Love and Hunger is by Charlotte Wood, who is a well known writer of fiction with some very good novels under her belt. She is also a keen cook and has had a food blog for some time called howtoshuckanoyster where she posts recipes and her thoughts on food. Her latest blog post is on being a dinner party guest, how to be a good one and pitfalls to avoid.
Love and hunger has chapters that cover why Charlotte enjoys cooking and sharing food, food fashions, musings on different aspects of food culture as well as plenty of recipes. One surprise to me was that Charlotte rarely uses butter. She keeps some in the freezer for the times when she needs it, but doesn’t use butter as a matter of course. My life would be much the poorer without butter, but maybe that partly explains why Charlotte is slim and I am not.
There is a chapter about picky eaters and phobia’s and another where Charlotte confronts something she was not comfortable with, offal. I dislike offal intensely, but her thoughtful words on the subject were very interesting, as well as entertaining. I am still not, and never will be an offal fan though, her writing isn’t THAT good.
Love and Hunger would be the perfect book for someone who is interested in food, but for whom you don’t necessarily want to give another cookbook. $30
If I had only three words to describe Paddy O’Reilly’s The Fine Colour of Rust, they would be warm, witty and wise. The tone is wry and while it has it’s laugh out loud moments, Loretta who is a single mum with two children living in a dusty town called Gunapan, is fighting battles on various fronts. She is trying to protect her children from her hopeless ex, save the school, find a real man amongst her fantasies and not give in to the urge to dump the kids at the orphanage.
Norm, an older neighbour who has been her rock since the husband left has fingers in every pie and reminds her of the basic goodness of people. But when a favourite lush green bit of bush near the town is suddenly cleared, Loretta becomes involved in finding out what dodgy dealings have been going on. This involves another ill-fated committee, and anyone who has ever served on a committee will recognise the participants. There is the firebrand, the organiser, the pessimist, the optimist and those who are there just to eat the biscuits. All SO familiar.
The book is deceptive in that it manages to cover so many ‘issues’ but with such a light touch that you never feel preached to. Apart from no-good husbands and corrupt councillors there is school bullying, refugees, illness and death and petty crime. All in a small town struggling to survive.
The book is an absolute delight. Highly Recommended. $25
Jodie Garrow has a very carefully constructed and controlled life. She is married to Angus, a successful solicitor and has two children. She dresses well, has the right friends, plays tennis and all is safe. Until her daughter Hannah breaks her leg while on an unauthorised escape from school and is taken to a small hospital for her treatment. The same hospital where Jodie was a patient many years before while young and frightened. Unluckily for her, a nurse makes a connection because of a minor genetic abnormality in Hannah and Jodie’s world starts unravelling.
The role of the media gets a serious run in this story, and it is interesting to look at just how a news item can become a juggernaut with far reaching consequences. I’m being a bit cryptic because it would be easy to spoil the ending, but there are really no right or wrong answers to Jodie’s predicament. Her ‘friends’ take sides and her life will be changed. The book is quite thought provoking, and a good read. Paperback, $29.95