Discussion in 'Chit Chat' started by Cromwell, May 25, 2008.

  1. Cromwell

    Cromwell New Member

    hI GUYS. fOR THOSE OF YOU WHO GOT TO READ THIS BOOk written by RN Jeanne Ray, I would like to open the discussion with an overview of her domestic situation:

    The heroine (name??? no longer have my copy!!!) is told that her husband has lost his job as a hospital administrator, with nothing on the hoizon due to his age etc. to replace it. Sharing their home in Baltimore (was it?) is her pushy spearted for years from dad mother and her sulky teen daughter. Son is away at college.

    She is very stressed and when she gets too stressed she relaxes by baking exotic cakes often in the middle of the night (the recipes are included).

    Then she gets a message saying that her dad, who is an irresponsible drifter/piano player has been involved in an accident and has to come and stay with her (he is also broke) it seems as if her life could not get worse,but she solves the probvlem by going into the cake business and eventually the whole family rally round to help.

    The dad has both his arms in plaster casts so his ex wife has to help him do everyday things like bathroom etc and a romance redevelops. Throughout all this she is baking and wearing the reader out with her energy.

    Questions: Do you think the dad was funnyily portrayed? I did, I could visualise the whole scatty scenes, Rock didn't.

    Did you think it was realistic that the cakes would sell, and for so much money?

    Were you annoyed with the husband for being a bit of a wet leaf?

    Did you see the heronine as a strong or weak person?

    Who do you think the really strong person was?

    That's it-I no longer have this book and read it a while back so bear with me.... Annie
  2. rockgor

    rockgor Well-Known Member

    The name of the heroine, Annie, was Scarlett, and she was living on a plantation named, No, wait! That's some other book.

    The name of the heroine doesn't matter anyway. I got turned off early on when she said she wished she were safe and secure in the middle of a bundt cake. I thought, this sounds schizophrenic and totally unbelievable.

    However, I enjoyed (mildly) the rest of the book. I thought the main character was very strong and also patient. I would have been looking for a rolling pin to pound some sense and manners into some of the other characters.

    I was not amused by the charming dad who was irresponsible, selfish and completely indifferent to the needs of his family. I think he deserved to have his loud pedal foot broken too.

    Yes, I was surprised at the cost of the cakes; both the retail and wholesale prices seem extravagant to me. Can you tell I don't dine out much?

    I read two other books by Jeanne Ray: "Julie and Romeo" and "Step-Ball Change." I liked the last one best altho I think all her books are fantasy rather than serious novels.

    She has a new book out called "Julie and Romeo Get Lucky".

    If you go to the above site you can read an interview w/ the author.

    Turns out she was 60 when she wrote her first book. Her daughter is also a novelist, award-winner Ann Patchett who helped her mother polish the writing. Ann's big book was "Bel Canto" which means "beautiful singing" in Italian.

    It also refers to a style of opera that died out in the middle of the 19th century. It is no longer written, but the old operas are still sung. Not many people are willing to pay money to listen to modern operas.

    Have to see if I can get a Patchett book from the goofy LA Library system. The LA Library has over 70 branches. Several years ago they closed several branches for lack of funds. Then they built a new branch 3 blocks from me. Now they are building a new branch a mile away.

    All looks mighty suspicious to me. Meanwhile the city claims to be $400,000,000 in debt.

    This teaches us that everything in life is related to everything else: books, cakes, opera and politics included.

    Nice job, Annie


  3. Cromwell

    Cromwell New Member

    Thanks for your comments....I agree with some, though not all. The dad I felt was responsible but he was shown for the character he really was, even though he had a good side tucked away. It was the daughter's descriptions of him I found so funny, rather than the character himself.

    I did know she was the mum of the other author. I did read StepBall dance which gave a glimpse of how high society manages to spend its money for show.

    Thanks for all the information and links.

    Love Annie just going to post for Ken who is right in the tornado country right now.
  4. kholmes

    kholmes New Member

    It's nice to have guest discussion leaders.

    Too tired to jump in the discussion tonight. But I enjoyed the book (a lot more than Rock did, it sounds like!) and will post more tomorrow.

    Hope everyone is having a good Memorial Day weekend.
  5. Rosiebud

    Rosiebud New Member

    I was in need of some light reading.

    The Dad - well don't artistic people always get a licence to behave badly and he certainly did, but he was very likeable and funny too.

    I thought the heroine was the strongest character, I'd never be able to stay in a house with all those people. She kept them all together, sane (ish) and even rescued them financially.

    I dont understand why she didnt just confront her husband with her thoughts that he was going to leave her - I'd never be able to keep my mouth shut if I thought my husband was planning to go.

    The price of the cakes - I could never imagine anyone paying for cakes at that price - in fact you can buy 9 little fancy tea cakes with icing, all in a beautiful box for £17 here and I think that is terribly expensive. Sent to you by post from London. I digress.

    I thought the author was much younger than she actually is, I think everyone is much younger except for myself.

    All in all, a great read and I will read her other books too.


  6. rockgor

    rockgor Well-Known Member

    Nice to hear from you Rosie. In the ideal world, everyone would be younger than everyone else.

    Annie, I am reading the blizzard book. Every time I read about the pioneers, I think: Lordy, they were tough!

    Your alma mater is mentioned, Ken. One of the participants is William Payne, "Professor of mathematics and natural philosophy at the fledgling Carleton College in Northfield".

    He started at Carleton in 1871, so he may have been present during the James gang robbery.

    I have started reading another book: The Funsters by James Robert Parish, et. al. It's about movie comics, from the famous to the not-so-famous anymore.

    The latter group would include people like ZaSu Pitts, Charlie Ruggles, Polly Moran and Judy Canova. The book is massive; over 700 pages. It feels like it weighs 20 pounds, although my scale says it's only 7.

    It should carry a warning: Only for Rugged Readers.

  7. Marta608

    Marta608 Member

    I think her books are in a genre by themselves like Lillian Jackson Braun's The Cat Who books and a few others. They must be taken with a grain of salt but do provide a switch from the thrillers. No one character is totally believable. That said, I neither liked nor disliked the book; it just was. Fiction. Oh! Right!

    I LOVE Ann Patchett's writing and I didn't know about the mother/daughter connection. Their writing is nothing alike. Thanks, Rock, for that info.

    And thank you, Annie, for stepping up to the podium for this book. I hope Ken made it safely through the storm.

  8. mollystwin

    mollystwin New Member

    I'm embarrased to say that for the first time since joining this book club that I didn't read the book!! I've been working a bit more and I'm a moderator on a new lyme board, so I haven't had as much time.

    But this book sounds good so hopefully I can get to it soon!!


    I did eat some cake this month though!!
  9. Rosiebud

    Rosiebud New Member

    Dar, great to hear that you are able to work more and are moderator on a lyme board.

    Good for you.

    This is worth a read, its entertaining and light reading - a nice change.

    Annie - thanks for taking over this month.

    [This Message was Edited on 05/26/2008]
    [This Message was Edited on 05/26/2008]
  10. kholmes

    kholmes New Member

    Mollystwin: Good for you for your moderator work on the Lyme board! I didn't know you were doing that.

    As far as EAT CAKE, I enjoyed it much like I enjoyed Fannie Flagg's books.

    I agree that the musican father was totally irresponsible, but aren't there a lot of people like that? My uncle actually broke both his arms as a kid, when he sledded into a tree, so I didn't find the two broken wrists unbelievable. I found him funny, wise, and enjoyed the catfights and then makeup between him and the grandmother, especially their duet in the hotel.

    One thing I liked about the book was the surprises some of the characters had in store, like the fact that the grandparents had never gotten a divorce years ago, or that Camille, the daughter, was so business savvy.

    The price of the cakes did seem excessively high to me. Even I were Wolfgang Puck, I'm not sure I'd pay that much for one.

    I liked the main character's mother telling the daughter, Camille, "This is not a hotel. You are sixteen years old. Get yourself out of here." And then saying, "It's all in the surprise factor." And later, the mother playing Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" so beautifully.

    I somehow expected Wyatt, the son, to show up, though he never did.

    I saw the main character as a strong person, and I did see Sam as a bit of a, what did you call him, Annie?--a bit of a "wet leaf." Though I liked the ending.
  11. mollystwin

    mollystwin New Member

    I am a moderator on a new lyme board that a lyme friend set up, not the lyme board here. Just to clarify!!!

    This does sound like a good book. I will really try to read it.

  12. kholmes

    kholmes New Member

    if the main character's escape, mental and physical, was into the world of dreaming about and making cakes, and her husband's is the world of sailboats, what is yours?

    If I'm feeling up to it, playing my guitar is a way I can meditate, de-stress, avoid problems (ha!), and just have fun. I'll play any kind of music--rock, folk, bluegrass, Celtic, blues, country, classical.
  13. kholmes

    kholmes New Member

    Oh, thanks for clarifying! Wherever you moderate, I'll bet you'll be a great one. :)

  14. Rosiebud

    Rosiebud New Member

    to reserve Anne Patchet - Bel Canto and Truth & Beauty from my library -

    they have no books of her mother though.

    My passion - I love to sing but I only do it for myself.

    There are things I enjoy but nothing I'm truly passionate about apart from singing.

  15. Cromwell

    Cromwell New Member

    Yes, I think what drew me to the main character was that she was really the strong one and also Camille the daughter was under her teen guise.

    Baking all those cakes would seem like hard work but maybe if one had a really nice kitchen!

    What do I escape into. I am writing, so I guess I escape into this. I am trying to actually finish a young teen book and actually market it. I used to like to strum the gutiar and sing, but do less and less these days. I used to love crafts and painting, but when I was designing dolls for Home Shopping Network, I got so fed up with having to do this commercially for ten years, I lost interest. I would like to take up my stained glass again. I was only a beginner, not like Carla, but did enjoy it and I love stained glass.

    I do like to read, but I think that I have to say I like to listen to the BBC radio from UK and also books on CD to relax.

    Marta, I have all of LJBrauns Cat Who books, they are so light and silly. George Guiddell does a great job reading them books on CD. Currently I have been falling asleep trying to listen to Nigel Havers read "The French L:eitentants Woman", he has such a lovely voice I fall asleep!!! If only I did not wake up ten minutes later.

    I also like to walk, and love the company of my son and husband-we are all very companionable, we play UNO together, and the "boys" play Chess.

    I intend to do more painting. Tal;king of cake our dear Italian neighbor just brought us homemade brownies. She cooked for about 20 today and these were "left over"-she always does this. So I too, "ate cake" today and may eat a little more prior to bed!!!

    Love Annie
  16. rockgor

    rockgor Well-Known Member

    Had to quite reading the blizzard book, Annie. Couldn't stand reading about the children dying in the storm.

    Just read about Fanny Brice in the massive book "The Funsters". Ken, I was horrified to read that her gangster husband Nick Arnstein was Norwegian.

    Hard to believe. It says "Norway-born Julius Wilford Arndt Stein, alias Nicky Arnstein, was a handsome, charming man w/ whom Fanny fell hopelessly in love."

    I don't know why women are always falling hopeless in love w/ charming cads. The rule is: Date 'em if you must, but don't marry 'em. Not unless you plan to be a torch singer like Fanny.

    As Gore Vidal said, "Almost any human problem could be solved if people would just listen to me."

  17. kholmes

    kholmes New Member

    Rock: A "Norwegian gangster" sounds like a bit of an oxymoron. I liked the Gore Vidal quote, too.

    Annie: That's neat that you and your husband and son enjoy doing things together. Wish I could read your YA book. Need a copy editor? (Actually, I'm half-serious about this).

  18. Cromwell

    Cromwell New Member

    Well when I get it done I may take you up on that-I should warn you I have a history of writing five or six pretty good chapters then fizzling out. I have even had two publishers interested in me at one time, only to never complete.

    Story of my li

    The above was an incomplete if anyone missed that joke.

    Rock I know what you mean. They were such innocents then, yet so hardy. Kids today are very self assured yet those pioneer kids were something else. I ended up having to skip and jump. You should reda some of the heartwrenching details in my family letters about deaths and the acceptance of it, the stoic nature of these folk. Who today, let's face it could be a settler? Most people don't have the gumption or knowledge of nature either-we may be book smart but society is common sense poor ---iloved the Gore Vidal quote too.

    Love Annie
  19. kholmes

    kholmes New Member

    I like you "lack of completion" joke.

    I hope you finish your manuscript and find a way for it to end with a bang.

  20. rockgor

    rockgor Well-Known Member

    Annie, but I didn't realize at first that it was a joke. With the glut of computer problems and brain fog here, one can never be sure.

    The "self-help" book I am reading could have used some proofreading/editing. The author makes grammatical errors and seems to think a salamander is a reptile.

    I was reading about Eve Arden in "The Funsters" book mentioned above. I recall listening to a tape of one of her old shows. Mr Boynton, the science teacher, referred to a frog as a reptile.

    Even some of the best authors have glaring errors now and then. One of my college roommates sold textbooks to schools for McMillan. He said book editors don't really edit anymore. They are called editors but are really business men; they make deals.

    Oh, here's something I've been meaning to post. It's a clipping from the village paper in LeRoy, MN (pop. 1000). Comes out once a week.

    The book club read Crisis by Robin Cook. "It reminded us of Law and Order; suspenseful w/ a surprise ending. No one guessed the ending beforehand. We learned what concierge medicine is and we can't afford it.

    "May meeting will be at Three Sisters and a Carpenter. Book selection is Amateur Marriage by Anne Tyler.

    "Please read a book this week. If you enjoy it, please let us know so we can add it to our list."

    Never heard of "Three Sisters and a Carpenter." Sounds like a medieval tavern.


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