Friday, 11 July 2014

The Closet of Savage Mementos

(image from New Island Books)
This is going to be another post about books (and a wee bit of food!) I'm afraid.  Quite simply these long warm light summer evening are just perfect for lounging around with a great book and as the World Cup and the continued house renovations have employed most of Mr S's time, I have been taking the opportunity to escape into print, mostly fiction. There have been many recommendations that have passed around my book-club this year, but there has been only one exceptional novel that has achieved a consensus of enthusiastic approval.
The Closet of Savage Mementos is one of those books that will surprise and delight you with the skill and vitality of it's story telling. The characters continue to haunt you long after the final page has been read, you wish that it had been slightly longer so you could tarry a while longer in their company. Yet, there are no uneasy gaps in the plot, the characters have been allowed to have enough room within the novel to impart empathy yet retain a realistic unknowability. Nuala Ni Chonchuir tells a very particular story of love, the lightning-strike of passion and the impact of its absence but Lillis's story is also a universal tale, she is an everyman battling against exceptional circumstances to make her way in life, a life marked by great love and great loss.

Our book-club is lucky enough to have some very pro-active members, Pavlova Queen Fi who does all the Facebooking/admin and organising, Margaret who organises some great 'meet the author' nights and opens up her home and library to us and who blogs from here. Not forgetting, Lisa, who is a prolific blogger, bookseller, writer and book-fairy and who blogs from here. I just turn up occasionally and drink my coffee/wine and offer an opinion or two. In the past I have never really been that concerned to meet any authors, perhaps because they have always seemed very remote or perhaps being content with the book as a stand-alone piece of art.

However, last week when Nuala Ni Chonchuir graciously took some time out to meet us I was really looking forward to the evening, there was just something about that book! Having read it a good few weeks ago, I thought I better scan through, however it is so good I found myself properly re-reading again.We had a wonderful time chatting with Nuala, and getting some of the background to the novel, the process of writing and the experience of working with all the team who contribute to the process of publishing and marketing a book. I would recommend to any of you also in book-clubs to not only read this particular book but also to have a go and organise a 'meet-the-author' for yourselves.

As well as having a good natter, we always bring some food and drink to the hosts table. Cooking and drinking lovely wine in combination with book-talk - are for me - a sublime trinity of pleasure. For this night we had some dietary requirements to consider, one vegetarian, one person completely gluten-free and some other ladies trying to cut down on the amount of gluten in their diet. It was also a gorgeous warm summer evening. So a quick browse of the net, resulted in these two lovely recipes:

Pasta Salad with Haloumi and Lemon

I marinated the grated courgette for around an hour and a half in the dressing and replaced half of the olive oil with some camellia oil. This camellia oil is produced locally to me in the beautiful Boyne Valley and is apparently very high in omega 3,6 & 9 and has a delicious if slightly unusual nutty taste. I also replaced the pasta with a gluten-free alterative.

My sweet contribution is one of my favourite gluten-free recipes, these brownies are so scrumptious and just so easy to make. My kids go mad for these and of-course love licking the bowl after mixing. I didn't make the sauce as we were going to have a selection of goodies.
Nigella's Peerless Flourless Chocolate Brownies

Click on the titles for the links!
Enjoy-let me know if you try these! xxxx


  1. You were the loveliest hosts, and Shauna, your halloumi salad & brownies were tdf, nom nom. Thanks for this great post. Nuala x

  2. What a perfect summer post. Oh how I would love to ask Sarah Waters what 'The Little Stranger' was all about. Great recipes too.

    Jean xx

    1. Oh me too Jean! That book gave me the shivers when I read it. Thanks so much for your kind words.

  3. Thank you Nuala, so glad you had fun and enjoyed the food. It was a pleasure to share both
    Shauna. x