say zis only once...

And so to my choice of book for October... which is Emma by Alexander McCall Smith. I was almost a week into the month with nothing new to read, despite having many books on shelves and on lists that I would like to read, when Stewart brought this back for me from a recent trip up to Dundee. It is a retelling Jane Austen's classic (which I confess I have never read) and a gentle, easy read in the style of all his previous books. Nothing earth shattering, but enjoyable enough!

Joining in with Laura at Circle of Pine Trees for The Year in Books


  1. Thanks for the book reviews. Glad you found a macaroon recipe that worked for you. I am so mean I would have eaten the failed ones rather than put them in the bin, which is why I am overweight and you are not! Good luck with 'Allo Allo' - we have watched many episodes and love it because of it's lack of PC.

  2. I quite enjoyed the book about the silly man climbing out of his window but you are right, it is silly beyond belief and can only be enjoyed in tiny doses. I think I listened to an interview with the elderly supermodel but I can't be sure it is the same woman. She was interesting, too. I like Alexander McCall Smith but haven't read Emma. I hope you enjoy it.
    I cannot believe that you didn't eat the macarons! I would have scoffed them in a minute flat. I see macarons here in one of our fancy cafes, they sell them for £1 each. Maybe you should persevere, it is seems like a huge margin (but I have never made any so don't know). xx

  3. The boy here has the Edd Kimber book and he made one of the recipes last weekend. Took two days and cost me a small fortune in ingredients. And I didn't get to have a taste as it wasn't vegan. Actually, far from it!

  4. Hmmmm, sounds like an off month for books in your house. I guess they can't all be hits LOL. I made a few batches of macarons a few years ago -- it was fun, but so. much. work. for a few cookies. They are divine though and I think I might be getting the urge to make them again. Thanks for the link to the Procrastibake macarons -- they look wonderful!

  5. Hurrah!Not just me who thought the ending was silly and disappointing.
    I will check out the Alexander McCall Smith. Sounds like a light read for my holiday.

  6. I have never read Emma, not have I baked Macarons, not even tasted one in fact.

    Last month was a dismal failure bookwise, I only got through three though I do have three on my table that I am dipping into since they are about wildlfe, Shetland knitting and a cookbook. Must do better!

    Carry on enjoying your baking...

  7. Now here is a very odd thing, Gina.

    Somehow, I don't think I finished reading your prior post. My own autumn season is filled with a number of changes, some of which have me coming home from work later than ever, and also sometimes earlier than ever. I've had to return several wonderful books to the library before reaching the last page, and have been able to revew some others several times.

    Time is very odd for me now.

    And so, I now want to praise your turning to baking, and having your delicious baking reach a ever enlarging (pun, maybe) audience. Bravo. I will definitely be saying this to you more than once!

    Macarons are very tricky to make. The NYC Laduree locations actually have theirs shipped over daily from Paris. True.

    I am thinking that I could submit a resume to you, hoping to be selected as an official tester and taster of your baked creations.

    Think that I will have to email you more about what's now on my plate. xo

  8. In Zurich we used to buy Luxemburgerli.
    When I worked there it was a sometime treat I could afford.

    Recently they have begun selling macaroons in Cape Town but at eye watering prices, that just aren't worth it for a mouthful.

  9. I can imagine from the way that you write that you will make a wonderful Michelle in the play! She was a great character in the tv series and I am sure that you will be just as great! Hope you enjoy it!!! xx

  10. Threw them in the bin?!? The BIN?!?!?!
    Save them for me, I'll eat them even if they've gone stale before I see you. In fact, go straight to the bin NOW and get them out!
    Seriously, they looked lovely, and I am sure they tasted wonderful.
    And thanks for saving me reading another average book. Life's too short xxx

  11. It's all go in your world but good to know there's always a space for reading a good book! I don't think I'll be adding your recent reads to my list. I'm too engrossed in reading books by CJ Sansom about some Tudor lawyer called Shardlake. A friend recommended them and although I claimed not to like historical fiction and especially historical who dunnits I am hooked. Can't get enough of them!

  12. How could you possibly throw them in the bin!!!! I really can't believe anything you make could be a failure anyway. I do hope you are satisfied with your next lot of macaroons.
    I could not get to the end of the 101 year old man - I enjoyed it for a while, but the further I read, the more I thought how silly it was, so in the end I just gave up.
    Emma sounds interesting, I liked Jane Austen's book, must see if I can get this one on audio seeing I can no longer read. Listening to books is a whole new experience too.
    Good luck with the cooking. Cheers


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