Steinbeck and Chocolate Covered Sausages

English: A Baby Ruth candy bar split in half. ...

Since one of my book clubs is meeting to dissect Steinbeck’s Sweet Thursday, I wondered what an appropriate sweet snack might be to motivate the discussion.

Ideas from the pages:

  • The Seer gets arrested when he escalates from stealing one Baby Ruth or Mounds candy bar to three from the Safeway;
  • Elegant Joe bakes a cake with marshmallow topping;
  • Doc sprinkles chocolate over sausages.

Took the easy way – Baby Ruths and Mounds but decided to play it safe and buy them.

Julia’s Chocolates

The cover of the book shows a wedding dress hanging in a tree, but the title, Julia’s Chocolates, seduced me with chocolate – the reason I bought the book five years ago.  It’s been sitting on my shelf, waiting; I could never dispose of a book that promises chocolate – but I’d forgotten about it until a friend told me she was about to read another of Cathy Lamb’s stories.

Although Lamb delivers the promised chocolate, it’s with an intense dose of abused women and the camaradarie of unconditional friendship.   Julia Bennett escapes from her rich boyfriend on the day they are to be married, leaving behind his demeaning remarks about her appearance, and with a black eye added to his other physical abuse.  She finds a haven at her Aunt Lydia’s egg farm, hiding out with the chickens and the pigs and the toilet bowl planters in the front yard – hoping her boyfriend will not find her to seek revenge.

Through the feisty Lydia’s weekly group meetings, Julia meets a few of the local women who have their own problems.  Although Julia’s abusive past threatens to ruin her present and future life, Lamb offers many sides to abuse (some not always so obvious) through the other women in the group:  Katie, who has her own housekeeping business and four children, and supports her drunken slob of a husband; Lara, who’s bored of being the pastor’s wife and secretly wants to be an artist; Caroline, who can see into the future, especially when something dire is about to happen.  Lydia picks weekly topics that are humorous as well as affirming, and becomes the catalyst that helps the young women assert themselves.  And, of course, there’s the chocolate – and a handsome lawyer who happens to have a weekend house nearby and becomes Julia’s new love interest.

Chocolate is Julia’s savior.  She eats and bakes with chocolate for therapy, and to promote good feelings in others.  Eventually, chocolate develops into a business that saves the town, as well as Julia – but not before the horrible boyfriend reappears and tries to exact his revenge.

Lamb wraps the story with everyone living happily ever after – with each woman finding her true self, after cleansing herself of negative male influences that have kept her from fulfilling her destiny.   The cover flap connects the story to The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood – a good comparison – women coming together to support each other through the miseries and having a good time and some fun as a distraction from reality. Lamb has published three books since this one – all with themes that include women:

  • The Last Time I Was Me ( a career woman – angry and making life changes)
  • Henry’s Sisters (caring for an ailing mother, a demented grandmother, and a brother who is mentally handicapped)
  • Such a Pretty Face (a woman whose life changes more than physically after bariatric surgery).

But, her latest, has the most appeal for me – The First Day of the Rest of My Life.

Looking forward to reading it, while eating some good chocolate.  

Post Easter Blues

No wonder it didn’t feel like Easter – no plastic grass sprinkled on the rug, no colored eggs hidden in the flower-pot – no chocolate bunny ears to steal.  Just too grown up with brunch at a restaurant and an afternoon walk to wear off the mimosa.

And no left over Easter baskets with squishy jelly beans or sticky marshmallow peeps. Maybe if I read a bunny book?

 Once there was a little bunny who wanted to run away.  So he said to his mother, “I am running away.”   “If you run away,” said his mother, “I will run after you.  For you are my little bunny.”

But my mother isn’t here.  I need chocolate…

Read about the author – Margaret Chase Brown