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Denise Morland has commented on (251) products.

Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale
Midnight in Austenland

Denise Morland, February 23, 2012

In Midnight in Austenland Shannon Hale revisits the world of Jane Austen vacations. I have no idea if these places actually exist, but I guess they must. Pembrook Park is a British country house where women can go to immerse themselves in Jane Austen's long lost era and experience the gentler, more chivalrous times Jane wrote about. Charlotte flees there to lick her wounds after her husband leaves her for another woman and she is left numb and cynical about romance. The funny clothes and overly authentic food take some getting used to, but soon Charlotte is distracted by the haunting suspicion that a murder has been committed. Is she falling into the same trap of an over-active imagination that Catherine Morland fell victim too, or is something fishy really going on?

Absolutely, hilariously, ridiculous story! Charlotte is a delightful combination of no-nonsense business woman and wounded romantic lacking in self-confidence. She attacks mysteries to distract herself from her growing attraction to Mr. Mallery only to wonder if she is exaggerating things. As she attempts to find the line between fantasy and reality she learns to open her heart and trust herself again.

This is a highly entertaining read! Realistic, no and also not in anyway an attempt to mimic Jane Austen. Midnight in Austenland is just a very pleasant way to spend an afternoon, get some good laughs, and meet some engaging new characters.
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The World We Found by Thrity Umrigar
The World We Found

Denise Morland, February 1, 2012

In the late 1970's Laleh, Kavita, Nishta, and Armaiti, were idealistic young students protesting the political conditions in India, passionate about their beliefs and seemingly willing to risk everything to see equality for India's religious and economic minorities. Thirty years later they are all living different lives then they imagined and they haven't stayed the close-knit group they once were. When Armaiti learns she is dying her last wish is to have all of her friends together again. But the reunion opens old wounds and brings to life carefully hidden secrets. Each of the women is forced to examine the life she is living and compare it to her past dreams and ambitions. How do you reconcile the present with the wild, ambitious plans you made in college?

This is the first book by Thrity Umrigar that I have read, but it won't be the last. Each of the women in this book was interesting and likeable, though all were very different. The contrast of their differences alongside the obvious similarities that made them friends gave the story a very realistic depth and added layers to the plot. The World We Found was the best of both worlds, an easy read that made me think - about India, politics, and most of all how the idealism of university days fades into the reality of middle age forcing each person to hold strong to their ideals while bending them to fit ever changing lives and circumstances. In the end it was an eye-opening, yet lovely read about friendship, change, and growing up.
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An Available Man by Hilma Wolitzer
An Available Man

Denise Morland, January 25, 2012

In this quiet little book about love and loss Hilma Wolitzer has the winning formula for a novel worked out. Make your readers fall in love with the main character, make them adore him and you can't go wrong. By the time Edward Schuyler is done telling the reader about his ill-fated romance with Laurel (she left him at the altar) and how Bee (his recently deceased wife) was the love of his life, you want nothing less than happiness for him. He is so gentle, kind, and clueless that you can forgive him his indiscretions.

When Edwards beloved wife, Bee, falls terminally ill she tells him "Look at you. They'll be crawling out of the woodwork." Oblivious, he has no idea what she's talking about until months after her death when the phone begins ringing with lonely women looking for an available man. His stepchildren only escalate things when they place a personal ad for him in the New York Times Book Review. Soon women are, indeed, crawling out of the woodwork and Edward has no idea what to do with them.
As you would expect, An Available Man is by turns funny, heartbreaking, and live affirming. Highly recommended for anyone looking for a feel-good, uplifting read.
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Death Comes to Pemberley by P. D. James
Death Comes to Pemberley

Denise Morland, January 25, 2012

Death Comes to Pemberley may sound like yet another Jane Austen knock-off. The difference? This one is written by P.D. James, an accomplished mystery writer with 20 previous books and many awards to her name.

The story begins years into the happily settled marriage of Darcy and Elizabeth. They are pleasantly occupied with the domestic concerns of their household, Jane and Bingley live nearby, and Lydia and Wickham's bad behavior is nothing more than a memory from the past. All this bliss comes crashing to a halt on the eve of Lady Anne's ball, named after Darcy's deceased mother and organized by Elizabeth herself. It is a highlight of the social season, attended by all their high society neighbors and the entire Pemberley staff is intimately involved in the many preparations. So when Lydia, unexpectedly and most inconveniently, arrives in the middle of the night, dramatically screaming that her husband has been shot, the whole household is thrown into chaos. What Darcy discovers in the woods that night will cast a shadow on the ball and put into jeopardy everything that Darcy and Elizabeth hold dear, even the marriage of Darcy's innocent sister Georgiana.

P.D. James has done a wonderful job of deepening and adding to Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. She always stays impeccably true to the master's style and intentions, never trying to impose her own will on the characters already known and beloved by so many readers. Instead she furthers the story, letting the reader see Darcy's emotions over his conflict with Wickham, the little imperfections in his relationship with Georgiana that make Darcy seem more human, and Elizabeth's small, quiet guilt that she saddled Darcy with her inferior family when she married him. Death Comes to Pemberley truly makes you feel that all your favorite characters have been restored and allowed to live a little longer.
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Baking Style: Art, Craft, Recipes by Lisa Yockelson
Baking Style: Art, Craft, Recipes

Denise Morland, January 25, 2012

Baking Style is Lisa Yockelson's newest book on all things baking. The extra large format and bright pink cover are eye-catching so it won't get lost and forgotten on your shelves. She starts with a detailed explanation on various techniques, equipment, and ingredients. Then she moves on to the recipes. The organization is hard to follow, it seems more whimsy than anything else, but the photographs are plentiful and gorgeous and the large format means the recipes are easy to read.

Marzipan Scones -

These were the lightest, fluffiest, tastiest scones I've ever made! The base is not too sweet and it really highlights the little chunks of marzipan that are scattered throughout. I will definitely be making these again.

Dirty Cake -

More like a coffee cake than say a birthday cake, this had loads of cinnamon flavor. It was a little hard to get the second layer to cover the cinnamon brown sugar topping, but I persisted and won out in the end. This cake tasted even better the next day.

Parmesan and Gruyere Popovers -

My one disappointment in this book. I was surprised that the recipe called for refrigerating the dough. Every popover recipe I've ever made calls for all the ingredients to be at room temperature to help the popovers "pop". I followed the recipe and, indeed, these popovers didn't "pop". The flavor was nice, but I missed the light, airy texture.

There are so many more recipes I will make from this book - Saturated Orange and Bourbon Cake, Big and Crazy Chewy Date Bars, and Cardamom Buns that (Almost) Levitate, just to name a few!

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