Into the Water, by Paula Hawkins

River with Wooden Mill House

James Stark (1794-1859) British

Hawkins hit a grand slam with her debut novel, The Girl on the Train. (See review: https://daeandwrite.wordpress.com/2015/01/27/crossing-the-tracks-girl-on-the-train-by-paula-hawkins/) In my mind, Into the Water gets closer to a ground hit, runner to second. It’s interesting, it’s fun, it keeps your mind occupied. But it lacks the WOW of Hawkins’ first effort.

Into the Water opens in picturesque Beckford, England with the mysterious death of a local woman, she’s found floating in the pool which is the subject of her book in progress. “The Drowning Pool” is Nel Abbot’s exploration of the infamous river pool location of the deaths of many generations of “troublesome women.” These women died as a result of being sunk during a witchcraft trial, a suicide, a murder, a mystery.

The Duckingstool by Charles Stanley Reinhart

credit bettmann/getty images

No one quite knows what led Nel Into the Water. Not her daughter Lena. Not her estranged sister Jules. Not the close-mouthed Detective Inspector or the newly-arrived Detective Sergeant, or the high school principal, or her teacher, or the mother of the fifteen year old who committed suicide in the pool only weeks before. None of them know but they all take over the narrative long enough to tell you what they don’t know and why.

Of course, once Nel is dead, Jules her sister must come back to the Mill House, the place where bad things happened when the two were teens. Jules returns to help Lena, Nel’s daughter, during the investigation.

. . . I heard the water, and I smelled the earth, the earth in the shadow of the house, underneath the trees, in the places untouched by sunlight, the acrid stink of rotting leaves, and the smell transported me back in time.

I pushed the front door open, half expecting to hear my mother’s voice calling out to me from the kitchen. Without thinking, I knew that I’d have to shift the door with my hip, at the point where it sticks against the floor. I stepped into the hallway and closed the door behind me, my eyes struggling to focus in the gloom; I shivered at the sudden cold.

Jules contends with her own past trauma, a ghost or two, the mystery of the present, an understandably-cranky teenager and the town psychic who appears throughout Into the Water every few chapters to mutter glumly to herself much like the homeless lady who I encounter every few days wanting to draw my portrait as a mermaid.

Part of the problem for me may have been that I listened to the book on audible and into the water.jpgrather than one reader, there were multiple readers straining to milk the melodrama from each sentence of Into the Water. For example, “No one liked to think about the fact that the water in that river was infected with the blood and bile of persecuted women, unhappy women; they drank it every day.”

Truthfully, I kept waiting for Into the Water to — you know — get good! but instead it just seemed waterlogged with too many potential tributaries and red herrings. Forgive the water puns, I couldn’t resist.

Despite really trying, the ending just didn’t meet my expectations. It must be hard to have a really great debut novel because then everything thereafter is measured by the first. I wanted Into the Water to be my first great beach read of 2017, and it’s fine, but it’s not the book I wanted it to be.

MENU

If your book club does read Into the Water, and I would wager many will — it’s currently the #1 book in America and the screen rights have been purchased by the team behind La La Land —  the menu I would serve is inspired by the book.

Screwdrivers: OJ & Vodka

Watermelon Balls

Carr’s Water Crackers with Stilton cheese and Fig Jam

Cornichons (in a pickle — another pun)

Spaghetti Bolognese. Jules whips this up for Lena on a couple of occasions. I’ve never made it but it doesn’t look like a quick recipe. Leave plenty of time to develop flavor. Here’s the food.com version: http://www.food.com/recipe/traditional-spaghetti-bolognese-21242#activity-feed

MUSIC

Handel’s Water Music is appropriately titled but entirely too upbeat for this moody, dark atmosphere of Into the Water.

If you want to create a playlist, here are my suggestions:

Black Water, Doobie Brothers

Smoke on the Water, Deep Purple

The Hazards of Love 4 The Drowned, The Decemberists https://youtu.be/bRLSaBZV1Eo

There’s also a band called The Drowning Pool — I have no idea what they sound like but you could check them out.

Happy Reading!

 

 

 

My 2015 Favorite Reads

books

The year has been memorable for many things: personal, professional and global. A few of those things have been great reads.

euphoriaEuphoria, by Lily King. One of my first reads of the year and still one of the best. Here’s my earlier post: https://daeandwrite.wordpress.com/2015/01/17/love-in-the-time-of-malaria-euphoria-by-lily-king/

 

The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins. Page-turning, mind-51oYEfb+0WL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_twisting, fun. https://daeandwrite.wordpress.com/2015/01/7/crossing-the-tracks-girl-on-the-train-by-paula-hawkins/

 

danish girl book

The Danish Girl, by David Ebershoff. I can’t remember ever reading such a compelling book at the exact moment in time the subject of the book was such a global phenomenon. I can’t wait to see the movie. https://daeandwrite.wordpress.com/2015/08/04/call-me-lili-the-danish-girl-by-david-ebershoff/

Saint Monkey cover

Saint Monkey, by Jacinda Townsend. A perfect mix of jazz, Southern history and coming of age. https://daeandwrite.wordpress.com/2015/11/05/growing-up-saint-monkey-by-jacinda-townsend/

 

Patron Saint Cover 65

The Patron Saint of Ugly, by Marie Manilla. A beautiful, magical journey to the home of a reluctant saint in an Italian village in West Virginia. https://daeandwrite.wordpress.com/2015/10/15/holy-reluctance-batman-the-patron-saint-of-ugly-by-marie-manilla/

 

the rocks

The Rocks, by Peter Nichols. Actual Italian location, family problems, romance and history. https://daeandwrite.wordpress.com/2015/10/31/falling-the-rocks-by-peter-nichols/

I can’t wait to dig into next year’s reading pile: The Secret Chord, A Little Life, White Teeth, My Brilliant Friend, Mosquitoland, Bringing up the Bodies and Flight Behavior are all waiting.

I hope your 2015 included at least a few great reads too! Happy Reading!

 

 

My Reading Year

calendar

“Overdue Book Calendar” auntjune’s Etsy shop.

As the New Year approaches, I have begun a review of this one. What did I accomplish, what did I fail to accomplish, what is worth remembering and what would I rather forget? I’ve had the pleasure of traveling to the San Miguel Writers Conference, attending the Carnegie Center of Lexington’s Books in Progress Conference, the Kentucky Women Writers Conference and the Appalachian Writers Workshop. I met and learned from a number of wonderful writers, including: Rosalind Brackenbury; Jacinda Townsend; Marie Manilla; Hannah Pittard; Ronni Lundy; Scott Turow; Rebecca Gayle Howell; Robert Gipe; and David Joy. Most overwhelmingly joyously, I signed with Folio Literary Management’s Senior Vice President Erin Cartwright Niumata for representation. My website is up and running, pameladae.com, and Erin has my novel “After the Race” out to multiple editors and publishers for sale. It’s been a busy, exciting, successful year and I am so thankful for all those who have helped and guided me.

And I’m thankful for you readers. On average, about 100 people read this blog daily. I hope you have found a book you weren’t aware of, or a recipe, or maybe a playlist. I hope it’s made you laugh, or curious, or on occasion, thoughtful.

Today, I’m providing an overview of the books read in my book club. Tomorrow, I’m going to reveal my best reads of 2015 — not necessarily published in 2015. And as always, I’d love to hear what your book club is reading, what your favorite book of 2015 was, what you’re cooking or listening to while you read.

Book Club 2015 Reads

I Am Malala, Malala Yousafzal. Published in 2013, this is the autobiography of the teenage Nobel Prize winner. Our hostess served a Mediterranean platter of hummus, tzitaki, vegetables and pita.

A Dog’s Purpose, Bruce Cameron. See my earlier post: https://daeandwrite.wordpress.com/2015/02/18/a-dogs-purpose-is-apparently-to-make-me-cry/

Delta Scarlett

A Touch of Stardust, Kate Alcott. This novel, published in 2017, is supposed to be about a young woman from Indiana who becomes involved in the lives of Clark Gable and Carole Lombard during the filming of Gone with the Wind. It was simplistic, a bit silly, and our book club was not impressed.

The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins. This book was a success with everyone. See my earlier post: https://daeandwrite.wordpress.com/2015/01/27/crossing-the-tracks-girl-on-the-train-by-paula-hawkins/

Life after Life, Kate Atkinson. Also a big success. I’ve posted about Life After Life and Atkinson’s follow-up A God In Ruinshttps://daeandwrite.wordpress.com/2015/06/06/as-the-world-re-turns-life-after-life-and-a-god-in-ruins-by-kate-atkinson/

Saint Monkey, Jacinda Townsend. Whenever we can find a novel that has a Saint Monkey covertie to our locale, we certainly try to read it. Townsend’s Kentucky to New York odyssey had us in thrall. See my earlier post: https://daeandwrite.wordpress.com/2015/11/05/growing-up-saint-monkey-by-jacinda-townsend/

We Were Liars, E. Lockhart. A Kennedy-esque mystery of sorts. https://daeandwrite.wordpress.com/2015/08/10/kennedyesque-we-were-liars-by-e-lockhart/

archie ap comicUnbecoming, Rebecca Scherm. Another guessing game involving a triplet of would-be thieves with literary undertones and one of our favorites. I need to blog about this. Author Rebecca Scherm, as I understand, went to the same high school as I did.

Black Chalk, Christopher J. Yates. Another twisty page-turner that I can’t believe I haven’t blogged about! Look forward to that one.

Under the Wide and Starry Sky, Nancy Horan. The author of Loving Frank, which we all loved, followed up with this novel about Robert Louis Stevenson and his wife, which we did not love. See my earlier post: https://daeandwrite.wordpress.com/2015/11/18/rls-under-the-wide-and-starry-sky-and-treasure-island/

Logo_-_MameMame, Patrick Dennis. Who doesn’t love Auntie Mame with her outrageous clothing, behavior, match-making and travels? It was a perfect, classic to end the year.

 

So there’s our year of book club reads. Tomorrow, my favorite reads of 2015.

Happy Reading!

 

 

Crossing the Tracks: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Engine-Steam-Train-Vehicles-Locomotives-Track-Smoke-Wheels-Old-Retro-Classic-Wallpaperswide

     I was browsing my local book sellers a week or so after New Year and picked up a hardbound book on the fiction shelf. The cover was bright, green and black with blurred lines of type:  The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins.  “Ah yes, I think I heard of this, NPR, maybe?” I said to my buddy, Proprietor Wyn Morris.  “It’s supposed to be the new Gone Girl,” Wyn nodded sagely.  “Really?”  “Indeed.”  I plonked down my cash and took it home, vowing to place it at the top of the “to read” pile.

     Here’s a link to the NPR review:  http://www.npr.org/2015/01/13/376167043/girl-on-the-train-pays-homage-to-hitchcock.

51oYEfb+0WL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

     Much like Gone Girl, there are exceedingly unreliable narrators though in this case, two women.  One the girl of the title.  She, Rachel, is on the train because she’s riding it into London, pretending to go to her office from which she’s been fired for getting wasted during a client lunch.  The train trip also allows her to spy on her ex-husband’s house and the nearby home of a young married couple (Megan and Scott) around whom she has created a elaborate fantasy.  As Rachel sips from yet another canned Gin & Tonic (yuck by the way), or pours herself a glass of wine from the brown paper bag on her tray table.  I couldn’t help but think train travel must be quite a bit different in the UK, but then again, I’ve only travelled by train in the US once that I can think of so for all I know loads of people are carting canned G&T’s with them all over the place.

 463af3281c0deac977e7b2e672908899

     Megan is the second narrator of the novel.  When Megan disappears, Rachel over-involves herself in helping Scott to find his wife.  Unfortunately, since Rachel was near the scene of Megan’s disappearance and in a dead-drunk blackout, her help is mostly in name only.

     It would be impossible to describe much more of the plot without ruining your read.  I will say, for those who were disappointed in the conclusion of Gone Girl, you will not find the same frustration here.  There is quite the corker of an ending.

MENU

     Other than a breakfast of eggs and bacon, I don’t recall anyone eating any food in this book.  There was an incredible amount of alcohol however.  So I’ve taken that as my cue for menu planning:

DRUNKEN CHICKEN

Ingredients
1 (3-pound) chicken
Seasoned salt
House seasoning, recipe follows
1 (12-ounce) can beer
1 sprig rosemary

Directions
Preheat a charcoal grill over high heat. When the coals are hot and glowing, carefully push them over to the sides of the grill, leaving an open space in the middle of the grill. Wash and drain chicken. Coat the chicken inside and out with seasoned salt, pepper, lemon pepper and/or garlic powder. Open the can of beer and carefully insert a sprig of rosemary. Then, place the beer can into the body cavity starting at the rear of the chicken. Carefully place the chicken on the center of the grill, facing 1 of the banks of the coals, making sure not to spill the beer. Cover the grill and cook until chicken is done, approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour, turning the chicken as necessary. The chicken is done when the juice runs clear.

PASTA WITH GIN SAUCE

You’ve heard of vodka sauce?  Well, Macheesmo says his Gin Penne Pasta is even better.  I’m going to try it.  It would go well with the Drunken Chicken and the book theme.  Here’s the recipe link:  http://www.macheesmo.com/2012/01/gin-penne-pasta/

BOURBON BALLS

You CAN make them, but I’d rather buy them from Old Kentucky Candies or Rebecca Ruth.  http://www.oldkycandy.comhttp://rebeccaruth.stores.yahoo.net

Another great dessert would be POACHED PEARS

Peel (carefully) pears.  If you want to serve whole, leave the stem intact.  If you want to serve halves, core them and halve.

In a stainless steel pan, mix four cups red wine with one cup of sugar until sugar dissolves.

Place the pears in the pan, then cover them with a plate to weigh them down and ensure even cooking.  Heat at simmer for ten minutes, then check doneness with a fork.  Continue to simmer to taste.  Remove the fruit with a slotted spoon and serve warm or store in the poaching liquid until ready to serve.

MUSIC

You’re Not Drinking Enough, Don Henley

Crazy, Patsy Cline

Crazy, Gnarls Barkley

Family Tradition, Hank Williams, Jr.

Five O’Clock Somewhere, Alan Jackson

Margaritaville, Jimmy Buffett

Friends in Low Places, Garth Brooks

Paula Hawkins’ Facebook page featured a link to a playlist created especially for The Girl on the Train:  https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLG3OkdArBbNCi2C0f_s1XttGebLGWFiCI.

MOVIE CAST

This, by the way, has lots of potential for a movie.

Rachel — Kate Winslet

Megan — Sienna Miller

Anna — Carey Mulligan

Scott — Tom Hardy

Tom — Christian Bale

UPDATE: The movie version will come out later this year and I didn’t get a single actor right. The producers went with several American actors. Here’s a full list: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3631112/fullcredits?ref_=tt_ov_st_sm

Happy Reading, Eating & Moderate Drinking!