April 2014

The meeting of Wine and Words Book Club was held on April 28, 2014 at Ann’s home, who prepared a wonderful dinner of barbecued chicken skewers with spicy Thai sauce, rice, green beans and Campari tomatoes. The recipe for the Spicy Thai Chicken is included on the Recipe page. Karen provided strawberry shortcake made with Cup for Cup gluten-free flour, which was very delicious.

The book for April was Strapless by Deborah Davis, a historical novel about John Singer Sargent’s most famous painting of twenty-three-year-old New Orleans Creole Virginie Gautreau, who moved to Paris and quickly became the “it girl” of her day. Unveiled at the 1884 Paris Salon, Gautreau’s portrait generated the attention she craved-but it led to infamy rather than stardom. Sargent had painted one strap of Gautreau’s dress dangling from her shoulder, suggesting either the prelude to or the aftermath of sex. Her reputation irreparably damaged, Gautreau retired from public life, destroying all the mirrors in her home. Drawing on documents from private collections and other previously unexamined materials, Strapless is a tale of art and celebrity, obsession and betrayal.

Other books discussed…

Grain Brain, by David Perlmutter, MD (Suggested for general reading enjoyment) – A #1 New York Times bestseller–the devastating truth about the effects of wheat, sugar, and carbs on the brain, with a 4-week plan to achieve optimum health. Renowned neurologist David Perlmutter, MD, blows the lid off a topic that’s been buried in medical literature for far too long: carbs are destroying your brain. And not just unhealthy carbs, but even healthy ones like whole grains can cause dementia, ADHD, anxiety, chronic headaches, depression, and much more. Dr. Perlmutter explains what happens when the brain encounters common ingredients in your daily bread and fruit bowls, why your brain thrives on fat and cholesterol, and how you can spur the growth of new brain cells at any age. He offers an in-depth look at how we can take control of our “smart genes” through specific dietary choices and lifestyle habits, demonstrating how to remedy our most feared maladies without drugs. With a revolutionary 4-week plan, GRAIN BRAIN teaches us how we can reprogram our genetic destiny for the better. GRAIN BRAIN is a #1 New York Times bestseller and a finalist for a 2013 Books for a Better Life award.

Wheat Belly  (Suggested for general reading enjoyment) – Over 200 million Americans consume food products made of wheat every day. As a result, over 100 million experience some form of adverse health effect, ranging from minor rashes to high blood sugar to unattractive stomach bulges preventative cardiologist William Davis calls “wheat bellies.” According to Davis, that excess fat has nothing to do with gluttony, sloth, or too much butter: it’s due to the whole grain wraps we eat for lunch. After witnessing over 2,000 patients regain health after giving up wheat, Davis reached the disturbing conclusion that wheat is the single largest contributor to the nationwide obesity epidemic—and that elimination of wheat is key to dramatic weight loss and optimal health. In national bestseller, Dr. Davis exposes the harmful effects of what is actually a product of genetic tinkering and agribusiness being sold to the American public as “wheat”—and provides readers with a user-friendly, step-by-step plan to navigate a new wheat-free lifestyle. Informed by cutting-edge science and nutrition, along with case studies from men and women who have experienced life-changing transformations in health after waving goodbye to wheat, Wheat Belly is an illuminating look at what is truly making Americans sick and an action plan to clear our plates of this seemingly benign ingredient.

Stern  Men, by Elisabeth Gilbert. (Ann) – On two remote islands off the coast of Maine, the local lobstermen have fought savagely for generations over the fishing rights to the ocean waters between them. Young Ruth Thomas is born into this feud, the daughter of one of the greediest lobstermen in Maine. Eighteen years old, as smart as a whip, and irredeemably unromantic, Ruth returns home from boarding school determined to throw her education overboard and join the “stern men.” As the feud escalates, she helps work the lobster boats, brushes up on her profanity, and eventually falls for Owney Wishnell, a handsome young lobsterman. “Funny, clever and wise” (Seattle Times), STERN MEN captures a feisty American spirit through this unforgettable heroine who is destined for greatness despite herself.

Me Before You, by Jojo Moyes. (Jan) –  They had nothing in common until love gave them everything to lose . . .Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life—steady boyfriend, close family—who has barely been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex–Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life—big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel—and now he’s pretty sure he cannot live the way he is. Will is acerbic, moody, bossy—but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living.A Love Story for this generation, Me Before You brings to life two people who couldn’t have less in common—a heartbreakingly romantic novel that asks, What do you do when making the person you love happy also means breaking your own heart?

Beautiful, The Life of Heddy Lamaar, by Stephen Michael Shearer (Sandie) – Hedy Lamarr’s exotic beauty was heralded across Europe in the early 1930s. Yet she became infamous for her nude scenes in the scandalous movie Ecstasy. Trapped in a marriage to one of Austria’s munitions barons, a friend of Mussolini’s who hid his Jewish heritage to become an “honorary Aryan” at the onset of World War II, Lamarr fled Europe for Hollywood, where she was transformed into one of film’s most glamorous celebrities, appearing opposite such actors as Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy, and James Stewart. As her career faded, she went from one husband to the next, her personal troubles and legal woes casting a shadow over her phenomenal intelligence and former image. Stephen Michael Shearer separates the truth from the rumors regarding the life of Hedy Lamarr, and highlights her astonishing role as inventor of a technology that has become an essential part of everything from military weaponry to today’s cell phones.

Perfume Collector, by Terraro (Karen) SUMMER BOOK – A remarkable novel about secrets, desire, memory, passion, and possibility. Newlywed Grace Monroe doesn’t fit anyone’s expectations of a successful 1950s London socialite, least of all her own. When she receives an unexpected inheritance from a complete stranger, Madame Eva d’Orsey, Grace is drawn to uncover the identity of her mysterious benefactor. Weaving through the decades, from 1920s New York to Monte Carlo, Paris, and London, the story Grace uncovers is that of an extraordinary women who inspired one of Paris’s greatest perfumers. Immortalized in three evocative perfumes, Eva d’Orsey’s history will transform Grace’s life forever, forcing her to choose between the woman she is expected to be and the person she really is.The Perfume Collector explores the complex and obsessive love between muse and artist, and the tremendous power of memory and scent.

The next meeting will be held on May 27 at 5:30 PM (one hour earlier than usual) at Kay’s. Cindy will provide dessert.

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