Tuesday, July 12, 2011

British Baking, Part 4: What's all the buzz about? Devonshire Honey Cake

British Baking
Part 4: What's all the buzz about?
Devonshire Honey Cake

Dedicated to that wonderful mom
in honour of The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

Not bad for a cell phone shot, I'd say

Before we left to come abroad, my friend surprised me by dropping by one evening with a bag of books.  "Chick Lit." she called it.  I smiled wide, hugged her, and told her I'd miss her while we were away.  I was touched by her kindness and was eager to see what gems were awaiting my perusal.  She had already lent me a book that I thoroughly enjoyed, saying "she reminds me of you."  Which not only was flattering, but turned out to be true, I did have quite a lot in common with the author.  So given this, I knew she would have wonderful new books for me to explore.  Her selections included: The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells, and Sue Monk Kidd's The Secret Life of Bees.  Chick Lit. indeed.

I packed them carefully with me and hoped to have time to read at least one of them.  I'm not quite sure why I chose The Secret Life of Bees first.  Despite it being widely praised, I have hesitated to read it.  To be perfectly honest, I read Kidd's second novel, The Mermaid Chair, first, years ago, and while her writing is vivid and her topic interesting, I did not like the book.  Well, the fact that we have been here only slightly more than a week, and that my husband stole it out from under me, and we have both finished it should say something about this book.  The Secret Life Bees is phenomenal.  My husband will be mad at me for phrasing it thusly (being convinced that men and women feel and perceive things the same way), but you will especially enjoy it if you are a woman.  Hence "Chick Lit."  At the risk of over-simplifying, it is essentially the story of the complicated, multi-faceted relationship between mother and daughter, and of the power women and friendship, in general.

The story was rewarding enough in and of itself, but there was a sweet added bonus that I stumbled upon.  Not only does my friend writing her name in each and every book still, just like you did in high school, but she underlines passages as well.  My husband and I do the same, but we do it for dramatically different reasons.  I underline passages I find particularly moving, funny, or that have touched me in one way or another.  My husband underlines for work:  underline, underline, underline- parallelism.  Underline, underline, underline- foreshadowing.  I wonder why she underlines hers: business or pleasure?  I don't know, but after reading this story of the bond between mother and child, she penned this note:

"I'm so thankful for such
a wonderful Mother!
I want to be a 
wonderful Mother"

I assure you that you ARE such a wonderful mother, and friend.  

Note on the anonymity:  I consider writing, books and stories to be very personal.  It took me weeks to get the courage to share even this blog with people.  In books, I underline and make notes all the time, but don't end up lending the books out.  It's a window into my brain, and sometimes I don't want people poking around up there.  So, not to read into her passage too much, especially since this particular friend finds anonymity annoying (ha, ha, ha), I just didn't want her name put out there, unless she wants it to be is all.


  1. Haha! Such a great post. I know you relish your (stroller-giving) anonymity and thank you for preserving mine, though I don't mind being outed especially in such a sweet way as a Bringer of Books. I don't remember writing that in the book...cool that I did though and that you found it. :) Kind of makes me nervous about what I wrote in the other books. Certainly when you get a new book you feel an itch to put your name in it, don't you? Also: TOTALLY read Ya-Ya Sisterhood next. I want to read it again just thinking about it. PS. Cal keeps asking me if you turned your ceiling fans off before you went to Scotland. I assured him you did.

  2. Dawn,

    Thought you'd like it.

    A couple of months ago, my bookclub read Eat Pray Love, and I let one of the girls borrow my copy. It was given to me by a friend and had this really long, somewhat personal message written to me in the beginning but I thought ok, whatever no biggie. I then realized later after she had given it back, that in the Bali portion of the book I had underlined all of these questionable passages, and flushed all over wondering what she must have thought reading them. I couldn't for the life of me remember why on earth I underlined what I had, but then it occured to me that I had chosen a random section and underlined everything that had made me laugh. You have probably read Eat Pray Love- so you will know firsthand how provocate (racy) it can get, so I had a minor mortification moment wondering whether or not she now thinks I'm some kind of perv! Ha, ha, ha!

    Oh, and I am reading about the Ya-Ya's now. Love it! I think I'm on chapter 5 which is only page 30 or something. I'm predicting that it is going to be one of those juicy books, that sucks you in, and forces you to pull all-nighters until you finish.

    Confession (for purposes of catharsis- ha, ha): It was Angela and I who got you the stroller. We did it together, just to be nice, for the boys' b-day, and to give you something a little sturdier for off-roading (trail-walking) purposes. I dropped it off one evening and had the hardest time getting the damn thing up all of those stairs. I lugged it up to the floor under yours and stopped to rest for a second. I heard Brian come out, with trash I think, and freaked that I was going to be caught in the act (or for fear that he might come out in his underwear based on when I stopped by the day of your party to drop off the quiche- har, har, har). I ran downstairs and hid underneath the stairwell until I heard him go back inside and then wrestled that thing up the next half flight and decided to ditch it there (out of breath and still frightened that you'd figure me out and ruin the surprise). I called Angela as I jogged back home and we had such a laugh. We wanted to see how you'd react to your little gift. But then it just went on and I knew you figured it was me anyway, but I did not want to take full-credit by default though. Angela was my partner in crime. I can't wait for the three of us and our boys to be reunited again in August!

  3. I never finished Eat Pray Love. I read the first few chapters and decided it seemed cliche and self-important and just didn't get into it. And these days I don't reprimand myself for not finishing all the books I start. No time for it!

    I know you gave us the stroller. I suspected because it seemed like you were really not interested in such a juicy piece of mystery like I thought you normally would be. I asked Angela if she did it and she confessed that it was the two of you together. Funny about you bringing it up the stairs and hiding from Brian though. Thank you.