Elements of the Table: A Simple Guide for Hosts & Guests
Elegance is the art of not astonishing, said Jean Cocteau, but often the idea of a formal dinner party is intimidating to both hosts and guests for one reason: the table setting. Why is there a spoon above my plate? Do I really need five different glasses? Where do I put my napkin when I leave the table? Lynn Rosen comes to the rescue with this practical, charming, and informative guide to all things tabletop. Organized by category, Lynn’s advice is sensible, her explanations are clear, and her historical asides will provide plenty of lively dinner conversation. You’ll learn about: Napery: What to do about that crease in your tablecloth, how to use a table runner, and the history of napkin rings (hint: they came into use not for decoration, but for an exceedingly practical purpose!) China: The difference between a rim soup bowl and a rimless coupe soup bowl, when to bring out the coffee cups, and why we call it “china” Silver: Basic rules for arranging the setting (evenly spaced, about a half-inch apart, with the handle bottoms lined up), using flatware to signal you’ve finished eating, and why the fork was slow to catch on as a dining implement Crystal: How to tell a red wine glass from a white wine glass, when to use a dof glass, and what famous European queen is said to have been the model for a champagne coupe glass Table Décor: Why place cards are always a good idea (and where to put them), the evolution of centerpieces, and how to turn a napkin into a cardinal’s hat, a bishop’s mitre, or even an artichoke Elements of the Table covers everything from linens to basic etiquette, so your next dinner party (whether you’re hosting or attending) will be a relaxed celebration–and the only astonishment will come at the end of the night, when you realize how much fun you’ve...
The Roman à Clef: Enough Already!
Article in City Paper by Lynn Rosen… “I was talking with my friend, novelist Susan Barr-Toman, about the reaction she was getting to her then just-published novel, When Love Was Clean Underwear. Because the book takes place in South Philly, where she grew up, many readers were assumed it was an autobiographical novel. It wasn’t.” Read Full...
A Chef’s Table with Jim Coleman, 3/17/07
Lynn Rosen’s “Elements of the Table” is a featured book of the week:
Lynn’s Blog: Huffington Post
A Reliable Wife: An Unreliable Read
I had a funny conversation while out with a few girlfriends the other night. “Do you ever read books just for fun, beach read kinds of books?” one of them asked me. “No,” I replied, explaining that I just really like good writing, and fluffy books don’t engage me. I’m a literary snob, I know. You won’t, therefore, generally find me reading bestsellers, but now and then I do try to read a book that I hear the people who take my classes talking about. If it’s good upscale commercial fiction, I’ll give it a try. What do I put in this category? The Help, for example. Well-written, good story. I liked it. There are other books I want to read that, from what I hear, I suspect fall into this category, books such as Sarah’s Key or Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. They’re on my list. Another book I had heard about in this way is A Reliable Wife. So when I professed my literary snobbiness to my friends and they asked me what I was reading, I told them I had just started this book. Little did I know that A Reliable Wife would turn out to be merely wearing the cloak of literary fiction, but that underneath lay the heaving bosom of a bodice-ripper Yes, it’s reasonably well-written, although the faux-Victorian third person voice is often stiff and awkward. Yes, he draws vivid characters and creates a strong portrait of the landscape in which the story takes place, the frozen winter world of northern Wisconsin. But really, the book is about sex. Who’s having it, who’s not having it, and a main character who pretty much thinks about it non-stop. The only difference is, unlike the more traditional romance-novel plot, in this book the rape scene takes place at the end of the book. I did a quick scan of some reviews to see how I became so misled about this book. Here are two reviews I found: “A tantalizing pace that will have you flipping faster and faster through the pages… A beautiful and haunting read, a story about all the different manifestations of love—a story that will stay with you.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune “Robert Goolrick’s A Reliable Wife is my must-read recommendation… This engrossing and addictive novel will leave you both chilled and satisfied.” —Chris Livingston, Summer’s Best reads on NPR’s Morning Edition Well, I really don’t agree with those critics, it turns out. But wait, here’s what The Washington Post has to say:”A Reliable Wife,” isn’t just hot, it’s in heat: a gothic tale of such smoldering desire it should...