Posts in Literary Event
Literary Dinner Parties: A How-To Guide

So I'm sure you've all seen our literary dinner parties around here: we obviously love to throw them. Each time we post a new one, we find that we get a lot of comments and questions about it, so we thought we'd explain our basic formula for setting them up. We don't spend a lot of time or money on them, but they are a ton of fun, and we promise they are 100% achievable for anybody!

1. Round up items in your house- The first thing you're going to need to do is think about what items you already have in your home that make sense for the novel. Draw on anything the novel mentions in addition to considering the setting carefully. For a party like The Awakening, there wasn't a ton of food or decor reference, but it was a southern summer at the end of the 19th century, and that gave us a lot to go on. Go through your house and consider your every day objects as well as any special occasion decor you have and ask yourself if they fit the tone/mood/setting of your novel. You'll be surprised at how much will work, I promise! Seriously, 99% of everything we use in our dinner parties are objects we had in our homes to begin with, and so many of them show up again and again because they adapt to many different vibes. Think creatively and outside the box, too! Pull that plant from your windowsill, go through your holiday decor, etc.

2. Pool your resources- If you're close with any of your attendees, ask them if they will rummage through their own homes to bring stuff, too. Rikki has brought me potted plants, scraps of fabric, jars of sand, vintage glass vessels, and even antlers to add to our party decor. Pooling our resources has really allowed us to flesh out our decor without spending a dime. 

3. Shop thrift stores and clearance- If you've sincerely got some gaps, or want something specific for your party, go check out thrift stores and clearance sections of stores like Target, Home Goods, World Market, or wherever it is you like to shop. I've scored some epic deals on items that were PERFECT for my themes. Dollar stores and dollar sections of places like Target can be gold mines, too. Most of my parties, if I buy anything at all, I spend under $10. That red table runner from Game of Thrones? Thrift Store for $2. Those cute napkins from Gatsby? Home Goods clearance for practically nothing. 

4. Use your color printer- Having a solid color printer was game changing for my party throwing. Suddenly I could download and print fun things off of Etsy or from sites that offer them for free (check out Pinterest!), and create interesting, impactful decor with some basic crafting skills. Check out my wall of faces, or my favorite Fitzgerald quote to see what I mean.

5. Identify key spaces in your house to decorate- Decide where your guests will spend most of their time. At your table? In your living room? Outside? Wherever it is, determine which walls, what spaces, and which flat surfaces you want to decorate. Take a good look at how much space you have, and consider vignettes that would make sense in each space. This might mean scooting a table over, adding in some chairs, but nothing too intense. This is about working with what you have and trying to see it with fresh eyes. Maybe you set a framed quote and a vase of flowers on a coffee table, or hang a banner on a key wall, or fully tablescape your dining room table, which brings us to...

6. Create a tablescape- Go back to identifying not only mood/setting etc of your book, but maybe flip back through and see what kinds of key details are mentioned in the text it's self (taking quick notes on your phone while you're reading helps a ton here). The Awakening mentioned yellow and red roses, Gatsby mentioned piles of citrus, Jane Eyre mentions her love of books, Under the Tuscan Sun is full of decor references. Whatever it is for your book, pick some highlights and mix them together with all the objects you gathered up. We generally are fans of fresh flowers, candlelight, and all those relevant objects arranged artfully together. Some sort of base like a placemat, a table runner, or even a tray or platter is usually a good starting point, and then just mix your items until it looks good to your eye. Pay attention to shape and proportion and overall vibe with your finished scene. I've used things like a bunny statue from my personal Easter decor and spare bits of raffia for The Secret Garden to add details from the book onto my table, and little touches like that really make your tablescape feel true to the book.

7. Plan a menu- Again, go back to the text and look for specific food references, or consider the setting and decide what kinds of foods would be appropriate. We had a hard time with Wuthering Heights because all the food mentioned in it was disgusting, so we went with something appropriate for the setting in general vs food specifically mentioned in the text (boiled milk in dirty porridge, anyone?). There are so many resources online or in cookbooks for recipes specifically mentioned in novels, too! We love Cara and Bryton, especially, and have drawn on them for inspiration many times. Don't forget to pair drinks with your menu, whether it be wine, cocktails or non-alcoholic options!

8. Decide if you want a special feature- Maybe you want a signature cocktail, have a game planned, have a discussion format in mind, or even just want to cozy up to watch the movie adapatation. Just dream up any of those extra details that will enhance your dinner. In the past we've done mini-cocktail workshops, watched movies, had formal tea service, and even decorated a cake together at our dinner parties!

You'll see we definitely have a range of how much we decorate, and how much effort we put into our literary dinner parties, but the most important thing is that you're bringing the book to life in a way that feels authentic and meaningful to you, and that you have a lasting memory of your fabulous party tied to that book! 

Would you try out a literary dinner party? Show us by tagging us #therdentbiblioreads or shoot us an e-mail! We'd love to see!

A "Game of Thrones" Premiere Party

Winter is HERE! This past Sunday was the long awaited premiere for season 7 of Game of Thrones, and of course we threw a dinner party for it! Also SPOILERS if you're not caught up through the end of season 6 (no spoilers for the premiere episode, we promise!)

We are definitely taking full advantage of outdoor spaces while it's still gorgeous and summery out here in the PNW, but unlike Gatsby, we wanted this one to feel darker; more like things were dying rather than a roaring 20's party. We, of course, chose to go with a kind of medieval feel outside, and the red table runner also looked sort of like a red carpet, which seemed perfect for a premiere! Flowers were darker and more minimal, and we made sure the light was at the center of it all, since the dark days of winter are upon us in Westeros. We tried to keep the color palette to blacks, grays, browns, reds, and navy throughout, and chose the darkest, most foreboding flowers we could find. The sign above the bar was just printed letters I cut and hole punched and strung on black twine I had on hand.

Rikki's husband hunts and loaned us the antlers, and we scattered candles and made the "Winter is Coming" sign from a free stock image and the free Game of Thrones font. Copper mule mugs and thrift store goblets got mixed in with alcohol bottles and our flowers.

Food this time was more spare, and kept to our darker color palette. Rikki made DELICIOUS black bread, and we of course used it for guest rite; bread and salt. No red weddings at this dinner party, we promise! We made a vertical cheese plate, complete with ash rind brie, blueberries, cornichons, salami slices, roasted garlic and onion jam, and some other cheeses with flat bread crackers.

Of course we had to do drinks with our appetizers, so my brother mixed up our signature cocktail for the night (in Lannister colors!) and I made some Moscow Mules. The Lioness was basically a whiskey sour with a red wine float, and tasted like sangria, which was fun for a summer party!

Cheers to Jon Snow, my favorite character!

Back inside, I had set up a "Valar Morghulis" banner, and created a kind of scorecard/play on the walls of faces of the Nameless God. All the major players through the series were represented, with the deceased printed off in grayscale, and the survivors in color. I grouped them loosely by house and added a "weirwood tree" which was just $12 of gladiolus from Trader Joe's, cut and arranged in a champagne bucket. Add in a cool branch candleholder I got 90% off at Target, a stack of books, and a framed Night's Watch Oath, and we had ourselves a very thrones-y scene for our viewing party. I made the cheesecake earlier that morning, and just made a simple strawberry sauce we poured over a raspberry pile to make it look kind of bloody and menacing; because the show is nothing if not bloody.

Back outside it was dinner time! We wanted all the food to look rustic and unfriendly, so we chose to do some dry rubbed ribs, steamed artichokes, and a mediterranean salad, alongside goblets of "Dornish Red". The candles had all started melting down beautifully at this point so we regrouped them all at the center of the table.

Dinner was pretty lively, everyone had had a couple drinks in them (except Rikki—sorry friend! October is close!) and we were chatting and laughing until we realized darkness was falling and it was starting to get late. We went inside to slice up the cheesecake then reconvened around the light for a little more conversation before the show. *cue intro music*

gameofthrones_069.jpg

What did you guys think of the premiere episode?!?!

 

 

Literary Dinner | The Great Gatsby

So our buddy-read for June was The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. It was Rikki's first time reading it, and my fifth since it's a favorite re-read for me! We normally see Gatsby parties done in an explosion of black and gold, and while those elements are fun, we were shooting for something that was a bit truer to the feel of the novel. We focused on two main scenes of the book: the party at Gatsby's mansion, and the tea at Nick's house where Gatsby arranges to meet Daisy. In both scenarios, his wealth and opulence are very much on display: through flowers, through food, and through flowing champagne. 

I admit we did more work on this one than usual, but the whole thing (including crafting, food prep, and set up) still only took about 2 hours. I had had this book on my brain for months knowing I would want to do a summer literary dinner party for it, and really do right by it since it's one of my very favorite novels. This mainly meant that I was picking up details like napkins, skewers, bits of gold fringe, etc. on clearance for the last couple months as I saw them, allowing me to spend practically nothing on decor. It came out to under $10. 

The first scene we focused on was a rendering of one of Gatsby's parties, to which we were careful to incorporate specific details from the book. We created an appetizer-heavy menu of pigs in a blanket, egg salad sandwiches, melon/proscuitto/mozarella/balsamic skewers, and a fully loaded cheese and charcuterie platter alongside champagne for a cocktail hour. We were careful to focus largely on foods that were appropriate for the time period or mentioned in the book. Some candles and flowers in vessels we had around our houses completed the scene. We honestly just pull items from our houses and use and re-use them in different contexts, and it always comes together nicely! 

Behind our appetizer-laden table, I set up an outdoor bar. This is where a little crafting and attention to detail came into play. I downloaded a free font I liked to create both the "bar" sign and the cocktail menu. For the sign, I printed the letters out large, used a paper cutter to get them into even rectangles, punched holes in it, and threaded it on some, yes, black and gold twine that I had from a leftover Halloween craft. I then used some simple Elmer's glue and gold glitter (again leftover from some other craft) to make the marquee dots, and hot glued some $0.50 fringe I got on clearance at Target to the bottoms of the pieces to complete them. Some tacks in my fence set at a jaunty angle, and we were set!

For the cocktail menu, I found a free pattern online that I printed off, then used the same font to type up the menu, and the same gold glittered dots from before, and hot glued the same fringe as the "bar" sign to complete the look. Then I stuck it in a frame that I had in my house and it was done! Those two crafts took me a combined 20 minutes, and cost me $0.50. 

The bar its self was an Ikea side table we had, and I just pulled out items from my home bar in my dining room, including: the champagne bucket (which was my mother's), cocktail glasses, a bottle of gin, a cocktail shaker, a shot glass, and martini glasses we filled with citrus as a nod to the book mentioning Gatsby's citrus piles at his parties. The orchid I got at Trader Joe's to invoke all the times orchids are mentioned to signal wealth in the novel, and the fairy-light lantern was something we had on hand. The stacked books are my very favorite editions of Fitzgerald's works by Alma Classics. 

This quote was my biggest splurge for the party, but it's always been my favorite. It's currently available for $5 as an instant download over on Etsy. This is in no way affiliated, I just really enjoyed this piece. It's housed in another frame I already had, and Rikki had the brilliant idea to lean it up against the bar on the ground!

Back over at the table it was champagne toasts to Fitzgerald and book discussion time while we ate our feast! As I mentioned....this is one of my favorite novels of all time, and I was just so excited Rikki had read it! We talked about themes, and recurring imagery, and all kinds of fun stuff and just sat back and enjoyed ourselves.

My husband came home from work as we were winding down our discussion, so it was time to make some cocktails! We focused on two that were imbibed by the characters in the book: a gin rickey and a mint julep. Like anyone else would, we took to the internet to teach us for this mini cocktail workshop and kind of just rolled with it.

After dinner and cocktails, we started imagining what it would be like to attend the afternoon tea Gatsby arranged for Daisy at Nick's. We made lemon cakes (Nick bought them at a bakery!) and piled all our flowers and candles onto the table to recreate the lush feeling that Gatsby would have devised at Nick's. Glasses of iced tea for this summer evening dessert completed the scene.

Darkness had fully fallen at this point, and it was past time for the kiddos to be in bed, so we took one last glance out at the glowing evening scene and parted.

Have you read The Great Gatsby? What did you think? Cheers to another successful dinner party!

Literary Dinner | Under the Tuscan Sun

Under the Tuscan Sun was such a lovely change of pace from our previously read classics and dinner parties. As we have very slowly emerged into summer, it was quite blissful to be whisked away to sunny Italy, then recreate a simple, yet lovely pasta dish from the book itself, after treating ourselves to appetizers and drinks outside. We kept this literary dinner party quite true to the format of dinners in the book, with wildflowers, a no-fuss meal, and warm sunny outdoor elements. We followed this wonderful dinner with the movie and a homemade mascarpone peach custard mentioned in the book. 

Using a fresh, local baguette, topped with bruschetta and basil alongside bite-sized caprese salads, we took our appetizers to the wildflower garden to talk all things Under the Tuscan Sun. The kiddos ran around us, occasionally grabbing a bite to eat, all while we discussed our likes, dislikes, and hopes to someday jet off to Italy to enjoy some of the many food elements she mentions in Italy. Seriously, every thing about the book and dinner was purely delightful.

And then we found ourselves back inside to whip up some spaghetti (seriously one of the quickest spaghetti dishes I've ever made- recipe found in book) that was packed with flavor. We also tried the ever popular tuscan beans with sage, and some more caprese.

Frances Mayes did a brilliant job writing about her experience of renovating a house in Italy, cooking Italian food, meeting locals, touring the backroads, and familiarizing herself with a wonderfully new culture set so far apart from her life at home in San Francisco. I started off taking endless notes on all the food she mentioned making, until I found there were pages of recipes conveniently placed within the chapters. We also had her Italian cookbook providing endless options for dinner parties to come.

Afterwards, I couldn't help but look up real life photos of Bramasole, simply because I wasn't ready to leave Italy. It is as beautiful as she described. I can't even imagine walking through her gardens or stepping foot into the enormous house. I could, however, imagine all the renovations from the completed photos - the stone wall that was painstakingly restored, the brick laid in the kitchen. What a life! What a place to live! It was such a lovely book to read.

Have you read it? Tell us what you thought!

Literary Dinner | The Secret Garden

It was a dark and stormy night....no seriously, it actually was! We anticipated a sunny afternoon for this dinner party, we were even tossing around the idea of a picnic, but instead it POURED. We got a few breaks in the storm, enough for Rikki to work her magic on some of these shots, but make no mistake, rain was pelting my windows and by the time we were cozying up with tea and shortbread, the thunder was booming and the lightning was slicing open the sky in bright bursts. Remember the scene in The Secret Garden when Mary finds Colin during a violent thunderstorm? Yeah. That was us. 

For this one, we really wanted to go heavy on plants and potted flowers, to bring the garden magic inside. Luckily, Rikki is a crazy plant lady and brought over plenty of gorgeous greenery to adorn my table. I pulled all the natural looking elements I had in my house, a pot of violets, a wood serving round, some fake moss, as well as some playful objects like floral napkins, lavender raffia, a ceramic bunny, a leather wrapped vase, plus plenty of candlelight. I also had this amazing skeleton key bottle opener and some floral paper straws for our Rose Lemonades. 

Channeling the kids' meals in the Garden, we went with a fresh, picnic feel for appetizers, just a rustic baguette, some fresh berries, nettle + chive cheese, and pink grapefruit marmalade for a touch of brightness. We spent some time sitting and discussing the book as usual, sipping drinks through pretty straws, and reading favorite passages from the novel. We both love this book; it's a classic for a reason and just explodes with the exuberance of spring. 

In keeping with the whole vibe of picnics and the outdoors, we opted to grill up some chicken and fennel pieces and pair it with a colorful, veggie-filled salad complete with purple carrots, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, and fresh snap peas. 

_RKR5209.jpg

After dinner was when the storm really picked up. The sky had blackened and the thunder was rolling while we watched the 1993 version of the movie, which is the one most of you have probably seen. It's a classic childhood favorite of both of ours, and quite nostalgic, so of course we love it unconditionally. 

With the movie playing, and the lightning cracking, it was the perfect time to cozy up with some tea and shortbread. We tried out a flowering tea, which was so fitting, with some homemade shortbread as a nod to classic English tea times, and which fit with food descriptions in the book. 

_RKR5225.jpg

We really loved doing this dinner party, it was so seasonally on point (despite the storm) and just so fresh and natural and simple. If you're wondering how you can pull this off yourself, stay tuned because we have got some big announcements coming soon! 

Wine Wednesday | The Secret Garden

With spring in full force, we return to one of our all-time favorite springy books: The Secret Garden

For this book, I have three words for you, my friends: Rosé. All. Day. 

“And the roses—the roses! Rising out of the grass, tangled round the sun-dial, wreathing the tree trunks and hanging from their branches, climbing up the walls and spreading over them with long garlands falling in cascades—they came alive day by day, hour by hour. Fair fresh leaves, and buds—and buds—tiny at first but swelling and working Magic until they burst and uncurled into cups of scent delicately spilling themselves over their brims and filling the garden air."

We'll keep this one nice and simple; this is a book that calls for a floral, fruity wine that celebrates the lush mood of the novel and complements all the descriptions of flora in the garden. This novel doesn't need anything heavy or complicated, just fresh lightness tinged with those fruity, floral notes we kind of expect from rosé. You need the kind of refreshing wine you can sip on a warm evening out on your back patio, while you're busy sinking into Burnett's lively descriptions of the garden and the new, bursting spring. Bonus points if you pair it with some light finger foods, like hummus, melon and berries, bruschetta, or cheese plates.

The best thing about rosé is that you don't need to spend as much to get a great bottle, compared to other types of wine. We are particularly fond of this one for it's rose petal and strawberry notes thats backed by some crispness and acidity to firm it up. We're also fans of pretty much everything on this delightful list. Rosé will be pretty easy to find in your local grocery or wine store this time of year, so snag a bottle next time you're out. Cheers!

What wine would you recommend for this novel? We'd love to hear!

 

 

Tips on Starting a Book Club IRL

We obviously loveeeee to talk books online, and there is such a great community available on the internet, but there really is no substitute for the experience of talking about books with real live people in the real world, face-to-face. Community in real life is so important, and the literary one that exists out there is pretty amazing. If you're interested in meeting up with people in person to gush about books and have a great time, here's how to do it.

_RKR7684.jpg

First, check if theres anything locally that particularly strikes your fancy. Between us, Rikki and I attend (separately or together) a Sci-fi/Fantasy book club, a Classics book club, and a Banned Books club. They each are very distinct in their styles, and we found them by combing through the websites of our favorite local bookstores. You can also check for meet-ups in your area (there's a book club near us that meets at a different local brewery each time I've been dying to check out!), and generally just use good old google, to see if you can find the vibe you're looking for.

If meeting up with strangers to talk books isn't your jam, start some conversations about it with your friends. I bet you know some that like to read, or maybe secretly like to read, or would be willing to try it out, or maybe they even know other friends that would be into it. Rikki and I just buddy-read just the two of us and then meet up to talk about the book and watch the movie; proof you definitely don't need a huge group of people to make it worthwhile.

Once you have a group together, decide if there's a specific genre you all are interested in reading, or just do a free-for-all, and take suggestions for books from any genre. You'll probably want to either keep the length of the books reasonable (like max 300 pages) or split longer books (think Gone With the Wind) into chunks over a couple of meetings. It's also worth considering occasionally choosing a book by a local author, or an author that will be touring in your town, and taking a field trip to meet them at a signing or event. 

You'll also need to decide where you'll meet up. Do you want everyone at your house every month, or maybe you can rotate who hosts? You could also easily meet somewhere public; ask a local restaurant if you can use their event room, meet up at the library, see if a local bookstore has space for you, or even convene at a local cafe for coffee. The important thing is that the setting is the most relaxed, fun, place for your specific group to meet. Rikki and I go to each other's houses for our buddy reads, but our other book clubs meet either at a bookstore (which even gives book club members discounts on the books we read!), in a cafe, or in a private room of a local restaurant, which is extra relaxed because everyone inevitably orders a couple drinks and some snacks :)

_RKR4552.jpg

Once you've got a place, agree on a date and time. The flexibility you have will be dependent on your venue, but consider something like meeting the first Sunday of each month for brunch at your place, or the third Tuesday night of every month at a bookstore, whatever works for you guys and your chosen meeting space. Having a simple shared google calendar can also help you easily coordinate schedules, and is definitely worth looking into.

Above all, keep it fun; book clubs should never feel like a chore, or be nerve-wracking to host or attend. The point is to ask interesting questions and have an open discussion of thoughts and feelings about a novel in an easy-going setting. To really kick it up a notch, consider watching film versions of the books you read, pairing cocktails (or wine) to your novels, or even throwing a literary dinner party (look, we aren't the only ones!) specifically themed around the novel. Meetings should feel a bit like a celebration of the book, so do whatever feels good for you!

Lastly, just be sure you keep your book club an open platform for people to make suggestions on anything, and a fun, easygoing place to be. Good luck, friends!

Do you belong to a book club? Or have you started one? Seriously, tell us about it!

 

 

 

 

 

Wine Wednesday | The Enchanted April

So I just finished reading The Enchanted April by Elizabeth Von Arnim the other day, and I completely adored it. While we wait for our own gardens to bloom here in the PNW, an escape to a warm, sunny, flower carpeted Villa in Italy was just plain magical. The only thing better than this book, is this book with a perfectly paired, relaxing glass of wine to help you really sink into the pages.

Since this story is absolutely bursting with descriptions of flowering, bountiful gardens, it only feels natural to pair a wine that is fruit-forward with herbal and floral notes tempered with some spice to celebrate the sun-drenched, flora covered scene of the Villa. Relevant tasting notes lifted directly from the text include cherry, peach, fig, nasturtium (spicy!), and lavender; all flavors often found in wines.

"The wistaria was tumbling over itself in its excess of life, its prodigality of flowering; and where the pergola ended the sun blazed on scarlet geraniums, bushes of them, and nasturtiums in great heaps, and marigolds so brilliant that they seemed to be burning, and red and pink snapdragons, all outdoing each other in bright, fierce colour. The ground behind these flaming things dropped away in terraces to the sea, each terrace a little orchard, where among the olives grew vines on trellises, and fig-trees, and peach-trees, and cherry-trees. The cherry-trees and peach-trees were in blossom--lovely showers of white and deep rose-colour among the trembling delicacy of the olives; the fig-leaves were just big enough to smell of figs, the vine-buds were only beginning to show. And beneath these trees were groups of blue and purple irises, and bushes of lavender, and grey, sharp cactuses, and the grass was thick with dandelions and daisies, and right down at the bottom was the sea. Colour seemed flung down anyhow, anywhere; every sort of colour piled up in heaps, pouring along in rivers....” 

Sangiovese is indigenous to Tuscany (the primary setting in the book!), and is the most planted red grape variety in Italy. Consequently it definitely varies based on it's terroir. Ultimately, sangiovese is a lovely dry red wine that's perfect for this novel as it is absolutely bursting with flavor; fully evocative of the fruits, flowers and earthy richness of the setting. It's also a wine type that really blossoms when enjoyed with food and pairs well with fresh, springy Italian fare: think lamb, pasta, pecorino cheese, or pizza with grilled vegetables.

We love this one from our home state ($12 and my personal favorite) for it's lightness and juicy, bright cherry flavors, as well as this one from Tuscany, which is nice and dry, and full of red fruit tinged with spice. You could also opt for a rosé of sangiovese like this one with a cult following, for a slightly sweeter, crisper experience. 

If you need some more options, here's a great list we found of Sangiovese under $20 complete with wonderfully descriptive flavor profiles for each bottle. Cheers!

What wine would you recommend for this novel? We'd love to hear!

Literary Dinner | A Room With A View

So to wrap up our very first read-a-long, we threw ourselves A Room With A View dinner party to discuss the book and watch the 1985 movie with Helena Bonham Carter, Daniel Day Lewis, Maggie Smith, and Judi Dench. We've talked about how we create our literary dinner parties over here, here, and here, and this was no exception. We were going for a mix of English garden and Italian countryside, and of course trying to bottle up glorious spring! We also took some details directly from the text to really pay proper homage to this wonderfully warm little novel. 

We tend to always begin our dinner parties with some kind of appetizer to set the tone for the evening. This past week we decided to take advantage of the window of sunshine the PNW deigned to bestow on us, and picked up our tray of goodies and headed straight outside. We started off with a glass of Italian wine accompanied by marinated olives and simple caprese skewers, which were set off by a riotous jar of wildflowers.

roomwithaview_002.jpg

Appetizers are such a relaxing way to kick off our dinner parties, and gives us some solid time to catch up on each other's lives and settle into the evening. After a long, dark, dreary winter, the dappled spring sunshine in the late afternoon is such a refreshing change for us, and we took full advantage as we munched and talked while the kids happily sword fought with sticks and threw balls to each other in the backyard.

“Do you suppose there's any difference between spring in nature and spring in man? But there we go, praising the one and condemning the other as improper, ashamed that the same laws work eternally through both.” 

“Do you suppose there's any difference between spring in nature and spring in man? But there we go, praising the one and condemning the other as improper, ashamed that the same laws work eternally through both.” 

 From her feet the ground sloped sharply into view, and violets ran down in rivulets and streams and cataracts, irrigating the hillside with blue, eddying round the tree stems, collecting into pools in the hollows, covering the grass with spots of azure foam. But never again were they in such profusion; this terrace was the well-head, the primal source whence beauty gushed out to water the earth.

 From her feet the ground sloped sharply into view, and violets ran down in rivulets and streams and cataracts, irrigating the hillside with blue, eddying round the tree stems, collecting into pools in the hollows, covering the grass with spots of azure foam. But never again were they in such profusion; this terrace was the well-head, the primal source whence beauty gushed out to water the earth.

roomwithaview_036.jpg

Eventually the sky clouded back over and we moved inside to be greeted with bread topped with tomatoes fresh from the oven and dipping oil alongside all the fixings for Italian cream sodas. You know this was the kids' favorite part!

roomwithaview_031.jpg

While we waited on pasta water to boil, we sat and discussed the book, finding we had the same favorite scenes, and really enjoyed the overall warmth of the novel. We both just loved the classic scene where Lucy stumbles into the wildflowers and into George's embrace, as well as the scene where Mr. Emerson tells her she clearly loves George and can't run away from it, telling her:

“It isn't possible to love and part. You will wish that it was. You can transmute love, ignore it, muddle it, but you can never pull it out of you. I know by experience that the poets are right: love is eternal.” 

Dinner was just a classic Italian bolognese that I had made ahead and left simmering all afternoon, and we gathered up our heaping bowls of carb-y goodness and headed into the living room to watch the film. 

The movie really does do a good job of staying true to the book and capturing the characters well. We giggled over how ridiculous Cecil was, sighed over handsome George, and marveled at the nuanced interactions between characters. Definitely a solid accompaniment to the book and one of the more spot on book-to-film translations we've seen so far.

Of course we couldn't end the evening before indulging in Lucy's favorites: iced coffee and meringues for dessert! Bonus points for sitting by the piano, as we know Lucy's love for it. We also had a wider assortment of Italian cookies to appease our little humans and for maximum indulgence :)

"When he was introduced he understood why, for Miss Honeychurch, disjoined from her music stool, was only a young lady with a quantity of dark hair and a very pretty, pale, undeveloped face. She loved going to concerts, she loved stopping with her cousin, she loved iced coffee and meringues."   

"When he was introduced he understood why, for Miss Honeychurch, disjoined from her music stool, was only a young lady with a quantity of dark hair and a very pretty, pale, undeveloped face. She loved going to concerts, she loved stopping with her cousin, she loved iced coffee and meringues."

 

Overall, this was a book and movie combo we both really enjoyed, which isn't always the case, and was really a perfect novel for spring! We can't wait for increasingly nice weather, and are all kinds of excited for summery books and dinner parties on warm nights in the next couple months!

Again and again we say it: literary dinner parties are such a fun way to bring a novel to life, and very easy to pull off at home. Whether you have a book club, a bunch of friends, just one, or it's just you, let us see your dinner party by using #theardentbiblioreads or tagging us @theardentbiblio! 

Literary Dinner | Pride & Prejudice

Man oh man have we been excited about this dinner party! I LOVE Pride and Prejudice and Jane Austen in general (along with the rest of the world) and when we started with these dinner parties, I knew this was going to have to be one of them. Plus, Rikki was reading Pride and Prejudice for the first time, so it was extra special!

If you've followed along for a while, you know we love to capture the mood and scene of our books on a Pinterest board, and build a simple dinner party around the novel we've chosen. We generally get together in the late afternoon with our kiddos, set up our scene, enjoy dinner and lively book discussion together, and finish by watching a film version of whichever book is on the menu that week.

Of course, for this novel, we had to go with easy elegance and quasi time period appropriate food ('at least three courses!' cries Mrs. Bennett in my head), with feminine florals and Austen-esque accents. We brought out a while linen table cloth and fully laid out proper place settings, accompanied by a vase of pink and white roses with touches of wilder wax flowers peeking out, all framed by long white tapers set in pewter candlesticks.

Rikki baked a beautiful round loaf of bread to accompany some "white soup" mentioned in the novel, using a recipe she adapted from this amazing cookbook

pride&prejudice_017.jpg

After bread and soup followed a simple garden salad, a roasted chicken with root vegetables, and steamed rice. The great thing about this kind of food is that it's simple and not at all difficult, but looks impressive and tastes even better. 

After we recovered from stuffing ourselves with delicious dinner and laughing at Mr. Collins, while imagining what it would truly be like to attend a dinner party in the Austen universe, we took a break for some movie time, and rounded out our dinner party with a full tea service. I had dipped strawberries in chocolate and made scones and meyer lemon bars with my 3.5 year old (who loves helping in the kitchen) earlier in the day, so we simply made a nice pot of Earl Gray tea and set out lemon curd, grapefruit marmalade, and of course, clotted cream. 

We've said it before, and we'll say it again: it is so, so worth it to spend a few minutes of effort to create these dinner parties and have a magical atmosphere that pays proper homage to these great works of literature as we discuss them together. If you've missed it, we've done Little Women, Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, and The Awakening so far! 

It's been such a fun tradition, and we, again, cannot recommend it highly enough. Seriously, give it a try it for yourself!

"Think only of the past as its remembrance gives you pleasure."

Whether you have a bunch of friends, just one, or it's just you, let us see your creation by using #theardentbiblioreads or tagging us @theardentbiblio!