A few weeks ago the ladies of Reading Between the Wines got together for our July book club meeting at Crystal’s house! Her book selection – The Girl Who Chased The Moon by Sarah Addison Allen – was perfect for summer with featured foods that made planning our dishes a no brainer.
But before we dined, we wined…with sauvignon blanc from Kim Crawford, courtesy of Emily.
Since the novel takes place in North Carolina, sweet tea was also on the menu.
Sheena and I were in charge of appetizers. She brought a plate of yummy chili biscuit cups, which I think are similar to this recipe. The warm dough combined with chili and cheese was amazing.
I decided to attempt Tee’s Corn Pudding from Southern Living (recipe here). It’s by no means good for you but that’s what makes it so good, in my opinion. Everyone else seemed to agree, which was a relief since I tend to try brand new recipes about two hours before each meeting. Not sure why that is, but as a result I never know what’s going to happen. Keeps things interesting!
In addition to the wine, Emily brought us a salad with several fixins.
And for the main dish, Crystal channeled Julia Winterson (one of the book’s main characters) and made us barbecue pulled pork, which was fantastic!
With our plates full, we sat down to start our discussion.
The dried pineapple flowers and nuts that go on top of this cake are a must. It was incredible and, fittingly, plays a prominent role in the novel. I brought an extra slice (or two) home for
And now, the most important question: what did we think of the book?
The setting for this book is Mullaby, North Carolina, a small Southern town where, as you can imagine, everyone knows everyone and everyone knows everyone’s secrets. Emily Benedict is one of two female main characters – the chapters alternate perspectives – and the book opens with her arriving in Mullaby after her mother’s death in an attempt to answer some of the unanswered questions surrounding her life (such as the grandfather Emily never knew she had).
Soon after we are introduced to Julia Winterson, a confident yet somehow also insecure woman who lives next door to Emily’s grandfather and is an outsider for her own reasons. The two women’s paths cross early on and from there the reader is taken on a journey full of friendship, love and heartbreak, as well as a search to discover who (or what) people really are. Read this book if you’re interested in a good love story. It’s a fun summer read that will make you want to sit on a wraparound porch drinking sweet tea with your friends (or Scarlett O’Hara).
I would definitely characterize this book as women’s fiction, but with an interesting twist that feels a little bit like fantasy or fairytale. After reading more about the author, it appears that each of her books have some element of magic incorporated throughout. In the case of The Girl Who Chased The Moon, you have the mysterious Mullaby lights, which skip across Emily’s yard at midnight and move as quickly and quietly as ghosts. You have wallpaper that seems to change with a person’s mood. You have the mysterious men of the Coffey family who never come out at night. Plus a few other surprises that I won’t give away here. At first I was admittedly a bit skeptical (mainly about the wallpaper) because I wasn’t expecting it, but ultimately I thought they were fun and whimsical details that didn’t detract from the story and definitely added to my curiosity about this small town.
The characters were all well developed with clear back stories and reasons for acting the way they do. Although some of the scenes and outcomes were predictable, there were plenty of surprises and facts that were revealed over time that kept me entertained. I particularly enjoyed the history between Julia and Sawyer, one of the main male characters. From the moment they first interact with one another it’s clear that there is tension that goes back many years (to high school, in fact) but that their level of animosity is outweighed by how much they secretly care about each other.
I thought that the ending was wrapped up nicely, as well, with no loose ends and even a scene that could leave readers wanting more. Overall, I would definitely read more books from Sarah Addison Allen and am glad that I have now been introduced to her writing style!
Have you read The Girl Who Chased The Moon? If so, what did you think?