The Next Book: Unexplained Laughter

Unexplained LaughterRight now we are reading Unexplained Laughter by Alice Thomas Ellis.  Book club night for this tome is later in May; this will be our Easter get-together and just two days shy of the end of Easter Season which is on Pentecost Sunday.

Alice Thomas EllisAlice Thomas Ellis is the pen name for Anna Haycraft.  Anna (Alice) was raised a secular humanist and converted to Catholicism during her college years.  In an interview before her death in 1977 she claimed some very strong reasons for believing in God and the Catholic faith, including her claim that she was very comfortable with the “aims and rituals of the Church,” and  “secure in the certainty that it was immune from frivolous change and the pressures of fashion.”

You can read more about Alice Thomas Ellis at Catholic Culture.


Pope Francis’s Favorite Movie


Habemus Papam; we have a Pope!

We are of course a book club of 10 women who read only Catholic Women Authors, and we’re all very excited by the news of Pope Francis I! 

Celeste got to attend the Denver Rally for the Pope!!

Celeste attended the Denver Rally for the Pope!!

Celeste even made it to the Rally for the Pope even though it was only 3 hours after the Holy Father made his first appearance.

Whatever could we have in common with the new pope?

Why we’re Catholic of course!

Well yeah but beyond that—I found out from NewAdvent that the new Pope’s favorite movie is also a favorite Book & Movie Night combo of ours.

We first read the novella by Karen Blixen (aka Isak Dinesen) and then watched the movie Babette’s Feast, directed by Gabriel Alex.

Truth be told we do not really know for sure if Blixen was Catholic, but we do know from her autobiography Out of Africa that she loved the Mass and attended often while living in Africa.  We hoped she had converted before her death during a long and painful illness.

I’m unfortunately not a movie critic, but fortunately for all of us, Stephen Greydanus is!  And he explains so perfectly that this is a deep and powerful movie full of Eucharistic and sacramental symbols; it is not just a foodie movie about food or an art movie about the sacrifices of artists!

Authored Babette's Feast

Authored Babette’s Feast

I love how the setting of the movie of an isolated protestant sect (now cut off from their founder after his death) in an isolated Danish village conjures up the feeling that outside the Church one can dream up his own religion without limit and yet with each re-invention become increasingly alone; cut off from the Source of Truth.

And then… Babette returns with the rich makings of a feast to find the deceased pastor’s daughters alarmed and yet…..willing to allow her to serve them even in their fear.  Also, the movie is funny!  The old spinster sisters nearly faint at the site of the bottle of excellent wine at which Babette gazes longingly.

So, for a celebration of Pope Francis I and a Lenten sense of Christ’s Passion &  Sacramental presence, download Babette’s Feast and watch while you plan your Easter Dinner!

Read more about it at Patheos:

My Friend Flicka: The Movie Night

This past Wednesday was Movie Night.  We watched the movie My Friend Flicka with Roddy McDowall.  This was a follow up to the My Friend Flicka Book Night.

The movie has a nice story that stays pretty close to the book.  Ken’s older brother Howard is not part of the movie but a character is added in the person of Hildy, the young daughter of Gus the ranch hand.  We thought the movie might have been colorized but further checking revealed that is was filmed in Technicolor.  It has an odd look to it as though the characters and back round are separate.  I don’t know what that’s called in film-eze but it has the look of a soap opera set.

I had forgotten (or never noticed) that Roddy McDowall was British.  I agree with author Mary O’Hara’s criticism that his accent doesn’t fit with the theme of the story or the setting of Goosebar Ranch in Wyoming and is therefore distracting.  Also, the movie is far less graphic than the book–for instance the gelding scene and the tossing of dead horses down the old mine shaft are left out–and more sentimental.

But all in all resplendent with Western scenery and the solid original story of Mary O’Hara.

Unfortunately I was either all laziness or forgetfulness (it’s one or the other and I know which one) and I didn’t take pictures.  I wish I had because several people went all out and brought some impressive 1940s Western Ranch themed food.  Jean baked some gorgeous frosted Brownie which are a good old-fashioned dessert and a main dish hash filled with bacon (yes!), beans and other sundry Chuck Wagon type ingredients.

Laura truly delivered with perfectly risen gluten free Biscuits and Gravy.  Amy brought a juicy, fresh version of Aplets and Cotlets candies that was homemade and peach flavored.  Gina proffered the most adorable frosted Mini Apple Donuts; yes I know it is truly unforgivable of me to omit the photos….mea culpa!!

I cooked up an Apple Crisp (which is the closest thing I could think of to an Apple Pie, an iconic ranch dessert) with Oat Topping.  As I was cooking the apples I threw in a couple of cubes of frozen apple cider which brightens up the taste of apple desserts.  Now my friends thought it was just fine, but I could detect a very slight savoriness.  It occurred to me that I may have thrown in chicken broth cubes instead of apple cider since I have both in my freezer!  On the other hand maybe it was just another dish on my plate that mingled in; I guess we’ll never know.

Celeste offered a tasty watermelon which is a big seasonal Ranch favorite; sometimes it was grown in the ranch’s family garden or in the case of my Mother’s family on the Eastern Plains, sometimes brought in from the fields by the melon truck.  My Grandma would even save some watermelon balls in the freezer for a special Christmas treat!

Last but not least a big Thanks to Dianne who always offers her incredible home for Movie Nights.  We love its big sofa under the ceiling fan and of course the necessary television.

Octobers Book:  The Staircase by Ann Rinaldi

Colorado Inspires Author Melissa Wiley

I’m so excited for this new post!  A friend of mine has published 3 new books and she’s highly qualified to appear here even though we have never read her books (they are children’s books but that doesn’t disqualify them from OUR book club because we are totally open to reading children’s and teen’s books!).

She is:

A) a female
B) Catholic
C) an author

See?  She fits our mold perfectly!

That’s about the only mold into which this author and mother of 6 fits.   She works from her relaxed homeschooling home.  Her husband Scott Peterson is an author as well and they are now collaborating on an online comic called Thicklebit.

Melissa Wiley is the author of the Martha Years and the Charlotte Years Little House books.  Martha was Laura Ingalls Wilder’s great-grandmother and Charlotte was her daughter.  Melissa’s engaging and charming series’ allow us to become acquainted with the Scottish childhood and Boston adventures of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s mother’s family.

A few years ago, after 8 Martha and Charlotte stories Melissa moved on to some new writing territory. 

And wow, talk about new; earlier this month she presented a Ready to Read book titled Inch and Roly Make a Wish.

This week she released 2 additional stories:  Fox and Crow are NOT Friends, a Level 3 Step Into Reading story, and an adventurous tale of little Louisa Brody titled The Prairie Thief.

Ironically Melissa and I grew up in the same hometown, but that’s not how we met.  We both joined the same online forum and later had a wonderful get together with some other friends and their children as she traveled back through Colorado on her way to her new home in California.  I love this blog post of hers explaining her work at the Plains Conservation Center east of Aurora and how it inspired her latest tale.  We went on a field trip there once and it really is as detached from the city as she describes.

While Melissa explains that it will appeal to boys and girls alike, if you have a young girls’ book club, a Mother-daughter book club, or a school club you really should add The Prairie Thief to your list!