LT Book Club: Inaugural Meeting and Madame Bovary
Welcome to the inaugural “meeting” of the Literary Transgressions Book Club! This book club is actually the digital counterpart of Corey’s real book club, featuring a wonderful kaleidoscope of women with mixed tastes, strong opinions, and a yen for delicious food. While the actual club is based in New York City, the LT version is geographically unlimited and open to all.
The Book Club alternates months between “classics” and newer titles (ah, my constant quest for contemporary classics continues!), as will the LT Book Club. Sometimes I’ll add particularly interesting points of discussion that were brought up at the “real world” club or supplemental reading, but otherwise I’ll focus on the book selections and menus.
To help others join in the fun, I will be posting once a month with this month’s book and a sample menu for your own meeting. One of the most fun parts of the club (apart from the reading itself, of course!) is the remarkable creativity of my fellow readers in coming up with delicious and thematic menus to go with each book. The value of food for a book club simply cannot be understated and I hope to share some of our yummy eats here with you.
Our first book up is Flaubert’s Madame Bovary (1856).
Recommended Edition: Penguin Deluxe Edition
We had some serious translation talk at our meeting, but the consensus seemed to be that Lydia Davis’ most recent translation is the way to go. Ms. Davis actually wrote a terrific piece in the Paris Review about why she chose to tackle Bovary and what particular choices she made in the translation. I think anyone approaching such a daunting project so thoughtfully is well-deserving of our attention! (New York Magazine also has a nice profile of Davis and her work on Bovary that’s worth a look.)
Menu: “A lot of jolly folk, gentlemen and ladies, with cakes, champagne, cornets—everything in style!”
- Rustic quiche (recipe from the Kitchn): Representing the provincial French countryside in which Emma feels so trapped, a warm rustic quiche will also provide a jolt of needed protein to power through particularly heated discussion!
- Chocolate Loaf (recipe from Smitten Kitchen): Charles’ first wife “must have her chocolate every morning.” While this was irritating to Charles, it sounds like a fine way to live to me and no reason we can’t follow suit!
- Fresh fruit salad: Emma “had never seen pomegranates nor tasted pineapples,” but they’re both delicious and serve as a nice, lighter complement to the heavy quiche and cake. So just dice up a pineapple, sprinkle liberally with pomegranate seeds, and garnish with some fresh mint leaves.
- Loose-leaf tea: Nothing goes better with an afternoon of bookish discussion than some particularly good loose-leaf tea. I’m going to recommend this pretty much every month. Maybe use a French press this month to stay on-theme?
If you’re as into food and reading as I am, you’ll love Lilian Furst’s article on “The Role of Food in Madame Bovary” (published in Orbis Litterarum back in the late 1970s). Available here: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1600-0730.1979.tb00750.x/pdf.