Brunch with Book Club.

This past Sunday, I hosted book club at my house and I must say I was incredibly pleased with the brunch I turned out — orange-cranberry scones, Bon Appétit‘s lemon-raspberry cupcakes, Mark Bittman‘s potato-asparagus frittata, and my mother’s mango salad (recipe below). As usual, I ate too much, but I don’t feel too terrible about it; as per my request, Darlington and Amanda brought their parents’ dog, and he happily ate half of what I had on my plate. Honestly, he’s a glutton.

For this month, we chose Rose MacMurray’s novel Afternoons with Emily; we try to have some sort of interconnecting thread between books. Last month’s selection was about an accidental arsonist and murderer who burns down the Emily Dickinson house in Amherst, Massachusetts, so it seemed appropriate for the follow-up to center more on the poet.

Afternoons with Emily is the fictional story of Miranda Chase, a Boston-born girl who, after a year of living abroad in Barbados, moves to Emily Dickinson’s hometown of Amherst. There, Miranda gains notoriety for her religious views; when Emily hears of this, she quickly extends an invitation to Miranda, and soon the two become almost friends. Miranda is both enchanted and disillusioned with Emily’s eccentricities, which she continually wrestles over the following years.

For what seems to be the first time over the history of book club, we all liked our choice-of-the-month. From the lush descriptions to the historic references, MacMurray’s writing truly takes the reader of the present and transplants him or her directly into the past. Sadly, the author died shortly after completing this, her first and only novel; her children worked to get Afternoons with Emily published last year, a decade after MacMurray’s death, leaving behind in their mother’s work an enveloping and interesting story.

Mango Salad
Makes eight portions.

6 mangoes
8 kirby cucumbers
1 plastic container of chives
1 plastic container of mint
juice of 1 – 1 ½ limes
Extra virgin olive oil
Korean red pepper flakes
salt, to taste

  1. Peel and cube mangoes; peel and cube cucumbers, taking care that manoges and cucumbers are the same size. Finely mince chives and mint.
  2. Emulsify lime juice, olive oil, red pepper and salt. The end result should be neither too tart nor too salty.
  3. Toss mangoes, cucumbers, herbs and dressing together and refrigerate for about an hour for flavors to develop. (Or, in my mother’s word, “One hour of standing will give it legs, and the flavors will get mixing and have a party.”) Serve chilled.