In "The Wedding Bees: A Novel of Honey, Love, and Manners" by Sarah-Kate Lynch, Sugar Wallace goes where her bees guide her. Each spring she places her current Queen Bee (this one is Elizabeth the Sixth), on her grandfather's old map and lets her choose their next destination. This time it's New York, specifically Alphabet City on the East Side of Manhattan where she moves into a fifth-floor walk-up studio with a terrace perfect to house her bees. In addition to the honey, candles, soaps and other honey and beeswax-based products she makes and sells, Sugar brings along her Southern manners and her desire to help her neighbors to the city--like she has done in the different locations she has lived in since 'escaping' her South Carolina past fifteen years ago. Sugar's neighbors may not think they want her help but they need it--there's George, an ex-doorman needing something to do and some honey to help his leg, Ruby anorexic and seeking comfort through her scrapbook of wedding announcements, Lola, an overwhelmed single mother with a fussy toddler just trying to get by, Nate, a shy, overweight chef who hides from the world, and the warring seniors Mrs. Keschl and Mr. McNally. As she gets to know her neighbors, Sugar is trying her best to avoid Theo, the attractive Scottish lawyer she meets on her first day in the city. Can he convince Sugar that they belong together and that love, and a more permanent address is in her future?
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (January 28, 2014)
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (January 28, 2014)
I have read several of Sarah-Kate Lynch's other books and I enjoy how she immerses them in a particular food--bread, wine, cheese and now honey in "The Wedding Bees"--as I always feel that I learn a little something in addition to getting a light and entertaining read. It made me want to put a hive in my yard. (OK, maybe that's too much work. It at least made me want to eat local honey and buy some honey soap and beeswax candles!) I also enjoy the quirky characters Lynch creates and populates her stories with. From the main characters to the supporting cast, they don't always start out lovable, but they soon grow on you. With a character who is a Southern bell called "Sugar"--I did worry that she might be too sweet and potentially very annoying. But Sugar was not cloying or syrupy, she was just sweet enough to be likable and to get a group of grumpy neighbors to fall under her spell. An enjoyable read that was easy to escape into, "The Wedding Bees" is a fun way to warm up a gloomy day--as sweet, sunny and tasty as a spoonful of honey. Foodie fiction lovers, fans of Southern manners and characters, and those looking for a sweet romance will like this one.
Author Notes: Sarah-Kate Lynch is the author of eight novels and travel editor of New Zealand Woman’s Day, New Zealand’s bestselling weekly magazine.
Lynch is a foodie author and enticing descriptions and mentions of food permeate her novels. "The Wedding Bees" is no exception. In addition to all that glorious honey and Sugar's delectable honey cakes and tarts, there are Nate's pastries, Theo's duck pancakes, the Ginger Creme Supreme ice cream from the farmers market, mint tea, and dinner parties with carrot-ginger-honey soup and buttery baklava to name just some of the food present.
For my dish inspired by the book, I went with my take on a bagel sandwich that George shared with Sugar in a tiny city garden as she begins to share her story and history with him. "Norwegian smoked salmon with cream cheese, capers and red onion from Russ and Daughters on East Houston," he said. "I've been buying my bagels from them since 1969 and they just keep getting better and better, which is just as well because they sure ain't getting cheaper."
I think the challenge of a bagel sandwich lies in keeping the capers and other goodies from rolling off ;-) so I put my capers and red onion into a creamy spread, along with dill and lemon zest. Instead of cream cheese, I went with a kefir labne--similar in texture but a bit healthier in terms of fat and calories. Spread on a poppy seed bagel, layered with smoked salmon, lettuce and fresh local tomato, it makes a fabulous portable lunch. Of course there had to be some honey, so I made a simple lemonade and added fresh mint and one of my favorite honeys from the Big Island --Lehua & Cinnamon. I think Sugar would enjoy it!
by Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup Greek yogurt or kefir labne, or cream cheese
2 Tbsp finely-diced red onion
2 Tbsp capers, rinsed and drained well
1 Tbsp finely chopped dill
2 tsp grated lemon zest
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
Mix all ingredients together. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour. Use as spread on bread or bagels.
Notes/Results: The spread is full of flavor with the red onion, dill and capers and was perfect with the salmon on the toasted poppy seed bagel. If you can't find labne--make it easily by straining kefir or yogurt, or just use cream cheese. I love the honey and mint lemonade--the touch of cinnamon in the honey was a nice touch. An all together delicious lunch--whether on the back lanai in Hawaii or a city garden in Manhattan. ;-)
Note: A review copy of "The Wedding Bees" was provided to me by the publisher and TLC Book Tours in return for a fair and honest review. I was not compensated for this review and as always my thoughts and opinions are my own.
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