It is an overcast misty weekend in the Northwest. For me, one of life's pleasures is to read a good book while I sprawl out in my very comfortable chair/ottoman. There's always a good cup of tea nearby. I have found that there are books that seem to exude this very feeling of coziness that I call "afternoon cup of tea" books. They're the books you settle into and become part of the story. Erica Bauermeister is one who writes books that fit into this category.
I first read The School of Essential Ingredients a couple of years ago. It is about people who are taking a cooking class. Each has his or her own story and it is as if the novel is itself a recipe, each person being an essential ingredient. It was a lovely book and I had a good feeling when I finished it.
I remembered how much I enjoyed that book when I saw that her new one, Joy For Beginners, had come out this summer. I knew I had to read it.
On a warm Seattle evening, Kate and her friends are celebrating her cancer survival. Her daughter challenges her to go white-water rafting. Kate's reluctant but her friends make a pact that if she does this, each of them will also do something challenging as well. The catch is that Kate gets to choose what that is to be for each of her friends. We don't get to know the women as much as we'd like to but we get a little slice of her life as each goes through her own challenge.
I knew bits and pieces of these women and felt comfortable with them. Some had parts of me, some of friends and some of family. Two of the women are sisters, though far apart in age and very different people. One is covered with tattoos, the other not. I found their stories really caught my attention because I always found tattoos a little fascinating. Not enough to get one myself, at least not yet, but fascinating all the same. Long ago, when I was at a conservative Jesuit university, I met a guy who had not one, but three tattoos. I can't remember two of them but I do remember the shooting stars. We only got to know each other for a brief period of time but he was fascinating to me because he was so different from the other students I knew and I still remember that chest tattoo with fondness. These days, I have a number of young friends who have tattoos. One young gal has multiple tattoos which are quite extensive and very personal to her. She even has her family crest/brand on the back of her neck. Perhaps that's a Montana thing. I found in reading this story that I understood her reasoning a little more than I had when I first saw them.
Each of us finds what resonates with us when we read a book. The sisters spoke to me. My hope is that you enjoy my offering of this cup of afternoon tea. I’ll be interested in hearing what you think.
Today was the first of two days of the Northwest Bookfest in Kirkland. The weather was not kind and there weren't many people when I walked through it. I felt bad for the authors who were there but I did my best to buy what I could...a couple of murder mystery novels, a book about owls and elves, a paranormal love story geared towards young adults and of course, a WWII book for my Dad. Don't know if there are any to recommend yet but I'll have fun finding out.