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Peaches for Monsieur Le CurePEACHES FOR MONSIEUR LE CURÉ
By Joanne Harris
$16.00 Penguin
www.joanne-harris.co.uk

From author Joanne Harris comes her latest novel, PEACHES FOR MONSIEUR LE CURÉ, the sequel to her best-selling book, CHOCLAT.

It’s been eight years since Vianne Rocher has set foot in the small French town of Lansquenet where she and her young daughter once blew in on a strange wind to set up a chocolate shop. Ever since she was a small child traveling the world with her mother, Vianne has been led by the song of the winds which whisper their magic to her. Now, living on a houseboat in Paris with a gypsy named Roux who figured prominently into her former life in Lansquenet, she has built a life for herself with her two daughters, Anouk who is now 15 and Rosette who is eight and fathered by Roux. Vianne feels settled and happy, two things she never thought she would achieve, but when she receives a letter from beyond the grave summoning her back to Lansquenet she feels she has no choice but to return.

Greeted by both dear friends and old adversaries, Vianne is surprised to find that not much has changed in the sleepy village other than the fact that the once meager Moroccan population of the sleepy hamlet has grown exponentially. Father Reynaud, who gave her nothing but grief last time around is still in rare form and is now locked in a battle of wills between the Catholic residents of Lansquenet and the Moroccans whose Muslim traditions have set them apart from the rest of the town. In addition, Vianne comes to find that her one-time best friend, Josephine, has a complicated and secret relationship with Roux which leaves her feeling restless and troubled. And as the rift between the Catholic and Muslim factions begin to grow, Vianne must trust the magic that has always carried her through, to work for her once more.

Enchanting and engrossing, this wonderful novel will keep you glued to the page. If you loved these characters the first time around, you cannot help but be delighted to find them working their magic once again. But even if you didn’t get a chance to read CHOCOLATE or see the movie based on this book, you are sure to be drawn in to Vianne’s world in this beautifully written, suspenseful and dramatic sequel.

HEAVEN AND EARTH Timeless Prayers of Wisdom and Love By Stephanie DowrickHEAVEN AND EARTH Timeless Prayers of Wisdom and Love
By Stephanie Dowrick
$16.95 Tarcher
www.stephaniedowrick.com

The other day I was having a discussion about God with a friend of mine and I asked her thoughts about whether or not worshipping on just the “big” days of the year can satisfy one’s spiritual connection. “I think God wants to hear from us every day,” she answered. And I realized that there was a lot of power in that simple truth. So I found it quite interesting that award-winning author Stephanie Dowrick echoes this very sentiment about prayer in her new book HEAVEN AND EARTH, wherein she introduces us to the concept of incorporating prayer into our daily lives.

In this marvelous collection, Dowrick, who is also a trained psychotherapist, spiritual leader and teacher explains how prayer can open us up to new ideas about the world around us and how prayer is not only about speaking but also about listening to the silence spaces wherein the answers reside. She explains, “We often think of prayer as something that we do (or ought to do if only we had the time). Yet prayer gives itself to us. It creates time as it renews us. It reminds us that we are not alone. It soothes us. It can certainly inspire us.”

Not only does Dowrick regale us with traditional prayers here but there are also prayers from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Emily Bronte and Lao-Tzu as well as quotes and prayers that are more like poems. In addition, she educates and informs us about prayer and the many forms it can take. Included here you’ll also find prayers for celebrations, for gratitude and for healing as well as many other themes. This diverse collection of prayers, combined with Dowrick’s personal observations about prayer and how it affects her everyday life is quite wonderful, making for a book that is well worth having. One of my favorite passages speaks about prayer in such a simple yet fundamental way that it drew me in with both its straightforwardness and its strength:

Prayer cannot bring water to parched field,
mend a broken bridge, or rebuild a broken city,
but prayer can water an arid soul,
mend a broken heart,
and rebuild a weakened will.

                    -Rabbi Abraham Joshua Hershel


THE ART FORGER By B.A. ShapiroTHE ART FORGER
By B.A. Shapiro
$14.95 Algonquin
www.algonquin.com

If you love a good crime novel and also happen to be a fan of the art world then THE ART FORGER, the story of art theft, love and good intentions gone bad, is the book for you. Author B.A. Shapiro has hit a homerun here, as this book is not only a New York Times Bestseller but was also ranked as the #1 Indie Next Pick and The Boston Globe’s Best Crime Book of 2013.

It’s has been 25 years since the infamous art heist at the Isabella Gardner Museum in Boston and without warning, one of the stolen paintings, a Degas, ends up in the hands of artist Claire Roth. A talented painter in her own right, Claire makes her living legally copying masterpieces for a company which mass-markets these copies to the general public. So when a powerful gallery owner presents her with the stolen Degas asking her to make a forgery of the missing work in exchange for a show of her own at his gallery she is torn. But because his stipulations secure her anonymity and include a bargain to return the original painting to the museum after the forgery has been passed off to a buyer as the real deal, she accepts the offer.

As the plot thickens, Claire’s ties to the gallery owner change course, plunging her into a romantic relationship with him. But Claire has an infamous past in the small yet prestigious Boston art world which she has clearly not escaped and as the past and present situations in which she’s embroiled begin running along parallel lines, it’s anybody’s guess what will happen next.

Shapiro writes with passion, knowledge and emotional depth that keeps the reader breathless with anticipation. As entertaining as it is educational, this unforgettable story will open your eyes to the multi-layered facets of the art world through which these characters romp. This is one you’ll definitely want to pass along to everyone you know.

HENRI, LE CHAT NOIR The Existential Musings of an Angst Filled Cat By William BradenHENRI, LE CHAT NOIR The Existential Musings of an Angst Filled Cat
By William Braden
$12.99 Ten Speed Press
www.tenspeedpress.com

If you are a fan of YouTube videos featuring cats doing adorable things then perhaps you have run across the series of shorts produced by William Braden in “Film Noir” style and featuring Henri, le Chat Noir, the tuxedo cat who espouses angst filled musings on everything from his empty food dish to visits with the vet. Accompanied by a French voiceover and English subtitles, these vignettes provide an incredibly funny view of the world from Henri’s unhappy perspective. One of my particular favorites is titled “Paw de Deux” but there are several others in the series that are equally as hilarious. And now, in addition to these wonderful little filmed treasures you can possess another little treasure that mirrors the shorts: a small coffee-table book HENRI, LE CHAT NOIR The Existential Musings of an Angst Filled Cat.

Filled with beautiful black-and-white photos which capture Henri in a variety of situations, the accompanying text carries on in the “Film Noir” tradition wherein Henri muses, (or should I say meowses) about the injustices of life. “As a kitten I was filled with boundless wonder and an endless need to know more about the world. I soon discovered the true nature of our existence, and saw it for the cruel and arbitrary prison it is. Also, I grew into my ears.” Henri has much to say about the other cat who resides in his house, always referring to him as “the white imbecile” and saying things like “The white imbecile proves that vacant minds sleep the most soundly.” Of course, a photo of the cat in question is displayed on the opposing page, giving you a visual that will make you scream with laughter.

All in all, Henri is nothing if not a reflection of the angst that resides deep within us all. For this existential cat philosopher, however, the angst is never ending. A fun little book to have and to share with your friends or perhaps, an angst-filled cat that calls your house, home.


www.Dishmag.com / Issue 151 - September 2018
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