The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka is a novel that tells the story of a group of young women brought over from Japan to San Francisco as ‘picture brides’ nearly a century ago. In eight sections, the collective first-person narrator traces their extraordinary lives, from their difficult journey by boat, where they exchange photographs of their husbands, imagining uncertain futures in an unknown land; to their arrival in San Francisco and their first nights as new wives; to their backbreaking work picking fruit in the fields and scrubbing the floors of white women; to their struggles to master a new language and a new culture; to their experiences in childbirth, and then as mothers, raising children who will ultimately reject their heritage and their history; to the arrival of war. This story makes a good companion read to Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, telling a similar story from the Japanese, rather than Chinese point of view.
From the opening words “The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not” I was hooked. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night. But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood for this purpose by their mentors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for them to do battle with their powerful, but complimentary magic. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco fall headfirst into a deep, magical love but will they be able to overcome the curse that surrounds them?
When I’m not reading fiction I turn to cookbooks! With the holidays fast approaching I couldn’t resist a new Thanksgiving cookbook. This book explores more than fifty favorite holiday recipes, offering both traditional and contemporary dishes. Each chapter explores a different part of the Thanksgiving feast, from starters to desserts and everything in between. None of the recipes caught my interest though despite being beautifully illustrated. Tips for staying organized; selecting, preparing, and carving the turkey; putting together a menu—complete with a work plan will help the novice cook get through the holiday with a little less stress.
Kitchen Daughter by Jael McHenry
After the unexpected death of her parents, shy and sheltered 26-year-old Ginny Selvaggio seeks comfort in cooking from family recipes. But the rich, peppery scent of her Nonna’s soup draws an unexpected visitor into the kitchen–the ghost of Nonna herself, dead for twenty years, who appears with a cryptic warning (“do no let her…”) before vanishing.
A haunted kitchen isn’t Ginny’s only challenge. Her domineering sister, Amanda, insists on selling their parents’ house despite Ginny’s reluctance. It turns out she’s gone undiagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome just like her father, a successful surgeon. The story is a little slow-moving but I stuck it out just see if the sisters could resolve their differences As she packs up her parents’ belongings, Ginny finds evidence of family secrets and the more she learns, the more she realizes the keys to these riddles lie with the dead. There’s only one way to get answers she seeks: cook from dead people’s recipes, raise their ghosts, and ask them. Hand-written recipes are included in the beginning of some chapters.