Friday, August 24, 2012

Goddesses--Domestic and Otherwise

Gully at Wassona Park
I recently spent over a week back "home" in the mountains of Virginia, visiting my mother and my sisters. My old neighborhood consists of a large gully encircled by a street. On the gully side of the street are trees, creating lovely shade for the road.  The resulting environment is the reason that this neighborhood was originally called a "Park.".  

childhood home
Across the road from the trees are the houses.  My family lives at one end of the circle road, and my grandmother and my cousins lived in houses situated farther around the circle.  It was a perfect neighborhood for us growing up in the fifties.  It was and still is a residential area in rural, small town America.

My sister now lives there near my mother, and she and her husband have a large garden.  While we were there, they fed us well--"Slow Food" grown primarily by them, cooked by my sister with occasional help from the rest of us, using tried and true recipes.  My mouth waters just thinking of the bountiful meals we had last week.

Stuffed peppers, cole slaw, green beans, squash casserole, corn on the cob, deviled eggs--
a home grown, home-cooked meal--with blackberry pie for dessert!

Before I went to Virginia, I wanted something really light to read and my sister-in-law had once suggested I try author Sophie Kinsella when I got a chance.  She went on to say that she couldn't read Kinsella's books in public because she laughed too hard.  When I was looking for a "fast read," I looked on my library shelves and noticed an abridged version of Sophie Kinsella's The Undomestic Goddess.  "Okay," I thought,  "I'll give it a try."  I am not a chick lit kind of woman, but I can relate to being an "undomestic" goddess, having suffered culinary disasters in my kitchen unlike my sisters, who both are actually skilled in the domestic arts.

The Undomestic Goddess, by Sophie Kinsella.
New York: Dial Press, 20005

In Kinsella's book, a fast track lawyer, Samantha Sweeting, is obsessed with her high stress position in a prestigious British law firm.  She thrives on the pressures of the job and is a total workaholic.  Her family is equally driven and not exactly close-knit, and the book begins with Samantha's less than spectacular birthday celebration.  Nonetheless Samantha's life is roaring along at warp speed until she misses a deadline that causes a client to lose a massive amount of money.

In a daze of disbelief, Samantha ducks out of her office and boards a train to avoid the repercussions of her error until she can think about how to deal with it.  She gets a bit tipsy and has a roaring headache.  When she exits the train several cities later, she knocks on the door of a wealthy couple to request an aspirin and water to clear her head so she can think.  The couple, the Geigers, think Samantha has come to apply for a job as a full-time housekeeper and are impressed with her totally fabricated credentials.  Samantha is hired and the comedy of errors begins, because Samantha knows zero about domestic chores.  Somehow each of Samantha's domestic disasters is salvaged, and she begins to want to learn how to do the tasks expected of her.  Of course there is also a love interest thrown into the mix.

The characters are likable, and Kinsella adds humor to the formulaic story of Samantha's tenure with the Geigers and her ultimate redemption.  I'm somewhat embarrassed to admit that I thoroughly enjoyed the book, found myself laughing out loud at times and might even try another of Kinsella's books in the future.


  1. Glad to read your review of the book. Sometimes it is so refreshing to read something that is just purely entertaining---no heaviness, just fun. I may have to try that one!

    1. I thought the clueless couple who hired the "Undomestic Goddess" had the funny lines.

  2. That plate full of deliciousness made my mouth water! Glad you had such a great time visiting with your family!

    1. I wish I had a piece of that blackberry pie right now!

  3. That is my kind of eating, and, my kind of reading, for the time being. I've read 6 of Kinsella's books and loved every one of them. It's easy enough to go to the library and get a book, but nearly impossible to get a plate of food, like the one above, anywhere (especially at the library). I mean it's a rare occurrence, and when it happens, all honour and glory should go to the cook. (She would also probably appreciate a nice tip or gift.)

    Muriel Edgerton -- I'll have the squash casserole!

    May I suggest a spell checker?

    1. Muriel, thanks for recommending Sophie Kinsella's books. They did make me laugh out loud--have to read them in the cottage by myself.

      My sisters are both great cooks--once in awhile I get motivated to emulate them. This was the summer of the squash for me, so I made some of the delish squash casserole. Ricky and I ate every crumb of it over a week's time.

      Muriel, I always try to remember to use spell check but sometimes I forget or by the end of the post, it isn't working--I guess I go back and forth too much for blogspot. You're like Ricky, misspelled words jump out at you.

  4. By the way, Teresa, you have written a great review of Kinsells's "The Undomestic Goddess."
    I say, read one of her books, and become light-hearted. For a little while at least.

    1. I agree, books that make you laugh out loud are to be treasured!