PlainTruth ****.* by Jodi Picoult
I’m joining Jain with my Edible Book Review at Food for Thought, where pages from your book magically mix with the kitchen and your camera.
This is one of my favorite Jodi Picoult books– I became immersed in the story and teetered back and forth the whole time I was reading, wondering what the outcome would be. And unlike some of her most recent books, (Handle With Care in particular), you don’t feel like you were kicked in the gut when you’re finished. This story takes place in Amish country and the vivid descriptions of Amish life, the characters, and the clash of cultures drew me in from the beginning of this book.
Ellie, a high-powered Philadelphia defense attorney, in a dead-end eight year relationship, finds herself dissatisfied with her life, and leaves town to visit her Aunt Leda:
“I suppose other women in my position– by this I mean heartbroken, at odds, and recently given a large sum of money–might have chosen a different destination. Grand Cayman, Paris, even a soul-searching hike through the Rockies. For me, there was never any question that if I wanted to lick my wounds, I would wind up in Paradise, Pennsylvania.”
“You could not summer in Paradise and not come in contact with the Old Order Amish, who were such an intrinsic part of the Lancaster area. The Plain people, as they called themselves, clipped along in their buggies in the thick of automobile traffic; they stood in line at the grocery store; they stood in line in their old-fashioned clothing; they smiled shyly from behind their farm stands where we went to buy fresh vegetables.”
Ellie finds herself defending Katie, an eighteen year old Amish girl, who is charged with murdering her newborn baby, instead of taking a vacation. As a result of a court mandate, she finds herself living with Katie and her family, while she prepares her case and tries to adapt to Amish life on a dairy farm.
“The world was a kaleidoscope of color: kelly green corn, red silos, and above it all, a sky as wide and as blue as a robin’s egg. But what struck me the most was the smell, a mixture of notes as distinctive as any city perfume: the sweat of horses, honeysuckle the rich tang of overturned earth. If I closed my eyes and breathed deeply, magic happened: I was eleven again and here to spend the summer.”
“A horse moved along at just twelve miles per hour — slow enough that Ellie was able to count the number of calves grazing in a field, to notice the Queen Anne’s lace rioting along the edge of the road. The world didn’t whiz by; it unrolled. Ellie, who had spent most of her life in a hurry, found herself watching in wonder.”
“If I had learned anything in ten days, it was that the Amish way was slow. Work was painstaking, travel took forever, even church hymns were deliberate and lugubrious. Plain people didn’t check their watches twenty times a day. Plain people didn’t hurry; they just took as much time as it needed for something to be done.”
“For you, it’s all about how you stand out. Who is the smartest, the richest, the best. For us, it’s all about blending in. Like the patches that make up a quilt. One by one, we’re not much to look at. But put us together, and you’ve got something wonderful.”
There are lots of food mentions in this book with Ellie concerned that her departure from the Fishers’ “would coincide with angioplasty” :-)
One of Katie’s specialties is a potato salad with tomatoes. . .
BLT Potato Salad Recipe Here
Ellie observes that Sarah prepares enough food at mealtime for the whole Amish community.
Chicken Pot Pie Recipe courtesy Ina Garten Here
This recipe says 4 servings~that would be for 4 lumberjacks! I’ve easily gotten 8-10 servings (depending on the size of your bowls) out of these ingredients.
Preparing this potpie in individual bowls, allows you to freeze them and pull them out to use–which is convenient at my house, for just the two of us.
Sarah’s famous squash pie is mentioned here. . .
Squash Pie Recipe Here
“Sometimes when I was lying in my bed at the Fishers’, I wondered if I would ever be able to adapt back to city living. What would it be like to fall asleep to the sound of buses chugging, instead of owls? To close my eyes in a room that never got completely dark, thanks to the neon signs and floodlamps on the streets? To work in a building so high off the ground that I could not smell the clover and the dandelions under my feet?”
I was really drawn to the “quiet and peace of a bucolic farm” and the simple Amish lifestyle; the expressions–“ferhoodled” and “wonderful mad”. . . I was so immersed I found myself thinking “I’d like to be Amish”, until I remembered. . . No Air Conditioning. . . No Internet. . . No American Idol :-).
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