Tuesday, March 10, 2015

the novel bakers present...

bettyville: a memoir~

"A witty, tender memoir of a son’s journey home to care for his irascible mother—a tale of secrets, silences, and enduring love. When George Hodgman leaves Manhattan for his hometown of Paris, ...

Missouri, he finds himself—an unlikely caretaker and near-lethal cook—in a head-on collision with his aging mother, Betty, a woman of wit and will.

Will George lure her into assisted living? When hell freezes over. He can’t bring himself to force her from the home both treasure—the place where his father’s voice lingers, the scene of shared jokes, skirmishes, and, behind the dusty antiques, a rarely acknowledged conflict: Betty, who speaks her mind but cannot quite reveal her heart, has never really accepted the fact that her son is gay.

As these two unforgettable characters try to bring their different worlds together, Hodgman reveals the challenges of Betty’s life and his own struggle for self-respect, moving readers from their small town—crumbling but still colorful—to the star-studded corridors of Vanity Fair."

everyone has a story to tell, and now its time for george to share his intimate moments with one of the most challenging times in ones lifetime. with complete openness and candor he shares poignantly the moments that make up an hour, a day, a lifetime...

"i polish the silver, fix her meals, buy her new bracelets, leave peppermint patties under her pillow, drive her to the battalion of doctors. i buy her mountains of fresh fruit, still-like ice cream-a luxury for a woman raised in the country during the depression. even after decades of relative prosperity, a bowl of strawberries remains a thing of beauty to her, a wonderful surprise. she spies them with the delight of an excited girl"

"her face in the pane is like streaks of a watercolor. even though she is old, i think she is more beautiful than ever, softer. you would never guess her age until she speaks. i do my best to make sure that when she looks in the mirror, there is someone who is familiar though sometimes nothing else is. when dealing with older women, a trip to the hairdresser and two bloody marys goes further than any prescription drug."

i never like to share much about a book, to me, the enjoyment in reading is the unknown, cracking open a fresh book is just like life, you never know what will be coming at you. rest assured george bares his soul, there are heart breaking moments, the good, the bad and the ugly. since we are the "novel bakers" what stood out the most for me was how betty asks for food made from her mothers recipes: pimento cheese, lemon pies, burned sugar cakes, oysters, peppered fiercely and baked with saltine crackers.

this book is a true slice of american life,

every bite a mix of sweet...

and tart 

with highs

and lows...

but always refreshing...

be sure and stop by and visit bettysville with 

thank you mlee for getting us advanced copies of this book


  1. Delicious and beautiful as always with your attention to detail! I love your flower studded silver polished tray with strawberries and peaks of highs and lows of your lemon meringue pie! Your citrus sends me ...*sigh* along with those fresh picked ripe red berries. I love your addition of the NYT's article and the Paris sign is such a fun touch too! I could a Bloody Mary or two this morning...:)

  2. Hi Jain, "Every bite a mix of sweet and tart, with highs and lows..." such an appropriate metaphor for life as you care for an aging parent. Your photos are so gorgeous. I can't believe you have those strawberries already! We are still buried in snow and ice and there are no blossoms or even buds yet. I can't decide whether to start with a bowl of them or a slice of lemon meringue pie--one of my favorites--but I'll definitely add a bloody mary to my order. They look delicious! Thank you for your beautiful and interesting introduction to this book! Linda

  3. I have loved seeing how all 3 of you have reviewed this book and presented it so beautifully, and differently! I can not wait to get it and also sent the link to MY gay son an thing he might like to read it also. Your photos are gorgeous. I am craving cinnamon rolls!!!!!

  4. Beautiful!!! I hate that the publisher didn't get back to me in time :(

  5. Jain, your photos are scrumptious, gorgeous, and deeply metaphorical. The flower-strewn strawberries (they were on my grocery list, but Bandy refused to buy the paltry offerings at he grocery) are breathtaking. I love how your meringue echoes the highs and lows of every life. Just remarkable. I've never in my life seen such beautiful bloody Marys, and as soon as I kick this concussion to the curb, I'm cracking open the Grey Goose and making a few. I know the publisher and author will love your edible review. Thanks for being our organizer and for always inspiring me.

  6. Thank you for sharing your insight on this incredibly bittersweet story of George and Betty~ I especially loved the highs and lows of your tart lemon pie~ and the marriage of strawberries and mini blossoms~ a bloody mary to take the edge off, is like chicken soup for a cold, a natural remedy! Looking forward to more smiles this week~

  7. In love with your Paris sign! '-)
    And why can't we buy strawberries like the ones in your photos? Oh, my! I was thinking I wanted a bowl of strawberries until I scrolled down to the pie. No question, I'm going to have to have lemon meringue pie tomorrow!
    Great post!

  8. I cannot wait to read the book! Your photos have made it so appealing. And talk about appealing...that meringue is just beautiful...you are truly a baker.