Sometimes I am lucky enough to travel with Handsome whilst he saves the world from energy crises, regulatory challenges, management mishaps, and such. Really any escape is appreciated, even to oft-stomped grounds like Tulsa.
But another way I am lucky is that sometimes I get to accompany him on trips to amazing cities like New Orleans, from where I might actually originate, despite all evidence to the contrary.
Mom & Dad, is it SLIGHTLY POSSIBLE I was born here and you just forgot? Or did you feed me bread pudding in my bottle? Did something formative happen to me on the great Mississippi?
No? Eh bien... I am content to claim Oklahoma as home and visit Louisiana from time to time.
On one such N.O. business trip in the warming months of 2010, I had the afternoon to myself while Handsome attended meetings. I enjoyed lunch of half a cold muffaletta and hot, rich chicory coffee. With sugar and heavy cream. Always. The cafe had a curved painted ceiling.
And live jazz nearby.
In the arts district I made purchases of sparkly gifts for my teen aged daughters, and then I found the most beautiful book store.
Like many New Orleans shops, it was three deeply set, ornate stories stacked onto a diminutive footprint. It was creaky, painted for the umpteenth time, and crammed to the hilt with treasures. Treasures the proprietor is happy to reveal to his visitors, but only in hushed tones... Like he's letting you in on a little bit of Creole magic...
This isn't the same building, but it is a New Orleans building with some elusive magnetism.
I looked for over half an hour, lazily tempted by five or six good looking titles, when I decided to ask the bearded book pusher for a recommendation. I asked specifically for anything not mainstream, maybe something local?
I suppose everyone knows that Anne Rice is just about the hottest New Orleans author known, but the treasure offered me that day was a title not widely published and also one not centered around vampires (arguably her most well known flavor).
The Feast of All Saints had three big things going for it even before I swiped my debit card:
- Local author in my very favorite city
- Relatively limited circulation
- Historical fiction off the beaten path
Purchased without hesitation, thank-you-very-much.
This is an unfluffy, uncrunchy image of the book cover.
I always devour Rice's prose with shameful gluttony. She writes with sensuality and painfully accurate emotional detail. Her characters are many and varied, and they are each developed exactly as much as you want them to be. Her stories are reliably complex, fast moving, entertaining... Feast of All Saints was no exception.
I blazed through the first third of the book immediately upon returning home, only to drop it in our swimming pool that summer. It needed to dry out baby!
During those page drying days I moved on to a new title and then got busy with back to school tasks and rituals. This was not a book I wanted to read with divided eyes, so it got temporarily shelved.
I noticed the now fluffy and crunchy paperback several times throughout the winter of Snowmageddon but could not bring myself to read more, even with undivided eyes, because it had such a summer feel.
Do you ever read a book and crave certain tastes in your mouth? Certain fragrances or tactile sensations? Well sometimes I associate certain books with certain seasons, and this book begged for summertime. It demanded humidity and sexiness and profound beauty, just like what the French Quarter provides.
So finally late this Spring the reading stars aligned and I resumed my unladylike feast of Feast. And I loved
Full review to follow...