'How pleasant it is to spend an evening in this way! I declare that after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! — When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.' No one made any reply. She then yawned again, threw aside her book, and cast her eyes round the room in quest of some amusement. — from Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen (1775-1817)
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May 6, 2013

Food from books: Distressed gentlewomen



Since Edwin died, I have lived with my sister Margot in the Batavia, an Art Deco apartment building on beautiful West Tenth Street in Greenwich Village. This arrangement has made a great deal of sense for us both:  I lost my husband without warning, and Margot lost her entire life's savings to the Ponzi schemer whose name we dare not speak.
      Though we call ourselves roommates, we are definitely more than that, something on the order of wartime trenchmates. She refers to me fondly as her boarder -- ironic, of course. because no one confuses a boarding house with an apartment reached via an elevator button marked PH. In a sense, we live in both luxury and poverty, looking out over the Hudson while stretching the contents of tureens of stews and soups that Margot cooks expertly and cheerfully.
      She takes cookbooks out of the library and finds recipes that add a little glamour to our lives without expensive ingredients, so a pea soup that employs a ham bone might start with sautéed cumin seeds or a grilled cheese sandwich is elevated to an entrée with the addition of a exotic slaw on the plate. We mostly get along fine, and our division of labor is fair:  cook and dishwasher, optimist and pessimist.

from The View from Penthouse B, by Elinor Lipman

I was a little disappointed at first, when I realized that I wasn't going to find myself on the streets where I used to live in Elinor Lipman's new book, but I think we're going to be fine. She's one of my favorite writers. Besides, I'm not exactly a boarder, but there is a button marked PH in our elevator, and a stack of cookbooks from the library on my living room floor, and other resonances for me here. I'm definitely looking forward to this week's commute. :)

3 comments:

JoAnn said...

I was SO tempted by this one on NetGalley! Enjoy your commute ;-)

Cosy Books said...

As you know I rarely leave England in my reading but this sounds quite tempting! And suddenly there's a yearning for grilled cheese...

Claire (The Captive Reader) said...

I read this on Saturday and really enjoyed it, maybe not so much as some of Lipman's earlier books but it is still excellent!

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