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By Elizabeth Gilbert
$28.95 Viking

From Elizabeth Gilbert, best-selling author of EAT, PRAY, LOVE, comes her first novel in 13 years, THE SIGNATURE OF ALL THINGS, an extraordinary story of one woman’s thirst for knowledge and longing for love in the age of Enlightenment.

Alma Whittaker is a woman who knows her own mind. Born at the turn of the nineteenth century in Philadelphia to Henry, a self-made pharmaceutical magnate from England and Beatrix, a brilliant Dutch Botanist from an esteemed family, Alma is nothing if not the offspring of her gifted parents. But as she grows into womanhood, it becomes quite clear that she will never be a great beauty as she is tall, broad shouldered and plain. Undeterred by these facts, she turns her attentions to the study of all things, reading every book she can get her hands on, which is not difficult considering the library at White Acre, her family’s estate, rivals that of any in the world. Excelling in Botany, Alma becomes the foremost expert on mosses and eventually, she also becomes the most trusted person in her wilful father’s life, dividing her time between her studies and the running of his global empire. But when she falls in love with Ambrose Pike, a gifted artist and free-spirit, all bets are off and her life takes a number of dramatic turns which sees her traveling around the world to places as far-flung as Tahiti and The Netherlands.

Gilbert has outdone herself with this impossibly-well-researched and beautifully written novel and it would seem that she knows a little bit about a lot of things, making her every bit as much of a renaissance woman as is her well-drawn, fascinating heroine. Ms. Gilbert’s flair for writing from a nineteenth century point of view while maintaining the insouciant and ironic voice of the modern age kept me marveling sentence  after glorious sentence and if you think I’m gushing here, you would probably be right. But I feel certain that you will feel the same from the moment you pick up this incredible book until long after you have devoured the final page. A must read!

BRIDGET JONES Mad About the BoyBRIDGET JONES Mad About the Boy

By Helen Fielding

$26.95 Knopf

She’s baaack! After 16 years, best-selling author Helen Fielding has revived one of modern literature’s most iconic, cheeky women and delivered her to us once again in her latest novel BRIDGET JONES Mad About The Boy.

When we last left Ms. Jones, it was 1997 and she had finally landed Mark Darcy, the man of her dreams and many awkward childhood memories. Now, it’s 2012 and we find Bridget still up to her old tricks: wallowing in self-doubt while simultaneously making majestic plans. At 51 years of age, our heroine is a widowed mother of two, living in London and hanging out with the old gang, Jude, Tom and Talitha. Daniel, her former boss and one-time lover is now the Godfather of her children, although he hasn’t lost even one of his licentious stripes. But Bridget has not returned to his arms, despite the fact that she is ready to get back in the dating game after five years of mourning.

As her well-meaning friends encourage her to get out there again, Bridget acquiesces by leaping into the fray which now includes tweeting, texting and on-line dating. And as she tries to conquer this new minefield of technology, she finds herself having sex with a man nearly half her age, writing a screenplay about Hedda Gabler and trying to figure out how to be a single mother in an ever-more-complex world. Of course, we are still privy to her regular daily accounting which includes her caloric and alcohol intake, unintended faux-pas, her weight, mental-state and other assorted statistics. But Bridget would not be Bridget were it not for the fact that her wildest schemes turn out to be the very things that work for her, keeping her thrumming along, not only within the confines of her head but also, on-line for all-the-world to see.

Hilarious from the word go, Fielding is in rare form once again, delivering Bridget Jones to the masses in all her unabashed glory. Un-put-downable, this is a book that will keep you up way past your bed time; a guilty pleasure that was well worth the wait!

 THE FOUNDING FARMERS COOKBOOK 100 Recipes for True Food and Drink from the Restaurant Owned by American Family FarmersTHE FOUNDING FARMERS COOKBOOK 100 Recipes for True Food and Drink from the Restaurant Owned by American Family Farmers

By Founding Farmers with Nevin Martell

$40.00 Andrews McNeel Publishing

There is nothing better than eating fresh-from-the farm produce, which is prepared and served with love at a reasonable price from a sustainable, eco-friendly company. The owners of  the Founding Farmer’s restaurant in Washington D.C. do all that and more, making this eatery, which opened in 2008 just blocks from The White House, one of the most popular venues in the country. But fear not! Even if you don’t have the time or where-with-all to sample the “true food and drink” served at their restaurant, you can still enjoy a bounty of dishes created by the Founding Farmers in the comfort of your own home with their first ever collection of recipes, THE FOUNDING FARMERS COOKBOOK.

Starting with the basics, which gives you a roadmap to the tools and essentials you’ll need for the bulk of recipes in this great book, Chapter One, “Pickles, Seasonings and Sauces” gets your mouth ready to embrace all the pizazz and range of flavors you’ll find on every page. Then it’s time to begin chowin’ down with Chapter Two, “Starters and Snacks” which includes recipes for everything from “Oven Roasted Cracked Black Pepper Wings” to “Fried Green Tomatoes”. From there, we are off and running with a plentiful variety of recipes for dishes ranging from “Garden Fresh Salads” to “Fresh Catches,” and  “Handmade Pasta”. The “Seven Cheese Mac and Cheese” had me at hello, as did recipes for “Slow Braised Beef Short Ribs”, “Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts” and “Low Country Shrimp and Grits”. And of course, where would we be without the sweet stuff like “Chocolate Cream Pie” “Peach, Blueberry Crisp” and “Uncle Buck’s Beignets” to finish our great meal with a flavorful flair?

All in all, this fabulous cookbook has a little something for everyone. Peppered throughout with beautiful, rustic-looking photos of each and every dish, the book also features shopping and cooking tips, as well as a handy-dandy Metric Conversion Table. And the Founding Farmers organization is so grounded in the sustainability movement that even their cookbook is green, printed on Forest Stewardship Council-certified paper with eco-friendly soy inks. Proceeds from sales of the book go to various nonprofit organizations, rounding out an unbeatable concept in the foodie movement that’s now become accessible to one and all.


By Leigh Gallagher

249 pages Portfolio/Penguin

Where once, Americans fled the inner cities in droves for a better life in the suburbs, now it seems that trend has begun to do a 180. This is due to many factors which include the recent recession and rising gas prices. But add to that the fact that Millennials are drawn to the type of lifestyle and sense of community that city living brings and you begin to get an idea as to why this shift is happening. Still, there’s more to this “New Urbanism” than meets the eye and Leigh Gallagher, Assistant Managing Editor of Fortune Magazine lays it all out for us in her new book, THE END OF THE SUBURBS.

Drawing on a wealth of historical documentation, Gallagher spins a tale of the American Dream post World War II and up to the present day, wherein a combination of factors such as an emerging middle class and the affordability of both cars and gasoline made fleeing the cities and setting up shop in spacious single-family homes the norm. But as the housing-bubble burst and our commutes have become longer and less affordable, we have been forced to reevaluate our living situations and the trend towards walkable urban development has taken on legs. And so suddenly, it seems, families and singles alike are embracing a change of scene which is “impacting not just where Americans want to live but how we want to live.”

Written in a conversational style, THE END OF THE SUBURBS is compelling, accessible and understandable. A fascinating look at the way the way we live, work and socialize, this well-researched book is as interesting as it is informative. Hands down, a great read. / Issue 154 - September 2018
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