Saturday, June 25, 2011

by Amy Finley

Back in 2007, Amy Finley sent in an audition tape for season three of The Next Food Network Star totally on a whim. She was a professional cook and stayed home with the kids while her husband worked. Amy thought her life was mundane and decided to try something different. She was stunned when she won but only did six shows and then walked away from it. Why? Her French husband, Greg, was not happy and didn't want her to do this in the first place because of the celebrity status and their life being open to prying eyes. He wants her home with the children and their marriage falters. So, to revive and reunite, Amy suggests they move everyone to France (that is where, after all, she and Greg first met). Ironically, he is the one who paid for her cooking classes from hard-earned money.
They live in the Burgundy region in an old farmhouse and food, of course, is the central theme. Traveling all over rural France savoring the known specialties of the different regions, you salivate with every bite. Upon their return to their rustic abode, Amy cooks what she ate on their adventures.
Amy's writing is terrific. Besides talking about the cuisine, she describes the towns, the history, the people and how the way of life that used to be is disappearing. Modernization is taking over (one store, called Picard, sells only frozen food), raw cheese is falling by the wayside with the old-timers hanging up their aprons and retiring, many products are not even produced in France and are now being imported (aghast!) from China and elsewhere and restaurants that used to be creme de la creme are now only mediocre with indifferent waitstaff.
If you're a foodie, you'll love diving in. There are no exact recipes printed but Amy describes how she prepares the cuisine so that you get the gist of what to do.
Absolutely delicious and a wonderful read.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

by Dean Faulkner Wells

She came from a family of murderers, racists, thieves and liars. Sprinkled in that midst was an FBI agent, a president of a bank, a builder of a narrow gauge railroad, a lawyer, authors and four pilots (all brothers). They were all bred in Mississippi. The most famous relative was William Faulkner, the author's uncle. He always tried to keep the family together by hosting gatherings at his home. As is obvious from the first sentence, they didn't get along too well with one another. They couldn't even agree on the spelling of their last name: Falkner, Faulkner, or Fa(u)lkner.
Dean Faulkner Wells never knew her father. He died four months before she was born in a plane crash. She was named for him. The oldest brother, William, took on the responsibility of helping to raise his niece. "Pappy" would give her security, love, emotional stability and much wisdom.
Every Day by the Sun is a marvelous story. Writing is most definitely in the genes. Not having known much about the Faulkner family (they kept to themselves and protected their privacy), in this book you are given a wide glimpse into what made them tick.
There are two family trees printed at the beginning and the author pretty much covers all of the main characters and their fascinating history. Although William Faulkner is the one individual people are the most interested in (besides his many novels for which he won a Nobel Prize, he also was a screenwriter for MGM), the rest of the gang are equally entertaining.
The book is sad, funny and a delight to read.
Highly recommended.