The Henna Artist: A Novel

November’s book pick was The Henna Artist: A Novel by Alka Joshi. This book pick was brought by Shobha.

Book Synopsis:

Escaping from an abusive marriage, seventeen-year-old Lakshmi makes her way alone to the vibrant 1950s pink city of Jaipur. There she becomes the most highly requested henna artist—and confidante—to the wealthy women of the upper class. But trusted with the secrets of the wealthy, she can never reveal her own…

Known for her original designs and sage advice, Lakshmi must tread carefully to avoid the jealous gossips who could ruin her reputation and her livelihood. As she pursues her dream of an independent life, she is startled one day when she is confronted by her husband, who has tracked her down these many years later with a high-spirited young girl in tow—a sister Lakshmi never knew she had. Suddenly the caution that she has carefully cultivated as protection is threatened. Still she perseveres, applying her talents and lifting up those that surround her as she does.

Book Discussion:

Coming soon.

The Maid: A Novel of Joan of Arc

September’s book pick was The Maid: A Novel of Joan of Arc by Kimberly Cutter. Book pick was brought by Jill.

Book Synopsis:

“Was she a saint or a witch? A visionary or a madwoman? Or an extraordinary peasant girl who, at God’s bidding, led an army, saved France, and paid the price by burning alive? . . . Kimberly Cutter’s portrait of ‘Jehanne’ as a strange, gritty teenage tomboy and true believer is compelling.” —USA Today

It is the fifteenth century, and the tumultuous Hundred Years’ War rages on. France is under siege, English soldiers tear through the countryside destroying all who cross their paths, and Charles VII, the uncrowned king, has neither the strength nor the will to rally his army. And in the quiet of her parents’ garden in Domrémy, a peasant girl sees a spangle of light and hears a powerful voice speak her name: Jehanne. 

The story of Jehanne d’Arc, the visionary and saint who believed she had been chosen by God, who led an army and saved her country, has captivated our imaginations for centuries. But the story of Jehanne—the girl whose sister was murdered by the English, who sought an escape from a violent father and a forced marriage, who taught herself to ride and to fight, and who somehow found the courage and tenacity to persuade first one, then two, then thousands to follow her—is at once thrilling, unexpected, and heartbreaking. Rich with unspoken love and battlefield valor, The Maid is a novel about the power and uncertainty of faith and the exhilarating and devastating consequences of fame. 

Book Discussion:

I think today seems like a good day for a recap!  I know you’ve all been on the edge of your seats awaiting a recap from The Maid discussion in October so here it goes.
A few of us met early at Seaboard to give Shobha a chance to visit two of the many establishments in her new town of Matthews.  Shobha was enjoying a brew (Seaboard is a brewery and wine bar/shop) when the girls from Waxhaw arrived (just a touch late).  The weather was beautiful though I had been concerned about the temperature and had multiple conversations with the staff/owner at Sante, our restaurant destination, to determine the best dining area for us.  The owner finally convinced me that dining outdoors would be lovely for the evening and I chose the back courtyard.  He was right, it was perfect weather for dining al fresco and we had the courtyard to ourselves which is always a plus.  Since I’d had so much interaction with the Sante folks already I didn’t want to be late for the reservation so Susan and I manned up, chugged our wine and headed on down the street to Sante.  
Once everyone arrived, we ordered some appetizers as usual; luckily talking Shobha out of the escargot.  Wine all around and on to The Maid.  Generally everyone knew of Joan of Arc but not much about her or why she happens to be the patron saint of France. I found the story very interesting and we had a fairly in depth discussion about whether she was delusional, or was actually sent from God on her journey.  A mixed bag of feedback there that generally followed the level of religious faith each person has.  The more faithful among us do believe God has chosen ones to do his bidding (and I truly hope if that’s the case Susan gets picked next because I’ll know then she’s not crazy); while those of us with a more minimal amount of religious faith leaned towards the crazier side of Joan’s story.  Having said that, there is no doubt that she led troops to battle, she survived a fall from high up in a castle with no injuries, turned the tide of the 100 years war and in the end was burned at the stake.  As for the words we used to describe her (per Jenn’s inquiry) Brave, Crazy, Faithful…there are others but my memory…  The book was overall thumbs up with a couple thumbs down thrown in.  On to picks, hopefully you all know by now we are reading American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins.   

The Language of Flowers: A Novel

August’s book pick was The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. Brought by Suhanti.

Book Synopsis:

The Victorian language of flowers was used to convey romantic expressions: honeysuckle for devotion, asters for patience, and red roses for love. But for Victoria Jones, it’s been more useful in communicating mistrust and solitude. After a childhood spent in the foster-care system, she is unable to get close to anybody, and her only connection to the world is through flowers and their meanings. Now eighteen and emancipated from the system with nowhere to go, Victoria realizes she has a gift for helping others through the flowers she chooses for them. But an unexpected encounter with a mysterious stranger has her questioning what’s been missing in her life. And when she’s forced to confront a painful secret from her past, she must decide whether it’s worth risking everything for a second chance at happiness.

Book Discussion:

Venue was Suhanthi’s house screen porch.  Food was from Inchin Bamboo Garden. Jill, Amy and Sondra came on time. Amy brought flowers she picked from her garden – lilies (majestic) and dahlias (dignity/ elegance).  Thank you Amy. I placed a food order to be delivered for the very first time and it was a fiasco.  I ordered and was supposed to get a confirmation email, but never did.  So called the restaurant and the never received the order.  Then I place a takeout order for just the main course as the food would not be ready for 75 minutes.  

As children and their attitude towards household chores was being discussed, I whipped a couple of appetizers – peanut salad which was a big hit and pakoras. Waiting to hear how Jill’s version of the salad with cashews turn out.  As we talk about the book while waiting for Shoba to come to start the discussion per her request, I send Kamesh to pick the takeout.  While he is on his way, I receive a text that the food has been delivered on my front porch.  Then I had to argue with the restaurant about canctthe takeout, I was ready to start drinking.  Phew.  Never again am I ordering food to be delivered.  Now that I have acknowledged my challenged capability (rather the lack of) to order food let’s move on.

Jill as usual pulled out a list of discussion questions and ensured that we got through them all.  She had to bang on the wine glass to bring the culprits (Shobha and me)to get on track with the discussion.  This was one of those books which entailed a lot of discussion.  Final verdict was a thumbs up (3 thumbs up, one down and one sideways).  In ending, to answer the question about what flowers would you give to someone important in your life, Jill said she would give all the Dine and Opiners freesias as they signified lifelong friendship. Luna decided to interrupt the discussion to get some love and then eventually settled down to serve as footrest.

Shoba brought Kheer and I served Moong dal Halwa For dessert which were combined by some.  Jill was shushed into handing the book picks when she started providing context around her selection.  She handed the 3 and did not have to use the two titles she had as back up.  The winner was “the maid: a novel of Joan of Arc” by Kimberly Cutter.  If you haven’t seen the group text, it is available on Hoopla.

Everyone made their way home around 11 after making plans to get Henna done.  Was a fun evening.  

The Last Mrs. Parrish

July’s pick was The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine. Brought by Amy.

Book Synopsis:

Amber Patterson is fed up. She’s tired of being a nobody: a plain, invisible woman who blends into the background. She deserves more—a life of money and power like the one blond-haired, blue-eyed goddess Daphne Parrish takes for granted.

To everyone in the exclusive town of Bishops Harbor, Connecticut, Daphne—a socialite and philanthropist—and her real-estate mogul husband, Jackson, are a couple straight out of a fairy tale.

Amber’s envy could eat her alive . . . if she didn’t have a plan. Amber uses Daphne’s compassion and caring to insinuate herself into the family’s life—the first step in a meticulous scheme to undermine her. Before long, Amber is Daphne’s closest confidante, traveling to Europe with the Parrishes and their lovely young daughters, and growing closer to Jackson. But a skeleton from her past may undermine everything that Amber has worked towards, and if it is discovered, her well-laid plan may fall to pieces. 

With shocking turns and dark secrets that will keep you guessing until the very end, The Last Mrs. Parrish is a fresh, juicy, and utterly addictive thriller from a diabolically imaginative talent. 

Book Discussion:

Wow!  What a gathering.  (still within state guidelines of course)  After a long six months of not seeing fellow Dine and Opiners, we finally got together in a large way.  So much has happened – graduations/colleges/school starting/a baby!  We definitely had a lot of catching up to do.

With the virus still hanging around, we opted for a backyard format with takeout from Deejai Thai.  We faced mosquitos and George the cat defecating in the flower bed, but let’s move on…

The dress code – black leggings seem to be a common theme.  I have only seen people from the shoulders up since March so I have noted this and already have a pair in my amazon cart.

The book – The Last Mrs. Parish – A two part psycho-marital thriller that everyone actually read and finished!  Most agreed that the part 2 (Daphne) made up for the less interesting Amber point of view.  We discussed the difference between a pyscopath and sociopath – the difference being that a sociopath has a small amount of empathy.  Most agreed that there were not a lot of characters we empathized with (maybe we’re the sociopaths?), but the Mom and Douglas were at the top.  I was really hoping that gun would be put to good use.  Shobha came in late and boldly declared she felt a little bad for Amber.  Let’s just say that was an unpopular opinion.  Overall the book was given a thumbs up- a couple of sideways and maybe a thumbs down.  It was a fun read and would probably recommend, but not sure it deserves a unanimous thumbs up so thank you to the dissenters among us.

The Baby – Baby Vaughn will be making her arrival in February.  Sondra is excited to plan a baby shower and of course there will be books involved.  Think of the books that you didn’t mind reading over and over and over again.  That’s what we’re going for.

The Picks – In true Suhanthi form, she gave us a lot to choose from including actual books.  Three fiction and three non-fiction.  The non-fiction books were all had the Gates name somewhere on them (written by Melinda or Bill endorsing them).  The fiction books included:

-The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

-Life by Lu Yao and others

-The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish

We selected The Language of Flowers.

No book club evening would be complete without a picture and overstaying our welcome.  Mark finally got off his Zoom call and was promptly summoned for a picture.  After staying outside the entire evening, we all walked into the house loudly and Sylvia emerged from her room to yell at us. (she was in the middle of a meditation app and we took her away from her zen garden she told me this morning).  I do appreciate the direct feedback versus the usual dirty looks and lights being turned on.  Ahhhh…its great to have the band back together!

Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators

March’s Bookclub pick was To Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow. This book was brought to the club by Susan.

Book Synopsis:

In a dramatic account of violence and espionage, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter Ronan Farrow exposes serial abusers and a cabal of powerful interests hell-bent on covering up the truth, at any cost.

In 2017, a routine network television investigation led Ronan Farrow to a story only whispered about: one of Hollywood’s most powerful producers was a predator, protected by fear, wealth, and a conspiracy of silence. As Farrow drew closer to the truth, shadowy operatives, from high-priced lawyers to elite war-hardened spies, mounted a secret campaign of intimidation, threatening his career, following his every move and weaponizing an account of abuse in his own family.

All the while, Farrow and his producer faced a degree of resistance that could not be explained – until now. And a trail of clues revealed corruption and cover-ups from Hollywood, to Washington, and beyond.

This is the untold story of the exotic tactics of surveillance and intimidation deployed by wealthy and connected men to threaten journalists, evade accountability and silence victims of abuse – and it’s the story of the women who risked everything to expose the truth and spark a global movement.

Both a spy thriller and a meticulous work of investigative journalism, Catch and Kill breaks devastating new stories about the rampant abuse of power – and sheds far-reaching light on investigations that shook the culture.

Book Discussion:

The Missing Sister

April’s book pick was The Missing Sister by Elle Marr. Brought by Jennifer

Book Synopsis:

In Paris, her twin sister has vanished, leaving behind three chilling words: Trust no one.

Shayna Darby is finally coming to terms with her parents’ deaths when she’s delivered another blow. The body of her estranged twin sister, Angela—the possible victim of a serial killer—has been pulled from the Seine. Putting what’s left of her life on hold, Shayna heads to Paris. But while cleaning out Angela’s apartment, Shayna makes a startling discovery: a coded message meant for her alone…

Alive. Trust no one.

Taking the warning to heart, Shayna maintains the lie. She makes a positive ID on the remains and works to find out where—and why—her missing sister is hiding. Shayna retraces her sister’s footsteps, and they lead her down into Paris’s underbelly.

As she gets closer to the truth—and to the killer—Shayna’s own life may now be in the balance…

Book Discussion:

Amy: My search for her Killer

February’s book was Amy: My search for her Killer by James Renner. Pick brought by Karie.

Book Synopsis:

In the fall of 1989, ten-year-old Amy Mihaljevic disappeared from the cozy Cleveland suburb of Bay Village. Thousands of volunteers, every available police officer, and scores of FBI officers descended upon the town to hunt for the girl. Her picture was everywhere–anyone who watched the local TV news then remembers the photograph of the girl with the sideways ponytail dangling from one side of her smiling face. That image also became indelible in the mind of an eleven-year-old boy almost fifty miles away. James Renner never forgot Amy. Even at that young age, he vowed to find her. Tragically, Amy Mihaljevic was found dead a few months later. Her killer, however, was never found. The case remains unsolved. That cold case never left the mind of the impressionable young boy, who grew up and became a reporter for an alternative weekly magazine in Cleveland. Fifteen years after Amy’s body was found, Renner picked up the leads himself and began trying to solve the crime. 

Book Discussion:

It was a couple of Firsts for the ladies of Dine & Opine.  *First time for a true crime genre *First Video Conference held Bookclub *First Bathroom video (Cue:  Smoking in the boys room song)
Being that the bookclub was held via Video, it amazed some of us that: Some were still early (Logged in prior to 7pm) Some were LATE! (HOW??? WHY???) Some were not as computer savvy as expected.
Who was in the bathroom? Who was early? Who was late? Who was stumped by their computer? Who Forgot? Who Read the book? And What are we reading next? Fortunately for us, unlike the book, these mysteries will be solved.
 The setting:March 17th, 2020 6:55pm.. I, Karie, open my laptop and follow the instructions sent by our fearless leader, Jill. Once set up, I went and poured a glass of wine. Next, said leader, Jill joins the Virtual bookclub. To keep in theme, she had ordered food and was enjoying sushi throughout the evening. Next, almost at exactly 7pm- Amy joined us… complete with a table cloth and her own “waiter”, i.e. Her husband. As we waited, we discussed how everyone was doing. Tick… tick… tick…By 7:05pm we realize that, seriously, people are late!!! 
DING! Shobha joins us! FROM HER BATHROOM? NO worries. No number 1’s or 2’s were happening. She was hiding out in her bathroom for a bit prior to moving into another room.
Slowly…. The other Dine and Opiners joined. Two stated Technical difficulties, Suhanti and Susan; one thought that we were starting at 7:30, Hetal; and one just forgot! (Gasp….), Jennifer. 
For those D & O Ladies that were early, on time or close to being on time- we began discussing the book. 
One major discussion point, brought up by Amy (Not the dead one), is that there is no ending. The murder remains unsolved. We discussed the details to why it hasn’t been solved. How, if it were to happen today, would it be solved and what, if anything, could be done differently. The fact that the book was not wrapped up at the end, left many unfulfilled. Which is ironic, since at times, many dislike when a story is too wrapped up at the end. And that is part of the idea. This story is a true crime. There are many unsolved murders. Real life is not a story that you can just create the ending and wrap it up with a bowing tying  up all the loose ends. 
Another point of discussion were the amount of potential suspects. As Jill asks, is it weird that there are so many weird people in that small of an area? Myself and Susan quickly explained that Ohio is just that. Many “Unique” individuals. Being that we are both from Ohio we were able to help explain the weirdness that is Ohio. And if a Non-Dine and Opiner is reading this and you are from Ohio… Feel free to take offense, then take a breathe and shake your head- cuz you know it is true. 
After talking about all of the suspects, we each gave our opinions, playing the part of a wanna-be inspector, of who we thought Done-It. We discussed the idea that perhaps it wasn’t any of them and that another bad-person was at the right place, at the right time, to take advantage of the situation (Amy alone and not knowing who she was meeting). If that was the case- talk about timing. We all thought that that scenario was a bit far-fetched. So we circled back to the known suspects. It seemed that there were 2 (Two) suspects that stood out more than the others. One- the Naked Man and the second the boy who killed himself shortly after Amy’s body was discovered.
One item, well actually two items, that made this book discussion were that: 1- I actually went to school with the Author (YES! I busted out a few old school year books), which means that I was around that area when it happened, although not in that town- I was able to recall a little bit of the story albeit I didn’t follow the story like the author. 
2- Mr. Renner was open to answering questions. I sent him a message and he responded very quickly. Dine and Opine has been very fortunate to have authors Skype, meet us and message us! Mr. James Renner is now added to that list of authors. 
Overall the book received a sideways thumb. The book conversation was intriguing and I think the Dine and Opiners will continue with reading books and not become detectives… Although, once we are all out and about again- I think a murder mystery party might be in order.
The next book is- 
Oh good lord…. Did we have some thoughts about what the rule was for a tie. Y’all… RULE 235 paragraph 2 sub-paragraph 2.B states- in the event of a tie, each member is to then vote on their second pick. 😂
The Book that won is Catch and Kill By Ronan Farrow https://www.amazon.com/Catch-Kill-Conspiracy-Protect-Predators-ebook/dp/B07TD413RV
For those who argued the tie break- there are a few rogue D & O’s that will be reading two books (Shhh… I will be as well… I mean- what else are we going to be doing??? LOL) The Second book is Dutch House by Ann Patchett https://www.amazon.com/The-Dutch-House-A-Novel/dp/B07NSJZWY5/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=Dutch+House&qid=1584636871&s=books&sr=1-2

Did I miss anything? 

The Spy and the Traitor

May’s book choice was The Spy and The Traitor by Ben Macintyre. The Pick was brought by Hetal.

Book Synopsis:

The celebrated author of A Spy Among Friends and Rogue Heroes returns with his greatest spy story yet, a thrilling Cold War-era tale of Oleg Gordievsky, the Russian whose secret work helped hasten the collapse of the Soviet Union.

If anyone could be considered a Russian counterpart to the infamous British double-agent Kim Philby, it was Oleg Gordievsky. The son of two KGB agents and the product of the best Soviet institutions, the savvy, sophisticated Gordievsky grew to see his nation’s communism as both criminal and philistine. He took his first posting for Russian intelligence in 1968 and eventually became the Soviet Union’s top man in London, but from 1973 on he was secretly working for MI6. 

For nearly a decade, as the Cold War reached its twilight, Gordievsky helped the West turn the tables on the KGB, exposing Russian spies and helping to foil countless intelligence plots, as the Soviet leadership grew increasingly paranoid at the United States’s nuclear first-strike capabilities and brought the world closer to the brink of war. Desperate to keep the circle of trust close, MI6 never revealed Gordievsky’s name to its counterparts in the CIA, which in turn grew obsessed with figuring out the identity of Britain’s obviously top-level source. Their obsession ultimately doomed Gordievsky: the CIA officer assigned to identify him was none other than Aldrich Ames, the man who would become infamous for secretly spying for the Soviets. 

Unfolding the delicious three-way gamesmanship between America, Britain, and the Soviet Union, and culminating in the gripping cinematic beat-by-beat of Gordievsky’s nail-biting escape from Moscow in 1985, Ben Macintyre’s latest may be his best yet. Like the greatest novels of John le Carré, it brings readers deep into a world of treachery and betrayal, where the lines bleed between the personal and the professional, and one man’s hatred of communism had the power to change the future of nations. 

Book Discussion:

Instead of having a corona outside, due to corona, we did a zoom meeting 🙁
Joining was Amy (not the dead one), Karie (the lacksiedaisy one), Jen (the prego one), Stella (the one of good hair) and me (the late one)
We didn’t talk about the book for long since there were no questions, but we all agreed that it was “seriously, this really happened” account.  If it was a movie, we would have been like, this could only happen in a movie…but, it happened for real!  Is the CIA and MI6 that stupid for missing things for so long.  So many things to memorize, codenames and signals.  Safeway bags and chocolate bars aside, we agreed that it started out slow but became a great read.  We were all awed by the actual influence Oleg had with thwarting a nuclear war.  The big question was if Oleg had told his wife, would she have gone with him????  Some thought yes, some no.  Everyone gave a thumbs up.
Jen got her doordash so left the call…it’s ok, she’s prego.
On to book picks….Suhanthi, Suhanthi, suhanthi (think Bueller).  Ok, no Suhanthi, so backup was Amy and thank goodness she remembered because none of us did.  Our first vote was 1 vote for each pick, same with second vote!  Third time’s the charm where Amy decides to end the ties and vote for the pick someone else already did. So the book pick for this month is The Last Mrs. Parrish.  We can read about the Kentucky blue people on our own time.
After so much voting, topics veered to school (to remote or not to remote) then teen romance, so much drama!  Karie suggested a new way of picking books for next month, but don’t ask me what cause I was already a bottle of wine down by then.
Was nice to catch up and hope that we can do this outdoors, in-person next month!

1Q84

January 2020’s book was 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami. This pick was brought by Shobha.

Book Synopsis:

The year is 1984 and the city is Tokyo.

A young woman named Aomame follows a taxi driver’s enigmatic suggestion and begins to notice puzzling discrepancies in the world around her. She has entered, she realizes, a parallel existence, which she calls 1Q84 —“Q is for ‘question mark.’ A world that bears a question.” Meanwhile, an aspiring writer named Tengo takes on a suspect ghostwriting project. He becomes so wrapped up with the work and its unusual author that, soon, his previously placid life begins to come unraveled. 

As Aomame’s and Tengo’s narratives converge over the course of this single year, we learn of the profound and tangled connections that bind them ever closer: a beautiful, dyslexic teenage girl with a unique vision; a mysterious religious cult that instigated a shoot-out with the metropolitan police; a reclusive, wealthy dowager who runs a shelter for abused women; a hideously ugly private investigator; a mild-mannered yet ruthlessly efficient bodyguard; and a peculiarly insistent television-fee collector.

A love story, a mystery, a fantasy, a novel of self-discovery, a dystopia to rival George Orwell’s — 1Q84 is Haruki Murakami’s most ambitious undertaking yet: an instant best seller in his native Japan, and a tremendous feat of imagination from one of our most revered contemporary writers.

Book Discussion:

We were lucky to have two recaps written by two of the Dine and Opine ladies! One remained in the outbox for awhile… leaving all of us wondering what was said and discussed in that recap. Finally she shared her recap. So here the recaps- enjoy!

Recap #1 (Suhanti)

Venue was Yama in SouthPark.  

After frantic texts and calls to determine the correct restaurant ( there are 2 with the same name in opposite ends of town ), and being provided the address by both Karie and Amy, I came in time as Jill got ready with the book discussion questions.  She surpassed her own goal on bringing the discussion questions.  She not only brought the questions, she also got the lyrics for the song referenced in the book and list of books by the author read by the characters of the book.  

Seemed like more wine was consumed than actual food this time by the wine drinkers (even Shoba was astonished enough to comment on that).  Everyone opted for salad and sushi rolls. The table next to us with mainly men in suits was a lot louder than the Dine and Opiner’s (given that there were only 6 of us).  The waiter appeared to have given up on us ordering anything more than wine (with Kari gesturing to bring another bottle) and had to be flagged down so we could order desserts.

2 (Jill & Sondra) had finished the book,   Amy was close to finishing and the rest of us were a little over halfway through.  But the discussion was lively ensuing a lot of comments around the amount and description of sex in the book.  We all could not settle on a genre that we would describe the book belonging too.  Everyone felt that the “little people” did not really add much to the book.  Table was divided as to the favorite characters Shoba and Amy votes for Tengo while the rest went with Temaru and the Dowager a close second.

Karie whipped out the book selections and started giving an introduction on how each book was selected.  We quickly hushed her down and asked her to hand out the selection printouts.  There were 3 picks and we all settled on Amy: My search for her killer…. with “The Immortal life of Henrietta Lacks a close second.  Jill opined that we should just pick that and mark it off our reading list.    Have to resume my meeting.  Will let others add to this.

Recap 2: (Shobha)

DOBs and DOMBersThe silence! And the apathy- not one of the attendees came to my rescue…  (Update: Suhanthi did) Hence I have decided to call our group DOMB-Dine & Opine Mean Bookclub. 
Book Picks with preambles, prologues, Henrietta Slacks,   Souvenirs etc etc The book for next month is Amy. As in google ‘Amy+unsolved murder+journalist’. Nothing popped up? So add ‘self published’. Still nothing? Then  try ‘made-up-titles by Karrie Greathouse’. There. 
Kidding, just kidding. It’s fun to tease you K- instant gratification. Though I really did google the book with very similar keywords on Wednesday. 
Sondra came bearing gifts. She got us all these gorgeously colorful ‘urns’ from Spain- just beautiful! Think shallow urns, say like ….cereal bowls that aren’t microwave friendly and hence neither dishwasher safe. It was incredibly generous of you Stella – one-upping and overshadowing our bookmarks, easily foldable wraps and scarves we stuff in our bags as gifts to give…the ones with dual purpose of preventing our shoes from being crushed in travel. You instead brought these fragile, Costco paper towel sized packaged earthenware bowls all the way from Barcelona. Or Madrid. Amazing!Just wait- I am going to bring a ‘short- less’ Bollywood hero for you all next. Two of them,  just in case one breaks. 

Restaurant and Desserts and Servers that made me wish Little People really existed regarding the desserts, a quote comes to mind, and I paraphrase here…’there is special place in hell for restaurants serving crappy desserts’. That green tea cheesecake- I swear that’s got to be a mixture of ground up, week old, used great tea leaves with touch of sugar and some unknown, ineffective binding agent. I had to spit out the tiny bite I took and no amount of melted ice cream, spoon of lava cake could get the taste nor the texture out of my mouth. New Zealand café just gained New customer.
As for me being “judgey” about wines and their quantities- that was pure jealousy. Envy. Or both. I wasn’t drunk enough to not care how many were coming along and boy do I miss it. I remember the days when we averaged one bottle/person. Such a pity- I was fun then. 
Book Verdict and middle finger aka Flip the Bird for unanimous decisionsOver all thumbs up- Amy & I, sleep deprived, still deeply immersed were an obvious up.Karie was/is savoring it- no rushing that girl- and so no brainer there either. Sondra was meh- but in a thumbs up good kind of way meh, very laissez flaire (her resting state) in a I-eat-these-kinds-of-books-of-million-pages-for-breakfast way, what’s-so-unique-about-this-book? hashtag it-ain’t-no-Juliet-uhn-uhn way…Jill was just playing hard to get (our only thumbs down) esp if you consider all the preparation & homework she did to bring us the questions, their answers. And then, with a very straight face she says she wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone.??!! How could you not, Jilly Billy? Courtesy of 1Q84 you, mah deeher  listened to Ella Fitzgerald’s Paper Moon song (the one you geekly read aloud too) for the first time- which by the way is beautiful..Amy and I YouTubed it at the table. And finally Suhanthi who was thumbs up too but then changed it to down, I think ..or maybe sideways, just so Jill doesn’t feel like an outcast. Suhanthi, all heart is sap in that way. 
Book, Weird chapter titles, Book Spoilers and just Book ..Jill & Sondra finished it- Amy too, minus 100 odd pages and then plus last few to get the ending.Karie and Suhanthi, who got the book just a week before were halfway through …and I, who downloaded it the night it was chosen barely made it past book 1. That’s 1/3rd for those who have neither purchased nor started on it yet. 
Which reminds me…despite my preemptive steps to deal with spoilers ie choosing to Wikipedia it, logic being that I prefer the end be spoiled on my terms rather than the DOMBers ruin it for me. Well, news flash- you DID ruin it. The fuckers at Wikipedia probably hadn’t read it either. There was no mention of pregnancies let alone an immaculate one (THAT, that wild hand gesturing by you all, indicating across the town, alternate reality or whatever, THAT was worst- the actual ruiner spoiler in case you are wondering).Now I’ll never want to finish this one too. 
As Suhanthi wrote- we all had our favorites in the book. Tengo who was Amy’s and mine, did lose some points with me- when his older married pervy lover squeezed his balls in response to Tengo’s very apt interpretation of her dream. I would have seriously backhanded her then or as soon as she let go of the above mentioned part of anatomy I would have then slapped her silly. And that’s saying something-staunch feminist that I think I am. But really, what was with manhandling of private parts? Everyone was doing it to everyone in this book. And the descriptions..-Ushi’s pubic hair like hair, pubic hair that looks like patchy grass, shapes of boobs, small boobs, big ones, soft penises, hard penises, asking strangers in the bar the size of their penises, scrotums (educational, thanks Jill), lesbian sex fantasies, lesbian sex and the premature ejaculations galore-a particular passage involving white slip actually made me gag, like seriously dry heave.
….definitely pervy. 

 Anywho -on that peculiarly pervy (which would be my 2 word description for 1Q84) note, Tuesday was our usual/unusual evening of fabulous company, good book, passionate conversations, endless and always to-be-continued laughter, decent sushi, shitty cheesecake (Amy’s description is best), rain and at least one solution to fix the issue of our cheating DOBers: in the future the monogamous ones should bring epic 1000+ page book selections. Let’s see how they juggle their philandering activities then.