By Jody Shields
Little, Brown & Company, New York (2000)
Dora had eaten figues ordinaires, a souvenir of summer's end.
What a sentence! In a book full of wonderful, clear and engaging writing, this sentence sticks with me as a souvenir of times well spent with a good story.
As the shadows lengthen and winter stalks the garden, I would like to recommend a little combination for fall reading. Jody Shields' rather dark tale of murder, obsession and deep Gypsy mysticism goes great with a glass of blood-red wine and an hour of relaxation in your favorite wool sweather while you savor the cool approach of night out in the yard or garden.
The Fig Eater is a well-researched thriller. It casts a stabbing, furtive light on Vienna at the time of la belle époque. Like the sweep of an electric torch probing a darkened room, Judy's descriptive prose illuminates the often disquieting nooks and crannies behind the façade of turn-of-the-century Viennese civility.
Jody Shields has also managed to produce a great food book in that she has folded a generous amount of light culinary detail into her dark chocolate batter of heinous crime. I had originally planned to write a menu to accompany the reading, but have decided that a big, unapologetic gutsy red wine, an autumn garden setting, and some time are all that is needed. Perhaps a chunk of brown country bread, a stinky cheese, and some voluptuously ripe figs would be enjoyed . . . once you have accustomed yourself to the disturbing details marbled within this delicious cake of a novel.
This book may be ordered on-line from Healdsburg's Toyon Books via our on-line Book Shop.