We met last week to discuss The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters, which I had been dying to read based on rave reviews from pretty much everyone everywhere. (Go look at the Amazon page and you'll see what I mean.) We all really enjoyed it, but most of us felt that it was too long, and that the first half in particular was too slow. (I seemed to have minded this less than some others in the group.)
This is the story of Frances Wray and her widowed mother, upperclass women in a post-WWI London suburb. They've come upon hard times and have had to take in lodgers, a young couple from the "clerk class." I won't give away anything that you can't pick up from any review, but the book turns quickly into a star-crossed love story and then even more quickly into a murder mystery. I honestly did not have any idea how the book would end—which is a delight in and of itself—and was racing to finish to find out what would happen.
Waters is a terrific writer, and she seems to have gotten all the period details right—or at least so it seemed to me. I can't say that I was too fond of any of the main characters; normally that puts me off, but in this case I still found myself thoroughly engrossed. There was also plenty for us to talk about, so if your book group members don't mind a 575-page hardcover, I highly recommend it.
I offered the usual snacks and treats (most from Trader Joe's), and I also made a pesto dip that was simple and tasted great. I can't remember where I found the recipe, but it's pretty basic and could probably be enlivened in any number of ways. At Trader Joe's I had bought a bag of multicolor carrots (orange, yellow, and purple) and a bag of multicolor bell peppers (orange, yellow, and red). I put the bowl of green dip in the middle of a round platter. I cut the veg into sticks and arranged them all around the bowl. It was quite a pretty display, and I'm sorry I neglected to take a photo. I also had bread sticks and crackers to go into the dip. Yum, I do love me some pesto. (But don't bother using your good homemade stuff for this dip—save that for when you plan to enjoy it in its pure form.)
1 (7-ounce) container pesto
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperatures
1/2 cup sour cream plain Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese
Combine everything in a food processor or blender and buzz until smooth and creamy.