That’s The Wrong Fork!

It came as a big surprise to me yesterday to learn that Emily Post wrote a cookbook.  And you too can have a copy of it (original 1951 version, in hardback) for $2.30 from Amazon.  (The shipping is probably twice that.)  The 1951 version may be the only version as far as I know; unlike The Joy of Cooking, which has several versions and has been updated through the years.

In my opinion, if you never have but one cookbook, it should be The Joy of Cooking.  It has every basic recipe you could (and should) know how to cook, and not only that, some fascinating reading about the properties of food (why and how do eggs work in recipes? How exactly do they make flour?) and directions for cleaning a duck from the feathers down, along with many other kinds of game.  It really could be the survivalists’ handbook.

I don’t know why I was so surprised that Emily Post wrote a cookbook, because suddenly I remembered my first Home Economics class.  At my high school, you could get three different types of diplomas:  basic, vocational, or college preparatory.  I was in college prep, and we had certain courses that were required–that was probably true of the other categories as well, but we didn’t fraternize much so I don’t know–but we had room for some electives.  My freshman year, I chose Home Ec.  And then I took it for two more years.

I was interested in cooking.  My father had taught me to cook a little bit (my mother was a disaster in that area) and I’ll never forget making my first apple pie under his supervision, which included a crust made from scratch.  Mostly I’ll never forget the feeling of amazement and accomplishment when I took it out of the oven.  People can actually eat this, and I made it!

Nothing compares to that first apple pie, unless it’s the first time I grew a tomato plant. I planted this! In the dirt!  And I can eat it! I was young once, and many things could surprise and delight me. It takes a little more these days.

But I remembered that my Home Ec I teacher, Mrs. Noland, was not just about learning to cook and sew. It was about etiquette at the table, and proper attire. She was the advisor to an all-girls “social club” I belonged to, and every year, we had an afternoon tea, I think to welcome new members. Hats and gloves required. Proper way to balance a saucer on your lap and hold a teacup. She was the height of sophistication in our little mountain town. That said, I don’t know why I was so surprised that Emily Post wrote a cookbook, since so much of etiquette revolves around eating.

Fast forward to when I was 21 as opposed to 14, and I was going to dinner with my then boyfriend at the home of a woman who was known to be an incredible cook. I mean, she had copies of Gourmet magazine lying around the house. Her husband was a professor at the University of Pennsylvania and they were obviously experienced at entertaining. I was dying to go, but terrified. Literally trembling, afraid I would do something wrong at the table and expose myself for the rube I really was. My boyfriend said, don’t be afraid, just watch me. Use the fork I use. And that’s what I did, but I needn’t have worried. The hostess was so gracious, so good at making her guests feel comfortable, that I probably could have made a mistake and I never would have known it.

Mrs. Noland taught me some of the rules, but this hostess taught me the true meaning of etiquette. In the end, the rules are designed to make everyone feel comfortable and relaxed, and if you can’t do that, you’ve failed.

It’s been a long time since that Home Ec class and that dinner, but I still know how to hold a teacup.

Cars and Country Music, Part I

Go together like love and marriage, horse and carriage., as the song says, and I was reminded of just what a role cars (mostly trucks) play in country music.  Along with trains, Momma, and prison.

This is an experiment to see if I can get a video to play here on WordPress.

Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives

This is the title of a show on the Food Network.  Chef Guy Fieri travels around to various “hole-in-the-wall” restaurants all over the country, most of them suggested by viewers.  He tootles around in his signature cherry red convertible Camaro.  Like I believe that.  They are most certainly flying his car to whatever city he’s in, but it’s a good trademark, and Fieri is a lot of fun.  Each of these restaurants has some signature dish they do very well, and sometimes more than one.  Fieri has never met a food he doesn’t like 🙂

I think of the classic diner as a free-standing place, like an old railroad car that has been converted into a restaurant.  It’s very narrow, with a counter and stools on one side, and booths against the wall on the other. But there are also faux diners, mocked up to look like something from the 1950’s.  One such diner that I believe was in New Orleans had black and white tile linoleum floors, red and white checked table cloths, lots of chrome (light fixtures, stools) and servers dressed up in uniforms like they wore in the old sit-c0m “Alice”.  And complete with juke boxes playing Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis.

A couple of real diners are famous, such as the Whistle Stop Café in Juliette, Georgia.  It was made famous in the movie “Fried Green Tomatoes”. Maybe lesser known is the diner called the Northside Café, in Winterset, Iowa, featured in the movie “The Bridges of Madison County”. Until the movie was made, Winterset was best known as the birthplace of John Wayne. When I lived in Des Moines, I visited all the locations where the movie was made–the farmhouse, Winterset, all the bridges that were still standing. Every year they have a Covered Bridge Festival in Winterset, and I can say that one of my fondest memories is that this is where I saw my first and only demonstration of live polka.

Drive-Ins: When I think of drive-ins, I don’t really think of restaurants, although it was a revolutionary idea. I think of movies. When I was a child, my parents took me to the movies, always a western, and I always fell asleep before the end, after asking a million questions about what had just happened and what was going to happen next. As a teenager, we had a drive-in movie in our town, which I only went to once. It seemed to me that just being seen there was enough to trash your reputation. When I got ready to move to the big city of Memphis after graduation, several people expressed misgivings about the dangers of a city. I was like, “Are you kidding? At least there’s something to do there. Here, I’m in more danger going to the drive-in”.

Dives: I don’t think of dives as restaurants. I think of them as bars. Three in Memphis stand out for me: Peanuts, the Last Laugh, and The Daily Planet. Especially The Daily Planet. The owners were for some reason obsessed with Superman and Lois Lane and there were posters all over the bar of them. Both Peanuts and The Daily Planet had live music, and even the most amateur of live music in Memphis was a cut above what you usually see in bars.

But for the highest honor you could bestow on a dive bar…that goes to Vic’s Kangaroo Café in New Orleans. I’m amazed–I looked it up and it still exists, at 636 Tchoupitoulas St. It was across the street from my first office there. It was the after-work watering hole for me and my fellow managers. So many memories…like the time we took our boss there. He wasn’t much of a drinker, and after one or maybe two beers, he got offended by something someone said to him at the bar. We don’t know what it was, but our boss Fred was black, and he was the only black person in the bar. So pretty safe to assume it was something racial, or he assumed it was. I think being the only black person in the bar made him a little paranoid, and then you add alcohol to that…So Fred breaks a beer bottle on the bar, leaving shards of glass on the bar and a jagged weapon in his hand. We all surrounded him and marched him out of the bar, all the while shouting “Everything is OK! Really, he didn’t mean it! We’ll be back to clean up the glass! He’s leaving now! Please don’t call the police!”

I should write to Guy Fieri and tell him to check out Vic’s 🙂 They do have food. Every Friday they would do a crawfish boil on the sidewalk outside the front door. They had a popcorn machine that they added cayenne pepper to. I wasn’t able to breathe while they were popping it. I was there so much that eventually they would come to me and say, “We’re about to pop some more popcorn, wanna go outside?” Now there is the epitome of your friendly hometown dive bar.

What’s For Lunch?

Fellow blogger spencercourt, who became a real-life friend, followed by becoming a Facebook friend, started something this week.  spencercourt grew up in Manila, and attended a high school called, at that time, the American School.  The name subsequently changed to the International School.  He and fellow schoolmates of different graduating classes have a Facebook group called something like the AS/IS Club, and also have their own website.

By a strange coincidence, I have something similar.  I grew up in a small town in the mountains of North Carolina.  We don’t have a website, but we have two Facebook groups.  One is strictly for my graduating class.  We were the first graduating class from the new high school built in our town, and we feel pretty special because of it.  The other group is called “Remember Waynesville When…”.   People of all age groups post photos of Waynesville then and now, interesting bits of history, memories, etc.

So spencercourt asked an innocent question.  He asked if any of his AS/IS peeps remembered what they ate for lunch in high school, because he couldn’t remember. He could remember eating lunch almost every day at the Army Navy Club, but not what the food was.  He wanted to know what his fellow AS/IS folks remembered.

I suddenly realized that I couldn’t remember what we ate for lunch either, with one exception.  The rolls.  They were a type of yeast roll called a water roll.

So I asked the same innocent question on our “Remember When” group. Who remembers our school lunches, and specifically, who remembers the rolls? OMG, you would have thought I asked everyone to share their ideas on how to achieve world peace. People were coming out of the woodwork. EVERYBODY remembered the rolls.

One of the things I looked forward to were the replies to spencercourt’s question. It seemed to me that school lunches in the Philippines might be pretty exotic. Then it dawned on me that school lunches in the mountains of North Carolina might seem pretty exotic to people from the Philippines.

Many people remembered days when lunch was pinto beans, turnip greens, and cornbread. I remember having corn quite often as a vegetable, probably because corn was grown locally quite a bit. You think of corn as a crop grown in the endless flat fields of Illinois, Iowa, and Kansas, but if planted correctly, it grows just fine in the mountains too, just not as abundantly.

Besides the rolls, many people also remembered the peanut butter cookies. Apparently the government gave our schools free peanut butter and cheese. So we’ve gone on the hunt for the recipes for the rolls and the cookies from former lunchroom ladies.

One member of the “Remember” group is a former local politico (County Commissioner) turned reporter for the hometown newspaper. The discussion has reached the point where her editor said she should write a story about it for the paper.

She wondered how she could possibly do that, since she doesn’t cook. (She stores cups and saucers in her oven.) I told her she doesn’t play an instrument or sing in a bluegrass band either, but she regularly reports on that anyway. No difference.

Plus, I said she should treat it as history, not as a cooking article. School lunches have changed dramatically over the years since we got “homemade” rolls and peanut butter cookies for lunch in the school cafeteria.

Like I said, spencercourt started something.

All Hail to the United States Postal Service

“Neither snow nor rain nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds”. Most Americans, I’d say, think this is the motto of the USPS, but actually, they don’t have a motto. This particular quote appears as an inscription on a post office in New York City.
The quote itself is taken from the writings of Herodotus (circa BCE 500), the Greek philosopher that I remember as being famous for saying that you can never step in the same river twice. (Still a very profound thought.) But describing the Persian system of messengers, he said, “It is said that as many days as there are in the whole journey, so many are the men and horses that stand along the road, each horse and man at the interval of a day’s journey, and these are stayed neither by snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor darkness from accomplishing their appointed course with all speed.” Think Pony Express. It also reminds me of the origins of the Iditarod.
The USPS is in a very weird position. It’s mandated by the U.S. Constitution, and yet, it’s received no money from the taxpayers since the early 1980’s. So it’s expected to sink or swim on its own merits, by hook or by crook. But let them try to raise the price of a stamp by even one cent (which has to be approved by Congress), and watch the outcry. They are always between a rock and a hard place. They’re expected to act as a private company would, but without the ability to set prices or charge higher fees based on whatever hardships may be involved based on where they have to deliver. They have to deliver everywhere for the same price, regardless.
For instance, they deliver mail to a Native American tribe living at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, which they have to do by donkey.
This is an unsustainable business model. They cannot compete with private companies that aren’t hampered by these archaic regulations. FedEx killed them. Email killed them. In the sink or swim category, the answer is…sink. The USPS lost $5 billion last year.
Think about what you get in the mail these days. Bills and ads, mostly ads. Crap you just throw away. Wasted paper, and wasted labor to deliver it.
It’s no wonder that working for the Postal Service is very depressing. The employees are under a tremendous amount of pressure to perform, but in the end, what is the reward? Yes, you get very good federal benefits, if you can manage to keep your job. But how motivating can it be that your goal is “Don’t get fired”? The first mass shooting by an employee in the workplace in this country was by a postal worker. We even have a saying for it…”going postal”.
So…at work have a regular mail carrier named Alvin. Alvin is black. Always wears an earring and has a little soul patch on his chin. Has ear buds in his ears, connected to his cell phone in his pocket. There was a time when none of that would have been permitted. The ear buds and the earring may still not be permissible, so it could be that he attaches them once he’s out of headquarters, but the soul patch isn’t something he can take off and on. So the USPS has relaxed its standards…or, said another way, has migrated into the 21st century.
Alvin likes us, because we are always glad to see him, and we tease and joke with him, so he sometimes spends a few extra minutes with us, even though he is always in a hurry. On Friday he regaled us with stories. One of the stories is that the USPS now delivers on Sunday for Amazon. When you go to work, they give you your packages and map which says, “Go here first”. And how long has FedEx been doing that? Apparently there was a bid, and the USPS won. In another story, he told us all the things you can ship via USPS, which includes food and dead bodies. He also said that because of his appearance, he is often approached and asked to take packages from one address to another without postage and without it going through the normal channels. He said he thought that was the quickest path to federal prison for him. So he isn’t going there.

Reading with Fakename: Frank Sinatra In A Blender

This is the first novel by a writer named Matthew McBride, who is from Missouri (as is everyone on my father’s side of the family).
As often happens, I read his second novel first (“A Swollen Red Sun”), because Amazon pushed it on me relentlessly. But not to blame it on them…it did sound like the kind of book I’d like, and I did. That second book takes place in Gasconade County, Missouri, which was once known as the methamphetamine capital of the country.
Meth is the absolute scourge of the rural Midwest/upper South. I,in fact, recently learned that my favorite Missouri cousin from early adulthood is presently in prison on a conviction related to meth, and it isn’t the first time for him.
That book features meth cookers and dealers, crooked cops, murder, and overall desperation. McBride seems to know this world a little too well. His bio says he’s a former assembly-line worker turned writer, and that he writes about the people he knows. I wonder if he knows my cousin? I wonder if he’s in prison.
Frank Sinatra In A Blender’s main character is Nick Valentine, a private investigator in St. Louis who used to be a cop before his drinking got the best of him. Now that he’s been kicked off the force, he’s turned drinking into an art form. He always seems to order at least three kinds of liquor at a time. In a rare display of restraint toward the end of the book, he stops at a convenience store and buys a bottle of vodka, a bottle of orange juice, and a bottle of Mad Dog 20/20.
Usually it’s more like a White Russian, a shot of Maker’s Mark, and two Coronas with lime. That’s when he’s at his usual hangout, a strip club called Cowboy Roy’s Fantasyland. Nick’s creative use of alcohol is one of the ongoing gags in the book, and is part of what makes it so incredibly funny. Except, that isn’t really funny…is it? There is a lot of cognitive dissonance in both books. You find yourself laughing hysterically while all around you there is a mind-boggling level of violence and brutality and torture. Ha Ha, right? If you can stand to read it, the point does sort of creep up on you, that there is a certain level of immunity we’ve achieved when it comes to horror.
Frank Sinatra is Nick’s dog, a very macho Yorkshire Terrier. In good conscience, I can’t reveal to you whether or not Frank ends up in a blender (but if he did, he would fit in it).
The book is described by the publisher, and therefore on Amazon, as a “cult classic”. For whom, I wonder? In the past, this would be called a “hard-boiled” detective novel, because the detectives are always wry and sardonic and world-weary. This book updates the level of violence and adds modern elements (like meth) not dreamed of in the days of Sam Spade. Both books are brilliant, not least because you discover that you can, in fact, still be horrified.

Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead

On June 8th, I did a post called “Why Are There Evil People?” I’ve been going through a situation at work where an employee (specifically, the assistant manager) has been trying to get me fired since the week before Memorial Day in May. She wrote an eight-page letter to my Corporate office, detailing all my alleged failures. She convinced three of my employees to sign on to the letter. She tried to get at least three others to sign on, but they refused. The rest were either too new, or in one case at least, too loyal to me, for her to even ask. I’ve never seen this letter in person, but I know what’s in it due to her having shown it to one of the employees who refused to sign on, who was perfectly willing and eager to share the contents with me.
In addition to listing my alleged shortcomings, part of the letter extolled her qualifications. She claimed that I didn’t do much of anything anyway, and what little I do, she knew how to do it too. Because of her dedication and laudable work ethic, she would be more than happy to take on additional responsibilities, which would have the added bonus of saving the company money (my salary). Showing a complete lack of understanding of my role, which isn’t that uncommon. She believes that work is made up of a series of tasks, and she has always missed the big picture…which is called “management”.
Have you ever seen the TV reality show “Big Brother”? This is one of this person’s favorite shows. Here’s how it works: A large group of complete strangers are placed in a house (the “Big Brother House”). They can’t leave the house except for going into the back yard. There are competitions, and the winner is named Head of Household (“HOH”). The HOH then nominates three people to be evicted, and a vote is taken during a house meeting, and one person gets thrown out. The objective is to be the last person standing. I’m sure I don’t need to explain the level of deception and scheming it requires to “win”.
For the purposes of this post, we will call the assistant manager person “Catherine”, and here was Catherine’s first mistake: she believes that real life is like Big Brother. That you can form an alliance with other people and “vote out” somebody you don’t like.
Cutting to the chase, on Thursday afternoon at 4:45 my boss informed me that on Friday, they were eliminating “Catherine’s” position. And that took place on Friday morning. He said that his observations and analysis of my operation (based on two visits of one day each in six months) did not require an assistant manager position.
I think this means one of three things, or a combination.
1. He really believes this, in which case he’s wrong.
2. He’s under pressure to cut expenses, making the company appear to be more profitable. Rumor has it that the company is quietly for sale.
3. This is the safest way to resolve what HR called the Fakename versus Catherine camps. Now everyone has to depend on me, whether they like it or not. And some of them won’t like it. “Catherine” was sweet, or apparently so. She has this sweet little girl voice, which grated on my nerves every time she opened her mouth in the last two months. But HR correctly described her as passive-aggressive. Her apparent sweetness hides the heart of a rattlesnake. I’m not mean, but I’m not sweet. I’m fair, and I’m straightforward.
Eliminating the position will mean I have to work more and longer hours. Is it worth it? You bet it is.
If money were the sole issue, my company could have saved more by eliminating my position instead, but they couldn’t really have done that. Every city has to have a General Manager…you can’t eliminate that position. So they would have had to fire and replace me…without cause, other than allegations made by employees that are emotionally based, speculative and unprovable. In addition, I have the double protection of being female and over 40. Not that I think I need to rely on that, but if forced, I would be in the lawyer’s office tomorrow.
The real deal is, I’m good at what I do. Yesterday, I talked to my old boss, whose position was “eliminated” back in February. He said, you’re safe for now. Your main client would have a coronary if they replaced you. Nice. But, he said, don’t feel too safe. Well, who ever does feel safe in corporate America?
But there are some secrets for surviving corporate culture. One of them is, Don’t draw attention to yourself in some negative way. Whether it seems that way to you or not, your bosses are busy. They don’t need the added interruption of dealing with a personnel issue that you created. And they do have to respond whether they like or not, and they will resent it. “Catherine” is not smart enough to understand that.
In the end, here’s what I think: I win, you lose.

Translating From the Scottish

(A subcategory of Reading With Fakename.)

I’ve recently finished all five novels by a Scottish crime writer named Craig Robertson, who is from Glasgow. Just to start with, that makes him a Glaswegian. What??? Shouldn’t that be Glasgowan?

There’s a saying, attributed to various Brits, that the British and the Americans are two peoples divided by a common language. The closest actual quote is from Oscar Wilde, who said, “We have really everything in common with America nowadays, except, of course, language”.

Reading British writers, you get used to certain common terms, such as the fact that the trunk of a car is called a boot and the hood is called a bonnet. A multi-level parking structure is called a car park, not a garage. A garage is a place you go to get your car repaired. And so on.

Reading something by a Scottish writer adds a whole other level of separation. I’ve read all five of these books on Kindle. One of the things I like best about Kindle is that you can highlight passages you want to return to. And it has a built-in dictionary, so if you highlight only one word, it will bring up the definition. I absolutely adore this feature. While reading a book, you don’t have stop and interrupt your train of thought by going to the dictionary or online to look up an unfamiliar word; it’s right there at your fingertips. You don’t have to write it down to look up later, by which time you will have forgotten the context it was used in.

Except. The built-in dictionary is the Oxford American Dictionary. I’m sure you can see the problem here. If the dictionary doesn’t know the word, it pops up with a message, “No definition found”. I see that a lot. So I’m going to give you just a few “No definition found” words from Robertson’s 4th novel and let you try your hand at them. In the next paragraph, I’ll tell you the definition (because you can find the definitions online).

Gallus. (He uses this one a lot.)
Carnaptious.
Lairy.
Blootered.

There are other turns of phrase, such as this one: “Where were you, Stevo?” Answer: “I don’t know. I was drunk. I was out my face.” In another case, detectives wanted to know the answer to something, not from the outset or the get-go, but from the off.

And now our definitions:
Gallus. Gallus is a term for a rooster. In Scottish usage, it means daring, confident, cheeky…in other words, cocksure.
Carnaptious. Bad-tempered, quarrelsome, snappy. This one I could have guessed from its similarity to “fractious”.
Lairy. Behaving in a loud, excited manner.
Blootered. This is probably the easiest one to guess. It means very drunk. Obviously related to the American “blotto”.

Thanks to Craig Robertson for this trip down Vocabulary Lane. As for a quick review, his first book (“Random”) is excellent, as is his last book (“The Last Refuge”). The ones in between are decent. The first four books take place in Glasgow; “The Last Refuge” takes place in the Faroe Islands, making it a fascinating virtual journey into a part of the world few people venture into (or want to). Speaking of definitions, it’s pretty much the definition of “desolate”.

First World Problems (Point, Counterpoint)

First, my new wireless keyboard and mouse. I love them…except there are no lights on the keyboard. So you don’t know whether the Num Lock and Caps Lock keys are on or off, which leads to some interesting errors. Especially when you’re half awake. Why can’t I type in my password? (I have electricity. I have a computer. I know how to use it, mostly.)
My hair. I’ve had this cowlick for forever on the left side, just above my ear. A few months back, I developed an identical cowlick on the right side. And now, in its old age, the hair on the top of my head has decided it wants to part from right to left. What? Here in Fakename world, we do not do parts. The hair on the top of my head is supposed to look neat, but tousled at the same time. It is resisting my efforts, and those of my hairdresser, to do what we want it to. I’m only half kidding about the old age part. It seems that something genetic is going on. Not to mention that my hair is the wrong color now, in its old age. But it isn’t gray. (I have hair. I have a hairdresser.)
Last week I smashed my car into a concrete column in a parking garage, doing minor ($892 USD) to the rear passenger side door. I am totally annoyed. (I have a car. I know how to drive it, mostly.)
Yesterday, I suddenly remembered, for no apparent reason, this bar I used to go to with my friends in New Orleans, the first year I lived there (1992). This bar may have been called 701, in any case, the name of the bar was a number that was also its address. Every Monday, they had free red beans and rice, as do a number of bars in NOLA. And they had a jukebox. So every Monday, I would put a quarter in the jukebox and play Garth Brooks’ “Papa Loved Mama”. 1992 was the year that song came out. This bar was not a country music sort of place, but when that song came on, everybody in the place would sing along. I think they liked to see me coming, because no one else would embarrass themselves by playing it!
Yesterday when I remembered this, I wanted to post that song for one of my friends from that era, and guess what? You cannot find individual Garth Brooks songs on YouTube or even iTunes. Garth has a thing about that. I was thwarted! (Refer back to: I have electricity. I have a computer.)
Like I said, First World Problems. But these are problems I can probably solve by myself, if only by adjusting my attitude towards them.

Reading With Fakename: The Orphan Choir

I’ve mentioned before that the way I choose books is varied, and one of my methods is simply to go to the library and cruise the shelves of “new releases”. Unfortunately, since I live in a small city where few resources are allocated to the public library, “new releases” usually means “things that were published last year”. If I want something truly new, I have to buy it from Amazon.
But that’s okay. If I haven’t heard of it, it’s new to me, right?
So it is with The Orphan Choir. When choosing a book this way, I go with a combination of how intriguing the title is, and what it says about the book and the writer on the inside cover.
The writer in this case is Sophie Hannah, who is British, writes “psychological thrillers”, and has recently been commissioned by the Agatha Christie estate to write a new novel featuring Hercule Poirot. I thought that was enough recommendation for me.
In the book, Louise Beeston and her husband Stuart live in a four-story (counting the basement, I believe) house in Cambridge. Their seven year-old son Joseph is away at school at Saviour College. Because he’s in the choir, he is required to board there, and can only come home on holidays, not even on weekends. Louise is consumed with grief, missing him. Her husband is obsessed with having the outside of their house cleaned of the 100-year old grime and coal dust that coats the brick.
Louise has a different problem, which is noise. Their next-door neighbor is driving her crazy playing loud music, and always the same songs. She calls the Environmental Health Council (these are the people who apparently respond to noise complaints, rather than the police), and they send over a woman named Pat Jervis who is surprisingly sympathetic to her. She starts keeping a diary of when the noise occurs, and a strange thing happens. Suddenly she starts hearing choral music at odd times. Not Queen, not Dolly Parton, but choral music that sounds as if her son is singing with the choir.
When her husband insists on going through with the cleaning of the exterior of the house, she insists on buying a second home to escape to. This country home is Paradise…except you know something is wrong. The rules require absolute quiet. Children, for example, are not permitted to jump into the swimming pool, because it would make a splash that might offend others. Louise seems to be heading toward “Be careful what you wish for”.
At first though, it’s idyllic. And then, Louise starts hearing the choral music again, far from the city and from her obnoxious neighbor. What can this mean?
The end is not at all what I expected and is a little jarring, and I would have said, not quite my style, but 24 hours later, I still find it haunting. So I will probably read more of Sophie Hannah.
I love accidentally discovering these little gems.