Tea and a Book and a GIVEAWAY for Thanksgiving: A Long Way from Verona

Quick take: Quirky and endearing.

From the book jacket: Jessica Vye introduces herself with an enigmatic pronouncement: “I ought to tell at the beginning that I am not quite normal, having had a violent experience at the age of nine.” A revered author has told Jessica that she is, beyond all doubt, a born writer. This proves an accurate prediction of the future, one that indelibly colors her life at school and her perception of the world.

Jessica has always known that her destiny would be shaped by her refusal to conform, her compulsion to tell the absolute truth, and her dedication to observing the strange wartime world that surrounds her. What she doesn’t know, however, is that the experiences and ideas that set her apart will also lead her to a new and wholly unexpected life.

My thoughts: Such a delight! This was my second reading and I’m sure there will be many more. Jane Gardam somehow captures the awkwardness and alienation of adolescence while also managing to make her heroine thoroughly charming. It is a very English sort of book, just so you know. (Among other things I had to google “viyella,” which is a certain type of dress, and now I see why Jessica was in agonies.) I’ve very much enjoyed other books by Gardam, but I will read Long Way to Verona again and again.

Scroll to the bottom for a giveaway!

And now for tea: I was in the mood for something autumnal so I made pumpkin spice cookies from this recipe at A Family Feast. They were simple enough to make, but do keep in mind that the dough is sticky even after chilling overnight. The cookies turn out quite soft–not the same chewy texture as a ginger cookie–but rest assured the flavor is excellent. For tea, I’d recommend one that doesn’t compete with the pumpkin spice–an Assam, Ceylon, or perhaps a blend of the two. I chose St. James from Mariage Frères. The “Autumn Tree” cup and plate featured in the photo are from Pier 1–soon to go on sale, I’m sure!

Other books that make me thankful because they are endlessly re-readable:
Cold Comfort Farm, by Stella Gibbons
French Lieutenant’s Woman, by John Fowles
Gaudy Night (best if you read Strong Poison & Have His Carcase first), by Dorothy Sayers
High Rising, by Angela Thirkell
I Capture the Castle, by Dodie Smith
Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte
Possession, by A. S. Byatt (tho I skim Ash’s poetry)
The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Winter Solstice, by Rosamund Pilcher
+ practically anything by Jane Austen or L.M. Montgomery

GIVEAWAY — I have an extra brand-new copy of Long Way from Verona up for grabs! All you need do is share the title of a book you’re thankful for in the comments and briefly explain why the book means so much to you. The winner will be chosen randomly with the help of Random.org.Open to US/CA only, please!

11 thoughts on “Tea and a Book and a GIVEAWAY for Thanksgiving: A Long Way from Verona

  1. DeeDee Chumley

    Sooo hard to choose, but one for which I’m grateful is The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown. Beautifully written and so inspiring!
    (If I win, will you throw in a couple of those cookies?! 😉)

  2. Stacia Seaman

    Ursula ale Guin’s Earthsea books—the original trilogy. I read them as a child and they meant so much to me: in the books because one of the books had a strong female MC, which I didn’t see a lot in SFF growing up; and in life, because the boxed set was given to me by an uncle who had no idea what an incredible gift it would turn out to be.

    1. SoniaG Post author

      Thank you so much for sharing this. I’m not sure why I never read those books–I did like SFF but somehow missed these. My husband read the first novel a couple of years ago and really enjoyed it. I need to catch up!

  3. Leslie Wainger

    Probably most grateful for Walter Farley’s The Black Stallion. So much of my childhood is tied up with the whole series and horses, and it still influences my dreams.

  4. Lisa Marotta

    I’m thankful for JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series. I’ve read and re-read them and they sit on my shelf inviting me into their world at a moments notice. The magic is just as fresh the fourth time around!

    1. SoniaG Post author

      Thanks for sharing! I loved the books and we had a great time with Harry Potter at Universal, but I know the Marottas are hard core fans!

  5. Susan Wylie

    Sonia, what a lovely review…with a recipe link too…genius!! I suggest you look up the podcast Backlisted. I’m listening to it now, while browsing for the book itself, and stumbled on your page. The podcast was posted last year about A Long Way from Verona and you will enjoy the chat. As for Viyella it’s a woollen fabric, highly prized by sewing mothers in the 1960s, and I loved the dresses and tops my mother made from it, to be enjoyed on cold winter days.


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