It’s good Adam does regular checkpoints, great prompt to finally review the books I have read so far for this challenge.
Thomas Jefferson’s Crème brûlée:
How a Founding father and his slave James Hemings introduced French cuisine to America, by Thomas J. Craughwell
Nonfiction/History/Food and drink
Published September 18th 2012 by Quirk Books (first published January 1st 2012)
Not sure why I waited ten years to read this. I got it, then got rid of it, and another copy mysteriously showed up on my shelf.
I really enjoyed the writing, the description of what people were eating and drinking at the time, both in the US and in France. I learned a lot about the origin of some dishes.
There’s obviously mention of historical events in both countries (the French Revolution for instance).
I visited Monticello fairly recently, so it was neat to read about his amazing (vegetable) gardens.
My only problem with the book is the subtitle. Note that crème brûlée in the title is correctly written with the correct French accents!
But the book actually does not have about James Hemings’ years in Paris. There are a few things, but I was expecting many more details.
Still, there are several fascinating points about slavery, and the non existence of slavery in France at the time.
The author helps us understand that Jefferson treated his slaves so much better than most owners: good salary (for instance when James was in France with him), buying their produce, encouraging them to learn to read (a possible cause of death for slaves in many other households at the time in Southern US), and actually freeing hundreds of them.
The book included pictures of original documents, for instance French recipes written by hand by James Hemings.
Le Voyage d’Octavio,
by Miguel Bonnefoy
Literary fiction/Magical realism
First published January 7th 2015
Translated in English as
Octavio’s Journey, by Emily Boyce
Another book that has been for too long on my bookshelf.
This is the delightful portrait of a both simple (illiterate even at first) and sophisticated man (a real artist) in Venezuela.
I really loved discovering more of Venezuela through his eyes. It’s the story of his journey, bother inner and exterior, the people he met, and what he did to survive.
The text is very simple but almost poetic at the same time.
The very last pages are very powerful and witness to the ultimate transformation of Octavio. I had never read anything by Miguel Bonnefoy, I’ll definitely need to try another of his books.
A Raisin in the Sun,
by Lorraine Hansberry
Published in 1959
Wow, I was totally stunned by this play, which obviously I should have read years ago.
I’m amazed that a very young African-American woman would have written that in the late 1950s. That was gutsy and so well done.
Admirable portrait of life for Black families in South Side Chicago after WWII, and what may happen to your dreams when you are coming from a minority background.
I like the ambiguous ending, which could point to finally getting closer to your dream, but with the assurance that you will need to fight further to really reach them, if ever.
by E. B. White
Published in 1945
I didn’t grow up in an English speaking country, and only very recently did I read and adore Charlotte’s Web and The Trumpet of the Swan.
So it was fun to discover now Stuart Little, a strange tiny mouse born to humans. This is the cause for many tough situations, but also opportunities for all kinds of discoveries.
And his friendship with a bird will start him on a life journey of adventures.
This is a delightful coming of age story, full of fun and wisdom. Without ever giving you the impression of teaching you.
Really a very gifted author.
Has anyone here ever read his Essays?
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Here is my full list for this challenge:
- Thomas Jefferson’s Crème brûlée: How a Founding father and his slave James Hemings introduced French cuisine to America, by Thomas J. Craughwell 6/12/22
- Le Voyage d’Octavio, by Miguel Bonnefoy 5/22/22
- A Raisin in the Sun, by Lorraine Hansberry 5/21/22
- Stuart Little, by E.B. White 5/18
- The First Men in the Moon by H.G. Wells
- Eventide, by Kent Haruf
- The Daughter of Time, by Josephine Tey
- Ensemble, c’est tout, by Anna Gavalda
- Wanderlust: A History of Walking, by Rebecca Solnit
- Absolutely on Music: Conversations with Seiji Ozawa, by Haruki Murakami
- Arvo Pärt: Out of Silence, by Peter C. Bouteneff
- A is For Alibi, by Sue Grafton
11. Joie de Vivre: Secrets of Wining, Dining, and Romancing Like the French, by Harriett Welty Rochefort
12. The Discovery of France: A Historical Geography, by Graham Robb
HOW ARE YOU DOING SO FAR WITH YOUR CHALLENGES?