Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Just Desserts

OK, for dinner last night I had two desserts: a piece of peach pie, fresh from the oven, yes, still warm (!), and a piece of German chocolate cake. Not small pieces, either. And a little champagne. I would have brought the French champagne, but it cost $50, so I brought the California champagne. This French and German-themed fare was offered at the meeting of our book group, to discuss All the Light We Cannot See. The peach pie was for the tinned peaches that Marie-Laure finds in the house, and the German chocolate cake was for the German occupation of France. Sigh...

After All the Light and Lila, I read The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, by David Mitchell, about turn of the (18th to 19th) century Japan, and how the Dutch East India Company managed to operate there despite a general policy of Japanese seclusion. Oh, it's about much more!--but that gives it a setting in time and place, somewhat unusual for David Mitchell, really!

As with All the Light, this Thousand Autumns shows beautifully how people behave--well and badly, motivated by greed or honor or lust or a crazy yearning for immortality or raw cruelty. I was deeply moved by the rare choices not to inflict harm or take vengeance. In both of these novels, there is great loss, and you hope that someone good will get to live a happy life. In these fictions, as in life, not everyone gets their "just desserts," but some do get their peaches.

And that makes it a Fat Tuesday on a Wednesday, the Hump of the Week. With Peaches and Leaves by Jonathan Koch.

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