If you have ever tasted French macaroons you will not forget their delicate form and taste. They seems so unsubstantial, light, fluffy, little nothingIf you have ever tasted French macaroons you will not forget their delicate form and taste. They seems so unsubstantial, light, fluffy, little nothings, yet tremendous amount of precise and careful work goes into them. It's not a desert you can whip up on a whim. To me Zelda, The Queen of Paris is such a delightful and tasty read comparable to a beautiful macaroon. It's a slight and easy read, that reads in one sitting, fluffy and light on the surface, yet it came about out of a very specific state of mind and life that followed. In essence Paul Chutkow has written an ode to a beautifully lived life in which love, joy and care have been indispensable, required ingredients.
Zelda, a street dog, became part of the author's family when he worked in assignment in India. Against the advice of almost everybody, the author chose to give the little dog some medical care and eventually adopted her and took her with him when the family moved from India to Paris and later to California.
The skeptical taxi driver who became a friend, while observing the author's dilema, expressed it very well saying: "Life, Sahib, it is a great mystery. All we can do is follow our heart".
Reading about the adventures involving Zelda is very amusing and entertaining thanks to Chutkow's unassuming writing style full of humour and thanks to his attitude to life which can only be described as open minded and mindful. I also loved the drawings by J.C. Suares, whimsical and a little nostalgic, they reminded me of the books read in childhood, the ones that are so endearing to read and loved by adults as well as children.
The author's joie de vivre is contagious, so if you love dogs and are looking for something to lift your spirits, reach for this little book.
Some people go from child to teen, then adult and older adult stage without looking back. At every stage they act their age and move on. But as MadeleSome people go from child to teen, then adult and older adult stage without looking back. At every stage they act their age and move on. But as Madeleine L’Engle said “The great think about getting older is that you don’t lose all other ages you’ve been”. I can relate to that.
I noticed somewhere here on Good Reads people confessing to reading teen fiction. Well I should join the group.
My inner teenager craves laugh out loud teen fiction particularly those books written in the tradition of Mark Twain (Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn) or L. M. Montgomery (Anne of Green Gables) featuring quirky misfits getting into all kinds of trouble.
Susan Juby is one of many authors of such fiction. I absolutely loved her Alice series.
Juby, along with (no particular order) Frank Portman (Andromeda Klein, King Dork), Rob Thomas (Rats Saw God), Marcus Zusak (I Am the Messenger), Barry Jonsberg (The Crimes and Punishments of Miss Payne), Louise Rennison (Georgia Nicolson series), David Lubar (Dunk, Sleeping freshmen never lie), Ranulfo (Joker), Megan McCafferty (Sloppy First, and the other titles) is on my list of favourite authors. Authors of books that entertain while providing a great story and interesting characters.
Now The Woefiled Poultry Collective is not exactly a teen book, but it does have a youthful feel. Along with the main character (Prudence, in her twenties) it features a selection of funny characters of all ages, from 11 year-old Sara competing in a poultry club at school, to perhaps not quite twenty year-old Set and to 60+ not quite farm hand Earl.
I knew I needed to read this book when I read the following statement by the author in some interview:
“I’ve always wanted to be self-sustaining and able to grow my own food. All I lack is land and skill.”
I thought: how clever. She doesn’t have a farm but dreams of one, therefore she decides to write a piece of fiction about farming life. I immediately wanted to participate in the experience. Living vicariously is what I do.
Prudence, Earl, Seth and Sara form a very unlikely community of friends who individually and collectively face some really big challenges and together go through some serious upheavals and tribulations. They instinctively know that their strength lies in sticking together and learning to overlook each other many frailties.
As the eleven year-old Sara wonderfully states: “It’s important to give people the benefit of the doubt even if they don’t deserve it.” And they do.
The plot culminates with a huge and messy bluegrass concert Prudence organizes in order to save the farm. The grand finale features long lost family members' reunion as well as romantic reconciliation and much more. With the emotions and hilarity running absolutely rampant, it is a wonderful, heartfelt and heartwarming, laugh out loud book about very serious matters. If you followed Susan Juby’s writing you will know that she writes from much felt experience.
Make sure you don’t read it The Woefield Poultry Collective on public transit unless you don’t mind people staring at you when you burst into uncontrollable fits of laughter.
And I am so glad I still have one more Susan Juby's book left unread.
p.s. As you may have noticed the title of my edition of this book differs from the one listed here on Good Reads....more
I loved L'Auberge. This is your typical sweet, heart warming, well written, laugh out loud fiction. Nothing wrong with that on the contrary, it providI loved L'Auberge. This is your typical sweet, heart warming, well written, laugh out loud fiction. Nothing wrong with that on the contrary, it provides a few hours of laughter and entertainment. And having encountered French bureaucracy, I dare say it does capture the funny side of the French. All of the characters are lovable or funny, even the villains. As for French cooking there is a part where someone mentions a great French chef Jamio Le Vert whose food is the best. Well, guess what, it turns out that it is... Jamie Oliver.
According to her website, Julia Stagg does live in France, does or did run a restaurant there and clearly speaks from her experience. On her website she has advertised a talk entitled From Reality to Fiction: How Life in France Turned into a Novel. The talk will be accompanied by apéritifs and lunch. I wish I could attend.
And I am absolutely looking forward to the sequel, the second of the Fogas Chronicles The Parisian's Return that is scheduled to be published in spring 2012....more