Summer of '69 by Elin Hilderbrand* was the pick for one of my online bookgroups. I had never heard of the author, but several of the group raved about her. Okay.
On the Page
When my boys asked how my book was, I shrugged my shoulders and said, "Eh...". I had never heard of Hilderbrand before this was selected for one of my book groups. She's a decent writer, but this book was dull and juvenile. But perhaps that was her goal since the protagonist IS a thirteen-year-old girl.
Given the title, I thought this would be more of a historical fiction. But there's not much history here. Vietnam, the lunar landing, Woodstock, civil rights. They all get a mention, but the book is really just a soap opera about people who summer in Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard.
People are people, says the matriarch of the family. These just weren't my people, nor very interesting people.
On the Plate
I will say that food - and drinks - are mentioned an awful lot.
"'Men in the den,' Nancy said, raising her pencil-line eyebrows. 'They drink bourbon, smoke cigars, and talk science. Blair was offered a glass of Chablis, which she gratefully accepted, and then a celery stick stuffed with salmon cream cheese and topped with paper-thin slices of olive, which she originally declined but then changed her mind and accepted" (pg. 50).
"...Blair woke up and immediately consumed two grilled-cheese sandwiches, a butterscotch pudding, three chocolate-coconut eggs, and a handful of black jellybeans from the Easter basket that Exalta still prepared for all four of her grandchildren even though three of them were adults" (pg. 55).
"'And hey, why don't you come to my house for dinner on Sunday night? Sundays we always do steamers.' 'Are you sure?' ...On Nantucket, she and Tiger harvested their own clams using rakes that belonged to their grandfather. No matter how thoroughly they rinsed them, they always ended up with sand in the bowl, and that was what made them authentic" (pg. 173).
"One martini, two martinis. Kate ordered escargots to start and Bitsy the hot appetizer - a crepe of seafood tossed in bechamel - which she barely touches. 'Shall we order wine?' Bitsy asks. This seems excessive. Kate is already seeing double, and the garlic from the escargot is repeating on her, so she eats a piece of bread slathered with the sublime French butter" (pp. 219-220).
But the food scene that inspired me was when David takes Jessie to the Sweet Shoppe. "It smells the way all good ice cream parlors should, like toasted marshmallows, melted chocolate, and the malt-and-vanilla scent of just-baked waffle cones" (pg. 363).
There's no recipe. I just went to the store and picked up chocolate-dipped, sprinkle-adhered cones, vanilla bean ice cream, and marshmallow fluff. And the boys are always up to using my torch! This was a fun bit of fluff for a fluffy beach read. They enjoyed our toasted marshmallow adventure and asked why I had never thought about doing this before. I guess it was good for a sweet inspiration.
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Click to see what everyone else read in July 2019: here.