What happens on the patio – “The Supremes at Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat” and other assorted tales

June 25, 2013 at 5:21 pm Leave a comment

I had last week off to stay home, play with my kids and read.  I spent most of my reading time outside on our patio.  I am asked a lot where I find the time to read.  I do work full-time and I have two small children so maybe it seems strange that I can read so much (and I promise I pay attention to my children, oh and my husband).  However there are three things I take with me everywhere in the house – a glass of water, my chapstick (yep, I am addicted) and whatever book I am reading.  So if my kids are playing, napping, self-entertained and don’t need me that is my filler, reading.  I also read every single night in bed before I go to sleep.  It is a stress-relieving technique I have been using for as long as I patiocan remember.  It truly helps quiet my easily anxiety-ridden mind. I also take a book with me almost everywhere – you never know when you are going to be stuck in a long line of bureaucratic ridiculousness or waiting for a friend or just need to relax for a minute.

So all of that said, last week I was able to fit in three books.  All three were good but my absolute favorite was the last read of my stay-cation.

1. “The Blue Castle” by L.M. Montgomery, Published in 1921: I had not heard of this book until recently.  It is one of Montgomery’s adult fiction books.  Her main character, Valancy, is a 29-year-old spinster who lives with her very stodgy mother and extended family.  She has spent her life being the uninteresting member of the family and has been expected to abide by a very long list of rules of propriety.   And Valancy does act accordingly, until she finds out that she has a fatal heart condition with only a year left to live.  So Valancy, realizing she has not been happy a day in her life, packs up and moves in to nurse her friend Cissy who is dying.  While caring for Cissy, Valancy falls in love with Barney Snaith who visits Cissy and her father frequently.  Once Cissy dies, Valancy proposes to Barney assuring him that he will only be stuck with her for a year because of her failing heart.  He agrees to the marriage and so Valancy’s life truly begins.

This book is cute. Valancy’s family is hilarious and really make this book enjoyable.  Montgomery has such a wonderful grasp on creating incorrigible characters and even her worst characters are somehow still endearing.    The character of Valancy pales in comparison to Montgomery’s brilliant creation – Anne of Green Gables- but she is still loveable in her own way.

2. “Blackberry Winter” by Sarah Jio, Published in 2012:  This is no “Violets of March” but overall this is again another Jio story that is well done and a fast read.  In May of 2010, Seattle is hit by a very rare late season snow storm.  In fact, this type of storm only happened one other time – back in 1933.  Claire is a reporter for the Seattle Herald and her editor assigns her the task of writing a piece on the storm of 2010 and the storm of 1933.  While researching the 1933 storm, Claire comes across the story of Vera Ray a single mother who had gone to work on the morning of the storm only to return home and find her three-year old son Daniel missing.  Claire is immediately fascinated by the story and begins trying to piece together what happened to Daniel.  Of course, all of this happens while Claire is also trying to heal from her own tragic loss.

Jio jumps the narration from the 1933 story of Vera Ray to the 2010 of Claire.  It is done seamlessly.  The story is predictable and there is a lot of happenstance but somehow this does not make it any less enjoyable.  And I admit to being a bit teary eyed at the end.  This is a really good summer read.

3. “The Supremes at Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat” by Edward Kelsey Moore, Published in 2013: I have absolutely no idea why there is not more chatter about this book.  It was such an amazing read. It was funny and sad and meaningful and crazy and on and on. Simply put this is the story of three friends, Clarice, Odette and Barbara Jean, who grew up together in the small town of Plainview, Indiana.   They come of age in the 50s and 60s when being an African-American woman meant your choices were limited so they have to, in a sense, make their own way.  In their youth they all hang-out at Earl’s Diner and this creates a life-long tradition of meeting there every Sunday after church- eventually with husbands and children in tow.  They raise their children together, have heartache together, struggle with illness (and hot flashes) together and know each other better than anyone.

The writer is a man but he writes his women characters with such accuracy and care – his writing talent is impressive.  What I absolutely loved was the fact that the three women were friends with deep ties to each other.  It reflected real relationships with the ups and downs but not any of the soap opera ridiculousness you often find in books about women and friendship.  Some of the ancillary characters are silly but they are still wonderful – particularly Big Earl’s second wife, Minnie, who runs a fortune-telling business at one of the tables in the diner complete with a turban and a bell.  I found Clarice’s niece’s wedding so wonderfully hilarious I could not stop laughing.  Moore also tackles some very tough issues of race and family but allows the humor to give even more depth to these hard topics, one of those it-is-so-awful-you-have-to-laugh moments. A book where I fall in love with the characters and can laugh out-loud is a rare find.  This is the book to take with you on vacation or to the pool or really anywhere. Please just read it. It is such a great book.

That’s my stay-cation. And so, I have returned to work *deep sigh* but will hopefully still be found in the evenings on the patio with a book…and maybe a child running through the sprinkler.

Other reviews to check out:


Entry filed under: June 2013 reads. Tags: , , , , .

Oh just tell the truth already – “Drowning Ruth” by Christine Schwarz The inevitable future – “Appointment in Samarra” by John O’Hara

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There is some great literature out there, but there is a lot of bad literature as well. We shouldn't all have to read it. These are my recommendations and thoughts about the books I read.


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